Where’s the ROI in Social Media? Enquiring Minds Want to Know.

One of the most prevalent excuses I hear from people not engaged in social media is the lack of provable ROI. Traditional marketers just can’t seem to get their collective heads around how social media can be monotized.

I can understand that. After all there are few metrics that outline exactly what you can expect from a well thought out social media strategy. Traditionalist and marketing execs want to see real numbers from real data that are in direct correlation to the social media campaign that has been executed on your company’s behalf.

Recently a few sites have popped up that promise to track your customer from initial engagement to purchase to determine whether or not your social media is turning eyes into sales. While it’s true that these companies can publish some “real” ROI numbers it’s also defeating the purpose a bit.

Marketing has always been about making money. Social media is more like the kinder, gentler brother of marketing. It’s not about the bottom line and many people miss that mark.

Social media is about providing value. John Wooden, famous UCLA Basketball coach has a great quote: “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

That philosophy should be at the top of your social media strategy. If you’re in it to make money then you’re going to lose the game. No one will engage you if you are not willing to provide them with some value.

It’s a tough nut to swallow for many traditional marketing managers and even tougher for the CFO in the company. After all, these guys are used to pushing the product.

If I had to pick a reason that many social media strategies fail I’d pick this. You’ll fail if you can’t give your customers something they need. You’ll fail if you can’t engage your employees. You’ll fail if your entire company is not onboard with your social media campaign and you’ll fail if you’re not 100% committed to forgetting the traditional role of ROI in your company’s balance sheet.

That said, social media has it’s own ROI. Great news huh? And oddly enough, that ROI often ends up giving those bean-counters exactly what they wanted in the first place.

First, companies that can engage their own employees in the social media campaign find that those employees are more productive, profitable and less likely to leave the company.

When employees are super engaged and happy in their jobs they are less likely to leave. It’s considerably less expensive to keep an employee than to train a new one.

Finally, great employee engagement means that your staff are talking about and “marketing” your products for you. They’re engaged with the public and, hopefully, encouraging people to participate too. Funny enough, that behaviour often leads to…wait for it…SALES!

Yay! We found our traditional ROI in our social media ROI! Crazy world!

You don’t have to take my word for it. Click on the cool graph at the end of this post and see for yourself. Social Cast has done all the work. I’m just reiterating in easy-to-understand words.

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