The ROI of social media is NOT zero!
Measuring ROI on marketing expenditures can be hard. But no one thinks twice about their marketing investment in non-direct marketing like broadcasting, print, out-of-home, and sponsorships. All of these are channels where tracking measurable results are difficult and indirect. Recently there's been a lot of talk about how tough it is to determine the ROI of social media marketing. According to Econsultancy research, about 50 percent of marketers are measuring the return on their social media marketing investment, so it can be done. The fact that marketers are now beginning to be concerned with tracking results from their social media marketing efforts indicates that this is a channel that has moved beyond just testing.
I disagree with fellow ClickZ columnist Augustine Fou who stated that social media marketing's ROI is zero. I would argue very much to the contrary. Social media marketing does yield results when it is defined as return on time and money spent. (For more specifics on return on social media marketing, see here.) Here are five examples of successful social media marketing campaigns and the measurable results they yielded:
When examining the results of your social media marketing campaigns, it's important to understand that the challenges you face are very similar to those presented by more established marketing channels. Among the main challenges and the appropriate responses are:
Assessing the impact of your social media marketing efforts on the bottom line requires understanding related business goals and being able to track the related actions and sales. Further, since many of the costs associated with social media marketing can be internal resources, you have to make a start at assigning a specific dollar amount to each channel/campaign. What's important is to make reasonable estimates and then improve the process as you gain experience.
If you have any additional suggestions that you'd like to add to the conversation, please include them in the comment section below.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
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