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Debating Whether Social Is Social and ROI!

Jay Baer, Ted Rubin, Nichole Kelly and Jeff Rohrs were featured on a panel at Social Media Marketing World that asked if, “Have we lost the social in social media?”

The group debated whether or not brands have ruined or lost the meaning behind social media in their pursuit of ROI.

Return on relationships guru Ted Rubin thought social for businesses comes down to time and energy.

“It’s all about your attitude and what you want to do,” said Ted. “Are you networking and engaging? Brands have this opportunity every day, and they are lazy and just want to publish content instead of interacting. They want it to be like old media.”

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“Social media ROI won’t be easier, it will just be easier to measure,” said Social Media Explorer CEO Nichole Kelly. “There is more value in social media than impressions, but businesses want to buy impressions.”

Nichole Kelly added that if a blog isn’t getting comments (on or off the blog), then it’s not good enough.

“We want engagement not reach,” said Nichole. “Reach doesn’t pay the bills. Social Media Explorer wants to turn itself into a revenue producing brand.”

ExactTarget’s Jeff Rohr disagreed with the belief that businesses were lazy. A debate ensued about whether or not one on one engagement could scale.

Rohr said, “Social is just maturing as a business, and advertising is not going to go away. Brands will always want to pay for access to people they don’t already have access to.”

The panel also debated whether or not it made sense to restrict employee use of social media at work, and whether or not it is easier to consume or update on a smartphone.

Jay Baer said, “It’s easier to post a social update from a phone than consumer content from a phone.”

What Brands Say About ROI


From left to right: Nichole Kelly, Nick Robinson, Scott Gulbransen and Lewis Bertolucci

ROI Brands Panel was moderated by Nichole Kelly, who asked panelists Nick Robinson (SAP), Scott Gulbransen (DSI) and Lewis Bertolucci (Humana) about their experiences delivering ROI via social media. Each had a unique take on the topic.

Robinson noted that SAP looks at a variety of statistics to determine ROI. He included reach, estimated uniques, engagement and conversions in his comments.

SAP experienced several challenges determining ROI, including fragmented data systems, analytical skills amongst workers and no control over lead path.

The moment we were able to show touch in the pipeline is the moment that sales and C-level executives moved from skeptical to interested, said Robinson.

“Technology was a huge issue, and talent needed to evolve,” said Robinson. “People don’t have an understanding of digital, social and data analysis. Plus we needed the expertise to work with the tech. We are evolving the talent now to measure ROI.”

Scott Gulbransen discussed his work with social response flow at tax company H&R Block.

“We needed to understand how to intercept and help clients, and deliver service where people wanted it (Twitter),” said Scott. “By working with engaged customers, we were able to show a higher retention rate and showed direct ROI.”

H&R Block also looked at Net Promoter Score as a measurement tactic.


Scott noted that the first hurdle for brands is aligning social metrics to KPIs. He suggested showing how social and content is being engaged and touched on by customers.

He also said work with internal detractors and show them successes. Detractors who were protecting fiefdoms turned into supporters at H&R Block, and that was a good thing.

Humana’s Lewis Bertolucci said it was necessary to speak “C Suite.” Specifically, talk in the executives’ language, make it simple and set expectations.

It’s necessary to frame conversations in dollars and cents, and not follower counts and engagement. That’s what executives care about.

At Humana, they focus on leads, awareness and engagement. Bertolucci said that bandwidth was a challenge for the social team, as was extrapolating soft measures that are available from social networks.

One interesting challenge for Humana was lead attribution.

“Last touch measurement for attribution of leads is not a valid model anymore,” said Bertolucci. “We need to see the whole lead path, compare that to the Net Promoter score, and [understand] how that’s impacting conversion rates. It’s all about isolating engaged social media users, and how they are interacting with the company.”

Learn how to use a multi-touch attribution model. Get our white paper today!

Images: Geoff Livingston, Geoff Livingston (Creative Commons)

About Cision Contributor

This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.

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