Home  › Marketing › Strategies

Followers! Likes! Retweets! Value?

  |  January 17, 2012   |  Comments

Many businesses need to better understand why they're investing time and money in social media.

In the column, "Your Social Media Strategy Must Go Beyond Twitter Followers and Facebook Likes," I extolled (thank you, Word-of-the-Day calendar) Dunkin' Donuts for its exemplary use of Twitter in turning my negative customer experience into a net positive. Even though I probably would have continued to patronize them, let's instead say that their thoughtful tweet saved them my business - which we'll estimate at roughly $300 in delicious coffee per year.

As an online marketer and coffee enthusiast, I would then know that the return on engagement (ROE) for that single interaction is extraordinarily high. One prompt reply to my tweet and a direct message couldn't have cost more than $10 in monitoring and labor (according to my math), which would yield a 3,000 percent ROE for 2012. That's fantastic efficiency. But would Dunkin' Donuts know that?

This is the unresolved issue of social media. You can chart the metrics of Facebook likes and Twitter followers six ways to Sunday, but accurately getting a handle on your ROE from social media campaigns? We're a few years into this "social" thing and that's still very murky territory. Analytics companies and social media listening companies exist to track activity, but there is still no industry standard on measuring value. Everyone is free to interpret the number of their followers, likes, and retweets in their own way. Many times I've seen CMOs able to look at their social media data and make compelling cases for and against the ROE of their social media effort, depending on how they choose (and want) to interpret it.

I know more than a few numbers-obsessed finance people who just can't wrap their heads around this. Look at it this way: if you own an online coffee mug shop and spent $100 on Google AdWords and sold either $10 or $400 worth of coffee mugs, you'd have a pretty good idea whether the campaign was worth your investment. If you spend $100 on monitoring and maintaining your coffee mug Twitter account and get 15 new followers, two mentions, and a retweet, is that good? Awful? Somewhere in between?

What do you think would happen if Dunkin' Donuts did away with its Twitter feed? I have no idea what they spend to maintain it, gather data from it, and monitor mentions (like mine), but my guess is that it's a decent amount because they're prompt and thoughtful in their tweets and replies. But what if they scrapped it (or never began it in the first place)? Would their bottom line be affected? It's tough to say, and I'm not even sure Dunkin' Donuts could be certain their ROE was in the black.

But even with the uncertainty, Dunkin' Donuts has a Twitter account. Because they have to have a Twitter account. Because Starbucks and Krispy Kreme have Twitter accounts. Because who doesn't have a Twitter account?

Just to be clear, I am a big fan of social media both from a usability standpoint and as an advertising medium. In addition to the user engagement, social media can have a strong impact on search engine optimization, brand awareness, and now, even paid search.

Many companies need to understand themselves better when it comes to investing time and money in the medium, and to know the reasons why they are executing the strategy they've chosen. If they're concerned with the number of likes on their Facebook page, why is that important? Do they put more stock in a Twitter mention or a retweet, and why? It's natural to try and extrapolate something - anything - meaningful from social media activity (CNN makes a similar case with Rick Santorum, Twitter, and the Iowa primary). But in my opinion it's best to approach social media with a healthy skepticism and clear, pre-defined goals for what your campaigns exist to accomplish.

One final question for you: If you were (or are) the CMO at your company, would you have the guts to pull the plug on your company's social media efforts in the absence of any meaningful business metrics?

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Lerner

Jeff Lerner, vice president, digital media, joined full service digital marketing firm Prime Visibility in 2011 after spending seven years at Google working across all digital media platforms. At Google, Jeff managed the digital advertising spend of the top TV networks and sports leagues, including NBC, ABC, ESPN, the NFL, and Major League Baseball and was responsible for the launch of the advertising sales team in the newly-created Google Brazil office. During his tenure at Google, Jeff has been the 
recipient of numerous awards, including the Sales Excellence Award, Industry Expertise Award, and the Google Impact Award. Jeff holds a BA in sports marketing from George Washington University.

Prime Visibility is owned by blinkx (BLNX), the world's largest and most advanced video search engine, with headquarters in San Francisco and the U.K.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Digital Marketing Analyst
      Digital Marketing Analyst (GovLoop) - Washington D.C.Are you passionate about audience acquisition? Love effective copy and amazingly effective...
    • Product Specialist
      Product Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreDescription: The Product Specialist is hyper-focused on the customer experience and ensures that our...
    • Partnerships Senior Coordinator
      Partnerships Senior Coordinator (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for a Partnerships Senior Coordinator! Why join us? Our...