[tweetmeme source=”helpmerhonda11″ only_single=false]I have been agonizing about the social media ROI issue for weeks now, and finally decided to give myself a break. After reading every ROI-related thing I could get my hands on, it boils down to this: Marguerita with Salt, or No Salt? In other words, brilliant minds on both sides agree to disagree.
Rather than be original, I am going to paraphrase Jay Baer’s blog, guest written by Matt Ridings, and some of the 38 comments that followed. (I highly recommend a read of the original post: click here).
Proponents of ROI measurement favor defining the metrics that correlate most closely to business goals, carefully tracking these metrics, and measuring ROI as precisely as you can. Anything less is too “squishy”… apparently, the cardinal sin of marketing. Sounds, good, until you consider the other side.
Are such tools available? And, at what cost? As Mark W. Shaefer points out, “You could use up your entire marketing budget in measurement”. Jay Baer says, “What’s the ROI of precisely measuring ROI?” When it comes right down to it, many factors are co-mingled when it comes to that next sale.
Problem is, for a smaller business, resources are spread thinly as it is; if, on my recommendation, more goes into social media, then something else gets less. I feel that I owe my clients more than squishy-ness…but, what can I provide? Newsletter sign-ups? RT’s? Traffic to a blog or comments on a Facebook page? Where is that killer measurement app?
Those of us who work with small businesses live in the real world, the “is traffic coming through the front door, is the phone ringing” world, not some ivory tower. The IBM’s of the world may have the budget and staff to buy advanced dashboards…for now, entrepreneurs have their gut check.
The business owners I work with will give it a few months, then judge if they are seeing a return or not. They are a practical bunch…if they start to see opportunities that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise, it’s a win. Social media is connected to an overall marketing strategy, and is never going to be the sole driver of results, but the bottom line still rules.
For now, I will offer up some metrics, but with little faith. This is not an indictment of the opportunity that social media presents to small business…anyone who knows me, knows that I am a believer. This is an indictment of the meagerness of our toolkit. For now, the debate rages on. I basically agree with Matt’s closing:
“What a client really wants is a way to say semi-definitively that the decisions they have made were worthwhile. Social media ROI is about defense, not offense. You should measure as specifically and rigorously as you can, but the inability to precisely measure ROI shouldn’t be an obstacle to social participation, and too many companies are using “we don’t know the ROI” as a smokescreen for their fear of openness”.
Fellow small business marketers, I’d love you to weigh in on social media ROI…do you measure or use your gut?…thanks!