People talking about social media ROI on the internet are making me angry. I am tired, folks. Tired of the bullshit. Tired of the mathematical inaccuracies. Tired of unilateral solutions. Tired of people with no experience claiming to be experts. I need a cold press, a gossip magazine and some chocolate to calm me down. ROI equals money out as a result of money in. Period. I don’t really need to debate this further, because a million people already have and the last thing the internet needs is another repetitive blog post. I’d rather talk unicorns, discoballs, and diamonds in the rough.
Discoballs are the life of the party and the easiest way to break up single light source and see its spread across the room. Much like the discoball, the easiest way to track social media ROI is to track how your message breaks up and sparkles across the web. How do we do this? Dum dum dum- Tracking codes. Cha Ching- Referral source. Badda Boom- Average basket value. I could continue listing sound effects followed by metrics, or I could just call a 70s glitter infused dance propellant what it is- web analytics. Using your web analytics program to make sure the right tracking, approach, and benchmarking is done prior to the launch of any initiative will allow you to see how your message travels and reflects across the web. It will also allow you to show how those reflections have resulted in moola. Shiny shiny ROI party spectacular magic. Party time.
Now onto unicorns. Sure, I believe in them. Have I ever seen one? No. Does that cause me to dispute their existence? No. The second part of social media ROI measurements are much like a unicorn-they’re difficult to see clearly, but its nearly impossible to dispute their existence (unless you are a heartless soul-crushing bastard and hate Lisa Frank). More specifically this unicorn analogy is perfect to represent halo effects of social media on other conversion channels. While I can’t be 100% certain that massive increase on a certain site driving a search term or that direct traffic is the result of a strong word-of-mouth campaign, I also shouldn’t automatically assume it isn’t. One of the biggest challenges marketers face in ROI calculation is that the product of events are no longer confined to the channel they launched in. Indirectly traceable metrics, though while in someways technically impossible to see perfectly, still exist. To see the effects of these halo metrics you can compare trend traffic to traffic during the campaign. Pre- and post-campaign spend analysis also can be effective in seeing potential revenue effects. The super duper data purists are probably braying at the idea of attribution analysis; let’s be honest–that’s tricky and sometimes expensive stuff to do.
Now while disco balls and unicorns are pretty awesome some of the most desirable metrics go unrealized because they aren’t revenue earning, they are revenue saving. Just one little diamond in the rough can be enough to justify the entire program. Story time!! When I worked at Citi, there was a customer who was having banking issues and complaining via Twitter. The customer service team stepped in only to find this wasn’t just any client, but a high revenue, multi-relationship client–one that the bank didn’t want to lose. Social Media customer servicing was able to save the client and in turn the revenue generated as part of the relationship. In short ,customer service had found a diamond in the rough. Now these precious cost saves don’t just happen in customer service. Every time you make a product improvement based on consumer feedback, discover product issues, or are to reduce agency or partner costs should be accounted for. The biggest issue with these gems is not finding them–it’s not discovering their value. Too often these crystals often go unreported, unaccounted for, and therefore are considered to have no value. It’s important you seek out enough information when these diamonds arise to make sure you can add a little bling bling and revenue sparkle to your balance sheet.