The social web is rife with self-appointed social media marketing experts/gurus/ninjas who deftly skirt the fact that they don’t understand Return on Investment. Rather than educate themselves, they invent and attempt to rationalize terms like “Return on Influence”, or they crack clever one-liners like “What’s the return on your mother?”. By all appearances, some of these people are wildly successful. Some of them are no doubt intelligent and hard working. Some have the cult of celebrity on their side. For others, it’s the cult of personality. Some were fortunate to be early to the space. And many… are just pretending. Caveat Emptor.
The Real Irony
The real irony – the irony missed in the cartoon above – is that you can’t expect to enjoy sustained success in business by ignoring such a basic business fundamental as ROI. By understanding how to track and calculate the ROI of our efforts, we can make better business decisions. We can re-invest in what works, we can re-think strategy and tactics to maximize returns and – in the worst case scenario – we can stop throwing good money after bad. We can stop doing what isn’t working. ROI is arguably the most important success metric.
There is no point in debating whether or not the ROI of social media programs is measurable. Of course it is. If you need a roadmap, get to know Olivier Blanchard: Follow him on twitter @thebrandbuilder. Read The BrandBuiler Blog, or buy his book and read it. Likewise, there is no point in debating whether or not ROI should be measured. Of course it should. You’re in business.
However you want to define it: All marketing requires investment. And all marketing involves risk. Successful, strategic marketing is a process that always involves experimentation, measurement and analysis and re-investment. Successful marketing brings rewards like sustainable growth and profit, and – ultimately – results in a measurable Return on Investment.
Social Media Isn’t Free
Sure, many social media tools are free, or inexpensive – but there are real costs in simply establishing yourself in the space – let alone in developing a strategy and executing campaigns. To succeed, you will invest (and therefore risk) very real and always limited company resources. You can establish goals and objectives. You can research. You can strategize. You can plan. You can execute to the best of your abilities and measure your progress toward your objectives and goals. In other words, you can do alot to minimize your risks and maximize your probabilities for achieving healthy return on investment. So do that.
And be sure to measure you’re ROI.