This week's theme is social media ROI. That's what I've been thinking, speaking, and writing about and have also recruited guest posts on this topic.
I had an opportunity to lead a session on this topic at this years Bridge Conference. Over the past three years, I've been presenting on this topic, the thinking and practice has evolved from 'we can't measure social media or it doesn't yet provide a tangible return," to being able to have guidelines, metrics, and techniques for demonstrating the ROI.
As KD Paine, the queen of social media measurement says, yes we can measure social media and here's how.
My presentation use s*x metaphors to explain some of the points. For example, I used the quote above overheard and tweeted by Google Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik. It pretty much explains why so many people perceive that social media doesn't give a return on investment in the early stages. There is a learning piece that has to happen first. What David Armano has dubbed Listen, Learn, and Adapt. That's the secret sauce.
I also pointed to Charlene Li's new report on engaged brands and the connection to financial performance. She points out that deep engagement is what leads to these results, but also offers 3 different engagement strategies that can be scaled to capacity. So, for example, making it possible for smaller organizations with fewer resources to use social media and still results.
I still got heckled by skeptics (and on Twitter no less!).
Some in the audience are impatient. They shout: "Show me the money!" Given the pressures of the economy, the risk adversity to social media is not surprising. Some simply won't investment unless they know for sure it can show immediate results. It's hard for some to wait after 6-12 months of engagement to see dollars. Insight and engagement are not as valued by some.
I keep thinking of the advice offered by Charlene Li on whether investing in social media at some level is a yes or not question. It's an either/or.
Doing it all may not be for you — but you must do something.
The optimal social media marketing strategy will depend on a variety of factors, including your industry. If your most valuable customers do not depend on or trust social media as a communication medium, or if your organization is resistant to engagement in some channels, you will have to start smaller and slower. But start you must, or risk falling far behind other brands, not only in your industry, but across your customers’ general online experience.
There were a number of folks in the audience who have been implementing listening programs and spoke about the valuable insights and the early returns - like main stream press mentions, improved reputation, loyalty, etc.
The most interesting part of the session for me was the fact that it was being "simulcast." Perhaps not the right word. My laptop was logged onto a webinar session and there a phone line in the room - so remote participants to see and hear the presentation. What was cool was that one of the remote twitter users live tweeted the session, including my response to one of the skeptics.
In reading the Twitter hashtag stream for the conference, it was interesting to see that someone else who wasn't in the room or on the webinar, was also able to follow on.
This makes me think about the creative opportunities for learning and facilitating learning at conference with people in the room and remotely.
Meanwhile across town in DC, there was another nonprofit social media gathering taking place at Google Headquarters, there were also presentations and discussion on social media ROI. Seems like a key theme there was: "we get importance of social media but how do we convince our boss/board?"