Cision Blog: Post

ROI: a battle for the soul of social media?

Posted: February 24, 2011 at 10:16 am 1 Comment »

An administrator in a bureaucratic world is a man who can feel big by merging his non-entity in abstraction. A real person in touch with real things inspires terror in him.

- Marshall McLuhan

As forecast, it was a punchy #CommsChat session on Monday evening, with (me) @CisionUK chairing a discussion around the return on investment associated with social media.  I’d hoped to look more at traditional comms measurement – and most crucially of all, integrated comms measurement – but the conversation had other ideas.

The full transcript will be available at the CommsChat site soon: keep a particular eye out for the arguments for and against the need to report in business metrics, which are, more often than not, financial metrics. (There are others, of course, whose importance varies according to the nature of your organisation.) I was occasionally reminded of the McLuhan quote above; but is the report-obsessed bureaucrat fending off the terrors of “real people”, or are those SMing with no concern for the bottom-line dealing only in abstraction?

There was a clear consensus about using softer social metrics as KPIs. I was with those who see the point of these KPIs in their correlation with bottom-line business metrics. @LizLancs asked bluntly:

If thinking only about sales, would you set a time limit on converting a follower?

To which the answer, in a certain context, is yes.

Invariably it’s not so straightforward, though. Many potentially bottom-line boosting activities will take time to manifest (think client wins based on socially acquired knowledge, or crowdsourced product developments).

I’d agree that the idea that seeking to tie social media activity immediately to monetary value is “old school marketing“. But seeking always to do so at some stage should be a perennial reality.

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