Social Media and ROI

ROII often hear varying degrees of dis-satisfaction when it comes to social media campaigns.  The biggest complaints tend to be ‘not getting enough sales’, not seeing (or being able to measure) a return on our investment and for those on the fence, not seeing how a social media campaign has value.  When speaking with prospective clients I try to make one thing clear:

You have to look at the big picture. Online marketing is as much about driving exposure and branding as it is sales.  What social media offers is the two way communication component that allows more personal interaction with your customers and clients.  Building that relationship, in addition to greater brand awareness is what ultimately leads to more sales and referrals.  While some businesses will and do see direct sales as a result of social media posting (a couple of my clients more than pay for management fees with the sales generated directly attributable to their posts) for most businesses it can be very difficult if not impossible to accurately measure ROI.  That makes it very difficult for anyone to guarantee a return or measure it.

Look at it this way.  The ONLY way to know for a fact that a sale came from a Facebook is if your client tells you as much.  If you are running multiple marketing campaigns the likelihood is that your client doesn’t remember exactly when they heard about you and what prompted them to call or buy.  Adding to the confusion,  I know for a fact that many of the customers of a client have searched Google, found the link to Facebook and contacted the business via a message.  Do we attribute that sale to Facebook or Google?  A Google search would be how the business was found, but was it the Facebook marketing efforts that resulted in the high ranking leading them back to Facebook?

With social media ROI is more abstract and the business needs to focus on empirical data.  Over the course of you’re campaign have you seen a increase in website traffic – page visits, inquires or orders?  Have you received more calls in general?

Due to the nature online marketing it can be very difficult to attribute sales to a campaign. It’s about supporting your traditional marketing efforts, not just about sales and ROI. If you’re strictly after sales from posts and emails, you will be disappointed.


About Robert Nissenbaum

Kayaker | Speaker | Writer | Consultant. Twisted views on brand, content, social media marketing, & SEO which get results; Voice of @tsomedia & @wordcampseattle
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2 Responses to Social Media and ROI

  1. yannick says:

    I agree that it is very hard to determine the return of social media campaigns. However, there are a many tools that let companies measure the impact of their social media engagements, and there are ways to estimate the ROI, for example by calculating how much you save by reducing the use of traditional media and channels.

    • Yannick,

      Looking at the cost reduction from decreased use of more traditional marketing is a great way to ‘measure’ ROI. My biggest issue is business owners…and rightfully so…they want and need to know how effectively they are spending their money. Even traditional marketing can be a challenge depending on the channel used.


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