Go to Top

The ROI of social media? What’s the ROI of an elephant?


I see your brand in bold beautiful silk draped on his back so I get brand visibility but what is the purpose of stationing an elephant at a mall entrance? Is his purpose to be a goodwill ambassador gladly accepting peanuts from little willing hands?  His handstand delights the crowd but do those oohs and ahhs directly link to sales?  How do you know he’s pulling his own weight and not eating you out of house and hay? 
   
With a twinkle in our eye and a smile, let’s address one of the elephants in the room — the qualitative measurement of social media ROI. (Fear not friends, we’ll discuss quantitative in our next blog.)

 

What they are measuring isn’t really ROI, per se. ROI is a monetary measurement. If I spend “x” dollars, I should receive “x” dollars back in return. However, just because it’s difficult to measure ROI, that doesn’t mean that social media doesn’t contribute to the bottom line. ~ Nick Stamoulis @brickmarketing

 

What is the ROI of a conversation?

  • I’m talking to you
  • You’re talking back
  • I sing your praises to a friend, telling her you’re one of the cool kids
  • My friend now wants to meet you too
  • My friend and I are tickled to support you in your new venture
  • Our friends become your friends and the Lovefest continues

 

Let’s dial that up a notch!

  • I leave a comment on your Facebook biz page
  • You reply with a witty retort
  • Originally inspired by your brand, I’m now intrigued that you took the time to reply to little ol’ me. So inspired in fact that I share one of your articles on my Facebook page
  • My enthusiasm for your brand sparks comments from friends and I am now in the awesome position of being a brand advocate
  • My friends now “like” your page too and share out your articles with their friends

 
Pretty clear how you can grow your community, but what you really want to know is whether those conversations will translate into sales, right? If I’m being honest (ode to Simon), I’d have to say that I can’t imagine a scenario where your “social” media relationships would not translate to brand fans/converts (aka customers). So the short answer is yes.

Facebook fans are 28% more likely than non-fans to continue being your customer, and 41% more likely to recommend you. ~ Fiona McEachran @abnormalmarket
The Real Cost of Social Media

 

What is the ROI of not engaging?

@prsingleton: Clear cost of not engaging in Social Media is being perceived as a flat-earther. #socialchat

A flat-earther? Maybe not, but Paquito makes a great point. Have you noticed that instead of living in our inboxes or traveling all the way into websites, we are spending our time on social networks and getting  information about favorite brands from our friends and feeds? Websites will not go out of fashion any time soon, especially if you blog, but even with the best SEO on the planet you can’t count on your customers coming to you. So go to them!

Haters will say there is not enough data, success stories can’t be replicated, and the age old “just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should too”. Blah, blah, blah. The fact is it’s not just the cool kids hanging out on social media anymore. Your customers are there, they are talking about you and getting a little peeved that you’re not doing them the courtesy of talking back. 

@LovelyLu: Nothing worse than seeing a brand’s #SM presence w/zero interaction with their community! #socialchat

RT @LovelyLu: Listen to your community, if they are responding, then you are on the right track! #socialchat

 

What is the ROI of missed opportunity?

Unhappy customers happen to the best of us but it is what you do with them publicly that earns you huge trust points in the marketplace. Whatever you do, do not take a customer complaint offline unless you absolutely have to. Reveal your soft underbelly (your mistake), then be human and transparent as you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and make it right. Admittedly, this is a Pollyanna view and your handlers might never allow the public scrutiny or risk the negative exposure, but think about the potential for positive exposure. Social media is not for the faint of heart or weak of character but people like fair, so why not show how you deal from the top of the deck rather than let them guess as to whether you deal from the bottom?
 

Why do social media managers skirt the issue?

We don’t. The fact is social media is fluid and ever-evolving – today’s platforms are tomorrow’s relics.  Every day our understanding grows and technologies emerge to help us provide better metrics but right now, today, we have more data than we can digest about your social media/online performance.

We understand it’s a tight economy and you are being asked to tighten your belts, your shoelaces, and wear Spanx just in case. Cut, reduce, lower, minimize, etc. etc. etc. CFO’s say that revenues must increase or expenses must be cut. It is natural to want to stay with the known (traditional marketing) rather than risking the unknown. You say now is not the time to make changes. We say, if not now, when? What will carry its own weight? What is the most fluid and adaptable marketing venue? What will position you for growth?  What will make your customers and your CFO simultaneously beam?
   

Nitty Gritty Weights and Measures

ROI experts (our name for them, not theirs) each have their own method of calculating your outreach and measuring your success, and most are convincing in their capacity to track all things. Bottom line is community goodwill and customer satisfaction are important brand builders and not to be discounted, but in the kingdom sales reign supreme. The good news is those same experts claim that social media is a direct funnel for sales. We believe it is too as we have seen a continually repeating pattern.

It takes time and effort, but your conversations pay off. Your community becomes your advocate, your knight-in-shining-armor supporter, your biggest fan! And if you’re a purse manufacturer, one guess as to who is top of mind when they want to buy a purse for a gift? The TLC and time spent building a social media relationship has created a warm fuzzy feeling for that potential customer, and you just got yourself a sale missus!

Love this! RT @aknecht: @aschottmuller: Disengaging SM & expecting results like unplugging the fridge and expecting fresh food. #socialchat

 

‘Social’ or ‘Media’? What does Wahine Media actually measure?

  • Brand awareness – who is talking about your brand, where, how often
  • Brand visibility – exposure, impressions, ranking
  • Social Reach – # of platforms, performance, # of discussions, growth
  • Frequency – of engagement, of unique visits
  • Audience – demographics, behaviors, favorites
     

Don’t think of ROI as being medium-specific. Think of it as activity-specific. Are you using social media to increase sales of your latest product? Then measure the ROI of that. How much are you spending on that activity? What is the ratio of cost to gain for that activity? This you can measure. ~ Olivier Blanchard @thebrandbuilder
Social Media and ROI – A Little Bit Of Clarity

 

Define and Align

What are your expected results? Whether your goal is to increase your brand visibility, reduce customer service costs, promote an event or make a sale, social media metrics are available for those who know what they’re looking for. The point friends is to define your plan, including goals and expected outcomes, and align your efforts accordingly. With expectations and benchmarks established up front, we can more than fill your cup with “statistical goodness”.

@jtdabbagian @SocialMichelleR @Aknecht We need to define whether the client wants Quantitative ROI (Stats) or Qualitative (Relationships) #socialchat

Yes! RT @jtdabbagian: @wahinemedia Well, yeah, you tell them what’s going on but do you give then all the statistical goodness? #socialchat

@wahinemedia We give 2 options for monthly reports, 1 detailed, 1 in brief. RT @jtdabbagian: Statistical goodness? #socialchat

 

Our inspiration:

The best explanation of social media ROI we’ve found!
Social Media and ROI – A Little Bit Of Clarity
Olivier Blanchard | The Brand Builder

 

Is It Possible To Measure Social Media Marketing ROI? 
Nick Stamoulis | Brick Marketing


 

The Real Cost of Social Media
Fiona McEachran | Abnormal Marketing

 

5 Reasons Social Media Measurement is Making You Lie to Yourself
Jay Baer | Convince & Convert

 

The ROI of Social Media: 10 Case Studies
Lauren Fisher | The Next Web

Social Chat
  Host: Alan K’necht
  Host: Michele Stinson-Ross
 
  Paquito Singleton
  Louise DiCarlo
  Angie Schottmuller
  James Dabbagian
       

 

Watch for next week’s blog where the Social Media ROI discussion continues…

email
, , ,
  • Thanks guys for featuring me in your post.  More and more businesses should be looking at ROI when it comes to social media and it helps that you are pushing this too.  Thanks again 🙂

    • Aloha Fiona. Your article was an inspiration for our post. Business understands the language of ROI, but they want more understanding as to how it translates in social media. Thanks so much for starting the conversation.

    • Aloha Fiona. Your article was an inspiration for our post. Business
      understands the language of ROI, but they want more understanding as to
      how it translates in social media. Thanks so much for starting the
      conversation.

    • Our pleasure Fiona. Thank you for stepping up to the plate to discuss this important topic.

  • How would you measure a scenario where the end result is a potential customer phoning in to purchase?  Example:  They find me on a social media site, then find my phone number, then book an appointment via phone.   (Asking all clients “how did you hear about us” does not work.)

    • It’s understood that you wouldn’t want to ask every person that calls how they found out about you. Perhaps you could adopt what a lot of phone books do and get a specific number for a specific campaign (like your Facebook page), and that way you can track how many people called from there. Hope this helps! We’re going to be talking more about the numbers or quantitative aspect of social media ROI in our next post so stay tuned!

    • It’s understood that you wouldn’t want to ask every person that calls how they found out about you. Perhaps you could adopt what a lot of phone books do and use a specific phone number for a specific campaign (like your Facebook page), and that way you can track how many people called from there. Hope this helps! Our latest post ROI: What Moves The Needle discusses quantitative ROI, using formulas as examples: http://wahinemedia.com/2011/09/17/social-media-roi-moves-needle/

  • Cdamon001

    I can attest to Karen’s statement, “It’s not just the cool kids hanging out on social media…” (never having been cool a day in my life!). The stat – Facebook fans are 41% more likely to recommend you is compelling.

    • Thanks Charmaine. You are totally cool in my book! ~ Karen

    • Charmaine, you rock! You will always be one of the cool kids, whether you hang on Facebook or hang behind the scenes orchestrating and lifting up others so they can shine.