©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.
A year and half ago I wrote the column, “The ROI of Social Media Is Zero.” Today, I assert that the ROI of social media is still zero. Let me explain.
A September 2010 survey by Econsultancy found nearly half the respondents said they were not able to measure the return on investment of social media activities or even compare it to the return of other marketing activities. This comes on the heels of another study in April 2010 by R2 Integrated which showed that the biggest obstacle to using social media is the respondents’ belief that there is not enough data or analytics with which to calculate a return.
This is not terribly far-fetched if you consider the following: 1) “people are talking about my brand;” so what? 2) “we have a dashboard which shows pretty red, yellow, and green graphs;” so what? 3) “we just paid a celebrity to tweet about us;” so what? Do any of these things drive sales for the brand? Maybe. Maybe not. Most likely there is simply no way to tell. This is because there isn’t a metric or a series of metrics which can directly and accurately correlate social media actions to sales.
However, there are a few good examples where marketing activities in social networks can drive quantifiable value.