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The new ROI of social media

April 30, 2009

You know when the answer to a question comes to you later? At a client presentation yesterday, the decision maker asked me if I we can measure the digital space. He was asking about his website and the social media spaces that we create, etc. He was asking the ROI question.

My answer was, yes. If we create a plan, and set goals, then we can measure on those goals. But lets not confuse that with an objective: the business objective of any marketing plan is always sales. We’re not doing this because it’s cool. We’re doing it to sell stuff.

But the goals don’t have to be sales. They might be engagement goals, they might be behavior goals (downloading a coupon, subscribing to a newsletter, etc), but they need to be defined goals. And they need to point the person in the direction of a sale.

So that was my answer. it’s long, complicated, and sort of obvious. but it misses a big part of the picture.

A while ago, I wrote a post called “Not Talking means being part of the conversation.” In it, I talked of the need to engage because ignoring wasn’t an option. Then I read a Tweet by @Armono that said ROI = Risk Of Ignoring. And that’s a memorable way of saying what I’ve been saying for a while.

The risk of ignoring now.

I’ve thought that Twitter‘s impact on the digital world is that it’s shifting the expectations of response. Even if retention rates for Twitter drop dangerously low after the Oprah Spike, Twitter is a game-chnger. It changed Facebook and LinkedIn, and probably many things in development right now.

Twitter changed feedback expectations. Now that Facebook has the interaction speed of Twitter, we can post “We have the best fans on Facebook” and within 5 minutes, we have 45 responses.

This continued emphasis on the speed of interaction brings up an intriguing question: What if a brand doesn’t respond? What’s the risk of ignoring? In the real world, if a potential customers enters a brands universe, and is ignored, it leads to a bad feeling with the customer. (Think of the times you’ve walked int a store, and the person has ignored because they were talking on the phone, or doing something else. Will that translate online? I think it will, and we have Twitter to thank for it. Because in the last 6 months, regardless of whether Twitter makes it as a tool, it’s already had game-changing influence.

And that influence goes to ignoring. If people expect a response in a timely way, not responding seems less and less like an option.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2009 5:07 pm

    Hey Matt —

    A bit back, I was asked the same ROI question. Lots of shrugging around the room.

    So, we sat down and developed a tool that begins to explore, in a visual way, ROI based upon social metrics. It’s free (there is a paid version, but it’s not much different) and launching over the next few weeks –

    Cheers & hope you find it helpful!


  1. Hilary Topper Blog - HJMT Communications, LLC - Public Relations, Marketing, New Media, Advertising, Special Event Planning and Graphic Production and Design

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