ROI vs. Impact – a discussion whose time has come

June 20, 2009

The other day I was a panelist on the Skeptical CMO radio show. We regularly put out broadcasts exploring the challenges, perspective and solutions applicable to C-level executives and specifically those in a Marketing Director or higher role.

Well, Wednesday’s discussion got lively when a listener asked the panel about ROI measurements when it comes to using social media.

We all realize – if we’ve been using social media for any length of time – that ROI is elusive because of the lead time these tools require. What I mean here is that if you tweet something today, it may have a measurable impact either NEVER or after a significant period of time. Rarely is a social media approach immediately effective.

That said, let’s talk for a second about ROI and Impact.

If my clients ask me to show them ROI on a social media campaign that I’ve implemented for them I counter with a request for financial and customer service logs. If I’m allowed to look at month-over-month stats in these areas, from before the campaign began to the present, I can at least show impact figures.

I would further do my work and scour the media world for mentions of my client’s brands.

Then I would collect this information and show the client that our efforts together had a measurable impact and that a likely ROI would soon follow. Some impact specifics you can look for and share are…

Blog posts by influential writers
Media mentions of your brand and your messaging
Site metrics including critical ‘where from’ information
Customer service logs that track reasons for calls
Inbound communication (email and other calls not routed to CS)
Changes in site ranking
And of course, sales figures

Once you compile this information, the skeptical client (who must already have released some of that attitude if they’re paying you to leverage social media tools on their behalf) will be even more convinced that a marketing campaign that uses all tools properly is the correct strategy.

Finally, feel free to share this one example when confronted with social media challenges…

The billboard a client just paid $50,000 for is probably going to generate fewer calls and less traffic to their Website than half a dozen well-placed messages and links in the social media space. And the cost to do that is 1/50th or less than the sign by the side of the highway.

What can you share about measuring ROI and Impact in the social media sphere?

Keep reading!