Since beginning to explore the vast world of social media, I have truly believed that the value of this space is the opportunity to access curated and qualified conversations, relationships, and communities.
After watching another awesome 2-minute gem by Seth Godin, who effortlessly sums up the framework of social networks (Oh yea, this was in early 2009), I was inspired to share my thoughts and experiences.
What is ROI, Anyway?
At the end of the day, despite how much attention the definition has attracted in the social media field, Return on Investment is still a very subjective term. To effectively measure ROI, you have to correctly determine and define all of the various inputs and outputs, as well as how that return actually ties into the bigger picture of your organizational strategy.
This becomes a highly customized equation, and while there may be a handful of best practices, it always comes down to the goals and objectives of the individual professional or organization combined with their unique situation and environment.
Social Media and the ROI Hype
I believe that part of the craze around businesses needing hard proof of ROI in social media is around fear of change and the unknown. The world is changing, how we engage, share, and make decision is influenced by our ability to globally connect with the world on a massive scale – and this is new. For businesses, being able to see and acknowledge proof of investing in this new space allows for some certainty in an otherwise very uncertain field.
The problem is, this space is so new that there is no comprehensive textbook on ROI, nor should there be. Because of the mad rush to “get social” individuals and businesses are identifying cases and strategies where return on investment has been proven (or articulated) and blindly replicating this strategy without due consideration of the unique set of variables that make their business much different from any given case study.
Return on Relationships… Customizing ROI
At the boutique business-consulting firm I work with called Tekara Organizational Effectiveness, we know that value is held in the trust and relationships we build with our clients and business community. This function of connecting with the right people, having engaging conversations, and building valuable relationships is at the core of everything we do.
Because this is a core value and business driver for Tekara, we have implemented this thinking into our social media communications strategy.
Take a look…
*Note* This visual model is entirely based on the ability for us to qualify and curate our online communities. While having engaging conversations and building real relationships CAN hold incredible value, it is only valuable if they are the RIGHT conversations and the RIGHT relationships.
Building Qualified and Targeted Communities
There is really nothing that special about this model, but when identifying and using the appropriate tools, channels, and techniques (which are informed by our strategy), we are able to sort through all of the noise and focus specifically on the people, organizations, conversations, and relationships that are aligned to our brand and where we can truly add value!
We have seen some great success in a number of our metrics and measurements by leveraging this strategy; from social footprint and community sentiment, to website traffic, lead generation, and new business opportunities.
A Measurement Equation
So to break it down to a very simple equation, if we know that the number of qualified and targeted conversations and relationships we are able to create and build, has a direct impact on our ability to generate leads, be exposed to great business opportunities, and at the end of the day add real value to our organization, than we can effectively use this as one measure of social ROI through this strategy.
Join the Conversation
Of course, this is just food for thought, and I am eager and curious to hear your voice on this topic!
- How have you measured your investment in social media?
- What would you like to see?
- What has worked well?