Moving Beyond Asking “What is the ROI of Social Media?”

Countless publications and blogs, including this blog, have been dedicated to answering what is the “ROI of Social Media.” The question, however, is misguided. To be sure, this is the question your COO and CFO is asking, but greater men and women reply back and answer the question with what they should be asking.

We need to keep in mind two things:

  1. “There is not such thing as Social Media ROI”; and,
  2. “We should be asking ‘What is the big-picture goal and how do we appropriately measure this when using social media as a platform?’”

Indeed, talking about the “Social Media ROI” is like asking “What is the ROI of being in Newsweek?” The answer is: “Well that depends.” Are you placing an ad with a coupon for Lead Generation? Or perhaps doing a Branding-focused Ad? Is the CEO being interviewed in by Newsweek to address customer service issues? Or perhaps its a thought-leadership piece the President of your company has penned about the environment and your industry?

As a lazy marketer, I’ll choose to “stand on the shoulder of giants” and point you to three fantastic pieces that addresses how to really view the “ROI of Social Media” issue: 1) The Right Metrics for the Right Channels/Marketing; 2) Understanding the Right Metrics by understanding the Right Stakeholders; and 3) Remembering how the social media activity fits into the Customer Lifecycle.

  1. Social Media Stakeholders
    Laura Lippay, Director of Technical Marketing at Yahoo!
  2. Social Media Analytics
    Coremetrics Whitepaper
  3. Beyond Monitoring: Managing Social Media Engagements
    Chris Kenton, CEO of SocialRep

See more below:

1. “Social Media Stakeholders” by Laura Lippay (PDF Link:

Laura Lippay resets the “You need to do Social Media” mantra that many are following and instead reminds us the following: 1) Remember what you’re using social media for (Customer Service, Branding etc); and 2) Do you have the right stakeholders in place to strategize, plan, and execute?

Her outline of the goals and stakeholders involved is not only a greater outline of understanding who needs to be invovled in what to succeed, but a great reminder that how you measure your Branding-based Social Media activity or your Lead-Gen focused Social Media Activity is dependent on who your stakeholders are.

All in all, it is a great piece and surprising that according to it has less than 30 clicks.

2. “Social Media Analytics” Whitepaper by CoreMetrics (Link)
Coremetrics’s whitepaper on Social Media Analytics goes into detail on how each type of social media activity (by channel) should be tracked on the tactical level.

3. “Beyond Monitoring: Managing Social Media Engagements” by SocialRep (Webinar)

Chris Kenton, CEO of SocialRep, gives a great webinar on reminding digital marketers to look beyond the tool and the platform to focus on remembering what it is the appropriate channels – not only for the audience – but also for what part of the lifecycle.

See EM’s coverage: Click on the graph above

Closing Summary

As we continue to figure out how to measure Social Media and where it fits in Advertising, Marketing and Customer Relationships, it is important to go back to understanding the Customer Lifecycle and figuring out: 1) The Social Media activity impacts what part of the cycle; 2) Who are the typical stakeholders in the particular parts of the cycle; and 3) How do you translate what the stakeholders need to measure to what you can measure in the Social Media activity?



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

thirteen − five =