The discussion about Social Media ROI has been one of the most prevalent debates in blogs and message boards for a while now. As more businesses learn about the power of the Web 2.0, they will naturally question the possible rewards for expanding their current Marketing and Public Relation strategies. The main talking point in the Social Media discussion is that it is difficult to accurately measure results. Traditional marketers are used to being able to accurately qualify sales leads and prospects, but Social Media does not function in the same way as traditional marketing methods.
There also seems to be some general misunderstanding about how Social Media functions and what the end goals should be. While it is true that creating Social Media profiles and Blogs can strengthen a branding campaign, a successful end result will most likely be increased brand awareness and conversations rather than sales. From a marketing or sales standpoint, it is nearly impossible to determine how these intangibles translate into profits. The main problem has been summarized best by Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer: The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable.
In order to properly harness the inherent power of Social Media platforms, it is important to keep a few key points in mind:
• Social Media works best when you think about other network members as a community rather than an audience
• Social Media participation should be seen as a long-term, interactive commitment and requires continual effort
• End goals should be: increased awareness of customer attitudes; increased ability to quickly interact with customers; increased feedback/dialogue with customers; improved perceptions of your company, your products, and your customer service
Larger corporations and organizations are relying more and more on new media to quickly distribute their personal messages to a worldwide audience. There is no longer a doubt that online media will eventually overshadow and/or replace more traditional formats. While it will always be debatable how helpful new media is, the bottom line is that - used properly - Social Media is an excellent tool for businesses, no matter the product or message.