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The Real ROI of Social Media

by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl) As the head of social media here at Zemoga, and as a person who finds herself firmly ensconced in the burgeoning New York city tech scene, I spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about and explaining the ROI of digital marketing via social media. We’ve explored it a bit Read more

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by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

As the head of social media here at Zemoga, and as a person who finds herself firmly ensconced in the burgeoning New York city tech scene, I spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about and explaining the ROI of digital marketing via social media.

We’ve explored it a bit here before, with posts from Russ Ward on measuring sentiment and my own post on The ROI of Your Mom. It is, however, the conversation that’s not going anywhere.

And you can’t blame companies for wanting to know what the return on their investment will be. With 88% of US companies projected to use social media for marketing in 2012, it would be silly of us, really, to ignore what they’re getting for that spend.

The question is, then: How do we measure the return in a way that matches the medium?

Companies will come to you asking for an increase in “likes” on their Facebook page or to triple the number of Twitter followers they have. That’s cool. But what do they get from those interactions? What does the increase in their “fans” bring them, really? We can grow the numbers of people liking you or following you or even get them commenting on posts by running a contest, but if they interact with your brand that one time and that one time only, what’s the point?

I disagree with putting a fixed dollar amount on each Twitter follower or Facebook fan. They’re not worth the same if they’re not spreading your message in the same way. How can Tom Smith, who clicked that “like” button once and never returned to your Facebook page/website/bought what you’re selling at all, be worth the same as Joe Jones, who checks in with your Facebook page once a week, buys your brand like clockwork and tells all his friends that you’ve got the best thing going on? How do those two guys even begin to compare?

Going forward, we need to focus on building engagement and real relationships – turning 10 vocal souls into brand evangelists, who will, in turn, each spread the word to 10 more vocal souls, and so on and so forth. We need to remember that the reason people play on these websites we call “social media” in the first place is to be social. Brands, companies and those marketing them need to remember the impact that real relationships can bring.

So. How do we measure that? How do we get the numbers we’re looking for? The old fashioned way. Seeing conversation grow. Watching sales rise.

Anyone can be the new hotness. But not everyone can use that impact to grow relationships into something even better: longevity and brand loyalty.  Which would you rather be, anyway: The brand with 50,000 Facebook fans, struggling for market share, or the one with 10,000 vocal ones, leading the field?

I thought so.

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