A double-standard on social media marketing?

If you’ve been reading the blog posts this week about social media and measurement, you owe it to yourself to read the fascinating comment section under the article The biggest lie in social media marketing. Smart people read this blog!!

One commentary from Trey Pennington reflects a common obstacle for many of us — a clear management double standard regarding social media versus traditional channels:

I think we’ll all find that measuring ROI for social media isn’t really that challenging … yes, ROI is exclusively a dollar denominated (or percentage) measure. If you’re not measuring dollars back in/dollars out, then you’re not measuring ROI.

That being said, Dave Lahkani makes a good point in his new post: the discussion about social media ROI is an excuse. Because people touting social media keep talking in circles about ROI, executives know they can squash a new idea just by questioning “ROI.” Besides, they sound really smart using an acronym.

Do those same executives debate the ROI of their executive perks? Their bonuses? Conferences? Or, do they really spend that much time pondering the ROI for THEIR favorite media?

I once worked with a large B2B firm that spent 1/2 of it’s entire marketing/advertising/PR/IR budget on display advertising in trade magazines. Even after I showed them a media buyer’s study documenting their target market did not read the trade pubs, they continued the trade flight. Why? Because their head-to-head competitor did. (I wonder if the competitor was doing the same thing!)

Bottom line: we need to merely document the impact engagement through social media has on financial performance and be bold at engaging while we do.

This is Part Six of a series examining social media marketing measurement.

Part 2: Social media ROI shock treatment

Part 3: Irresponsible social media measurement research

Part 4: Social media impact on brand equity

Part 5: The most important question to ask in social media marketing

Part 6: A double standard for social media marketing?

Part 7: Yes, it IS about the money!

Part 8: Creating a measurement plan

Part 9: Measurement is like a bartender

All posts

  • Steve Dodd

    OK, I've been waiting for someone else to start a discussion here but since it's not happening, it's time.

    Mark, this time I'm going to disagree with you on one point (dare I say Hooey?). I really don't see the double standard.

    The executive perks you are talking about do not have "justification based ROI" because they are performance rewards. Their justification is that they are the reward (investment) for the value of the individual's performance.

    Trade shows and conferences also have a distinct ROI considering leads generated and industry information shared.

    And as far as media spend is concerned, well, there I will agree. But most of that is because "that's the way it's always been done". It doesn't need "justification" because its use is more "fear" based (fear of consequences being justification itself) because it’s just the way it is and always has been.

    We as an industry are changing all of that. But it will take time. And the only way it will change is with tangible proof (like anything else new).

    Now, here comes the Rant:

    I absolutely hate the term Social Media! Why? Because it puts a restrictive box around a broad platform with many, many more purposes than the term Media suggests. Media has a distinct definition and purpose. It is only one of many "Applications" for the "Social Web".

    As stated in my comments above, you cannot lump the justification for trade shows and conferences in the same bucket as advertising or even executive perks. Each is unique and specific.

    Likewise, we need to be considering justification and ROI of the Social Web individually by "application". Some examples include Sales, Customer Service, Market Research, Competitive Intelligence and of course Advertising (Media). Each is distinctly different. The only common element is the platform for communication and intelligence aggregation. Just like the Internet itself is a platform with multiple purposes, each with its own distinct value proposition.

    So, I do believe your last statement is absolutely correct with one exception; merely. We need to deliver "Purpose Based" impact which actually requires distinct specialties in each "Purpose". Not all companies will use them all and each will deploy specific purposes at different stages depending on their business priorities. But, each purpose will have a distinct justification that delivers measurable value.

    Net/Net: We must stop trying to pile all the different applications or purposes of the Social Web into a single bucket (or term – Media). I believe that in itself will alleviate the vast majority of the problem.

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