How to save your butt when the social media bubble bursts

I am going to go on a rant. But first, while I still have my composure, allow me to tell you a short, yet relevant, story.

I started my corporate career in the midst of an economic downturn for my industry.  I was working for a Fortune 100 company and to get through this difficult time, the company brought in an outside consulting group to conduct a little exercise called “Overhead Value Analysis.” Simply put, every person from the adminstrative assistant to a vice president had to stand up in front of a group of strangers and justify their existence by explaining how they were contributing to shareholder value.

This was a very stressful exercise, especially for a young man who was still finding his way to the water cooler.  But thankfully I was always a numbers geek and could pull out a chart (probably drawn by hand in those days) to show what I was doing, why I was doing it, and how what I was accomplishing was tied to the company objectives. This was an important lesson in my young career and one that has always served me well through many downturns along the way.

So when I hear another round of gurus pontificating last week about the unnecessary annoyance of measuring social media activities I want to shake somebody. I am so very sick of people who have never had to work in a corporate bureaucracy or manage through a budget crisis explain that measuring social media is like measuring your mother, or your pants. Here’s another one that drives me nuts: “The ROI of social media is that your company exists in five years” … again implying that you need to do social media, just because you need to do social media. Bullshit.

Don’t you believe it. You MUST keep measuring, assessing, adjusting, improving.  Never get caught with your stats down.

At some point in the life of every company, there will be a financial imperative to slash overhead costs. The bubble always bursts, at least in a free economy.  When that happens, everything will be evaluated under the icy glare of number-crunchers — do we cut or not cut? This is the day of reckoning that defines the ”implied economic value” of any effort. Even something as seemingly mundane as social media. You better be able to articulate a business case, and it better be something better than page views and Klout scores, Bub.

Why? Social media is NOT FREE. Every economic activity in a corporation directly or indirectly has to contribute to shareholder value.

Let’s look at how “un-free” social media really is. Let’s assume you have one person working full-time on social media marketing. We’ll assign that person a salary of $60,000. In a typical company, standard health, 401(k) and other benefit costs equal another 50% of the base salary, or in this case, $30,000.

We’ll assign another 20% of base salary for overhead such as office space, shared services support and technology. That’s $12,000. We won’t even address travel, training, or bonuses.

So, our minimal full-up cost for one social media professional is $102,000. As a business owner, are you willing to spend more than $100,000 per year without requiring any accountability for a return? What kind of a company are you running?

I’m a practical guy. I know it may be cost-prohibitive or even impossible to determine the specific ROI of your efforts. Sometimes you need to look at qualitative tools for social media measurement. But there is no excuse for not tracking key measures that contribute to your company’s goals. To support your credibility, your long-term viability, and your personal career in social media marketing, YOU MUST MEASURE. 

This is an emotional topic for some, but it shouldn’t be. This is basic business common sense.  Are you with me on this one?

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  • This is something that has been on my mind lately. One of my bosses wants to know the ROI of my growing Twitter presence.

    I now have a stat for him – Sunday was the first day I launched my blog. I had about a dozen page views. The next day, Monday I Tweeted my new blog post, and I posted it to my Facebook blogging group, where Chris Brogan saw it and Tweeted it as well.

    I had 215 views on that one page. Many views came from Twitter. That was ONE Tweet. Did he get me all that traffic? Not all of it, but I bet you it was a substantial part of why that post did so well.

    How do you measure that? To me, the return was almost immediate. I have to figure out how to show that to the bosses. I am so glad you wrote this Mark. I am going to go read the links now. Thanks again for all you do.

  • I think this is one of the key things that small businesses or solo entrepreneurs miss out on massively. They’re so busy rushing around trying to implement a social media online marketing strategy that they forget to collect data and assess what’s working and what’s not.

    From small businesses to global corporations, data is vital to the progress of our marketing campaigns.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Your boss is asking the right question … kind of. You need to be able to tie this stuff to company objectives, but usually it is cost-prohibitive to measure ROI for small companies. So you need to look at other measures, but you do need to measure.

    I think your example is great. Your blog got picked up and promoted by an influential throught leader. There is value to that but it can’t be easily put on a financial spreadsheet. When it comes to the social web, we need to expand our mind about the potential business benefits but still provide evidence that what we are doing is meaningful.

    BTW, for our community here … what is the link to your blog?

  • Anonymous

    Mark, the topic of measuring ROI in social media seems to have two distinct camps…the “mother and pants” camp, and the measurement camp. It really boils down to looking at things both qualitatively and quantitatively…stories and numbers.

    With my clients, I work on defining a target, whether that be numbers and measurement, or stories and anecdotes. The key is: MEASURE SOMETHING! Even if you’re wrong, you’re right, because you’ve set a target, or goal. Without something to reach for, without something to measure, how do you know if you’re winning or losing?

    Whether it’s social media or traditional forms of advertising/marketing, I always ask the question: “For the x$ or time you’re spending, what’s your anticipated rate of return…in what timeframe…for what results?” Tell me a number or tell me a story: doesn’t matter. As long as we enter the game with a goal in mind, we’re far better equipped to determine next-steps, than if we’re just scattering our efforts to the wind and the world, without regard to what we might expect/desire/anticipate in return. Kaarina

  • Mark W Schaefer

    And it’s not that difficult either. We have so many numbers flying at us : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    But I just don’t get the “mother and pants” camp (love that!) If you don’t measure it, you can;t manage it. If you can’t manage it, you will embed a lot of waste and frustration in an organization. Hurray for you as you lead clients toward a data-based approach … and stories are perfectly fine too!

  • Silly me, I forgot to link to my blog! It is a work in progress, but I just needed to get it shipped.

    Hopefully that link works.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so with you Jon! And as Mark says, it’s not difficult to do. For some reason, people just avoid it like the plague.

    And I had to giggle with the image of “busy rushing around”. I had a conversation with a business owner yesterday, and after they spent 40 minutes having a coffee chatting with me, they then told me they were “too busy” to “do” social media…never mind measure it! Too funny.

    To measurement!…quantitative and qualitative:) Kaarina

  • This rant made my morning man. I remember having to justify my own existence and prove my accountability for a couple of years being able to track how I was contributing to the company bottom line with social. If I walked into a presentation asking them the ROI of their mother, I wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long. Like you, I’ve been fortunate to learn how to use data as a form of accountability fairly early on.

  • My issue is with people who throw the word ROI around as if it’s the answer to everything. Or use it as a reason not to invest in social media. You need goals but yes, sometimes you do have to run on a little faith. And measurement isn’t enough. Do you know what you’re measuring and why? I originally come from the traditional side of marketing where everything is apparently measureable but really, what’s the ROI of a billboard ad? It depends. On a lot of variables. Know what your want to achieve and that will help you determine what you need to measure and that will most likely deliver your ROI.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Good to know you are acquiring this skill!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I like that notion of establishing your goals early on and using social to support them. A key idea, Mike. I also use that billboard ad as example! Think how much easier it is to measure online performance today. Marketing measurement is much more affordable and scientific in many ways. Thanks for the great comment.

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  • Love this. So true. One of the best bosses I had frequently asked me to provide detail on my performance. It wasn’t a performance review, it was an update on what I was doing. It didn’t have to be mind-blowing numbers. As a matter of fact, she encouraged understanding of failure – that’s how we learn. Social media is the same way. You can’t say you do this, then in a year or six months sit back and think about it. You have measure, all the time, every time. When you do, you constantly build muscle memory and understand the positive path. That makes you better.

  • To be honest I’m no good at measuring anything and fortunately I’m not in a position where I have to. So, I don’t have anything insightful to add to the subject.

    But I loved this sentence, “Never get caught with your stats down.” It makes me want to go find stats, any stats, just so I’m prepared!

  • Last week, I attended a local panel (after #soslam) about “Social Media and the Media.” Someone in the audience asked about how these journalists were measuring success – not only could not a single one of them say how they did it, but one of them actually said “You can’t really measure the ROI of social media.” I was appalled. I would think that someone in journalism – a field that is in serious trouble – would NEED to be able to prove their worth.

    At any rate, I blogged for Jayme here ( about this, and compiled some resources for people interested in how they can measure their efforts. Based on your post, I see I missed out on including some of yours. Sorry for the oversight!

  • Marty Thompson

    All of the stuff we collectively call social media when used as a marketing tool does require measurement. Marketing as a discipline is based on the use of scientific methods. (Kids, this ia why math is important even if you are not going to be a mathematics professor)
    I think the key is to know when the act of measurement is built upon tired old marketing tricks baked into the alledged social interaction. Perhaps some marketing gurus out there will figure out that sometimes just telling people what you are doing, what you are attempting to measure, and why, might just be valuable. The victor in this war of measure versus magic will be the one that takes the best of both, and gives the customer the benefit of doubt.

  • Nice rant, Mark. For those of us who are business owners of marketing/PR firms, every day we wake up unemployed. If we don’t deliver value to our clients (i.e. help move their bottom lines upward), we don’t have retainers or projects for very long. As I mentioned in our Social Slam session on ROI, we need to speak the language of numbers to the CFO/CEO and measure everything we can. Then tie all the measurements to business outcomes. Did your tweet that linked to a website drive traffic and ultimately result in a phone call or meeting? Did your tweet attract the attention of a reporter who reached out to source you for an article? Did you learn competitive intelligence from a friend’s Facebook post? Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree with you more Paul, and I love the “constantly build muscle memory” comment. And I agree with the encouraging failure: we learn more from our mistakes than from the things we do well.

    I always say, “make a mistake…but make that particular mistake only once”:)

  • Craig Lindberg

    Mark, I agree there’s growing thought among C-level execs that they give some acknowlegement to social media but deep down still think it’s free so why bother measuring what isn’t supposedly costing you anything. It’s treated with all the seriousness of ‘stop by the store on the way home…loaf of bread, gallon of milk and some social media. Got it.’ I routinely speak with their emissaries who have been tasked with said mission that are caught in a Catch-22 of how to explain to their boss there’s more to it than that, and keeping their job. The upshot is as the proponents we have to be prepared to do some serious ‘splaining on the topic but most importantly to the ROI issue, always ask ‘by what criteria are you going to measure success’. And even then many acknowledge the process, value and need, then retreat to a comfort zone of “SM Light” that has all the gusto of near-beer. Thankfully there are those who do get it, embrace it and support it and they are the clients who know the best thing for their business is to find the right people to ‘get on the bus’ and then let them do the work.

  • I’ve long been a fan of Olivier Blanchard (, who’s a world-leader in this field (I’m not an affiliate – just a fan).

    I’m sure a lot of us in the community probably read his blog – but I’d urge members of the community also to buy his book (just out last month) called, aptly, ‘Social Media ROI’. Here’s the Amazon link ( He takes the whole thing on another mile in the book. You’ll get deeper insight into what measurements matter and why. He walks you through the whole thing from the computer screen to the board room step-by-step. Inspiring stuff.

    Thanks for another important post Mark. And will you indulge me as I, for the first time, post a link in the community – to my own recent blog on ROI?

  • I’m not sure why there is an issue about measurement when there are so many options to be able to do so. Maybe part of the reason for the confusion is the fragmentation of data sources and focus on metrics that are not directly relevant (klout, peerindex scores etc).

    At the basic level most websites have historical data and one should be easily able to measure and compare the impact of social media activities on this data. e.g: how many more visits after facebook and twitter v.s before.
    I wrote a guest post on using google analytics to measure, track compare as well as set up goals

    I’m not sure why any business would be ready to undertake activity without some way to measure impact of the service. Does this really happen?

  • One of the best lines I ever heard was that experience is what enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. (Franklin Jones – I looked it up!)

  • Hi Mark,

    I think one of the biggest problems in discussions of Social Media ROI is that you have a lot of folks doing Social Media who aren’t coming from a corporate or marketing background. A lot of people think that measuring ROI means measuring how many clicks to your website you receive from your Twitter count or from your Facebook page. While that’s important, what really matters is the next step – do those people buy?

    The reason that I think we haven’t gotten very far in the Social Media ROI conversation is because people don’t really “get” ROI. It’s a return on investment. People look for the return but don’t weigh it against their investment, which, as you point out, is primarily time and expertise when it comes to the online world. But time is money, non?

  • Well, this post certainly struck a nerve, didn’t it?! Last week I was in Oregon, speaking on measurement, and I pretty much said the same things, though I didn’t touch on the “mother or pants” stuff. The folks I was talking too were, fortunately, beyond that, and they’d probably have gasped at that as any kind of argument.

    I do think there is a lot of confusion with the profusion of tools available, and that drives folks nuts, so they start measuring the tools instead of the objectives. Me, I’d much rather start out with very simple objectives, and see how we’re doing as we go along. The great thing about tracking constantly is that it can impact the strategy immensely. There’s no other way of knowing what is or isn’t working. And I’d rather keep the strategy and tactics flexible to pursue what *is* working, to achieve the goals, than stick to a hard line and fail.

  • Mark,

    This is definitely not the easiest thing for many people to here. I’m not a numbers guy but I also know that I have to be able to show the value of what I’m doing for people. With the Fightster blog, which eventually was supposed to turn into a product I was building an audience of fans to get the word out about our product. The other thing that came about it was a speaking opportunity to talk the our entire industry, which in turn would have put the product on the radar of our industry had it launched in time. But there were certain things out of my control. The other thing that I think is really causing this is something you brought up. There’s lots of people who haven’t been in the corporate environment that are building up a substantial presence in social media. In fact I’ve mentioned more than a few times on our podcast that what’s going on is you have bloggers trying to become entrepreneurs and and many of them have never run businesses before. that’s where much of this stems from.

  • Well said, sir! Well, said.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    A lot of people think marketing is “creative.” It’s not, although the execution ultimately may be. At the end of the day, it’s about finding opportunity, strategy and direction through smart analysis. My take, any way! Thank you very much for taking the time to comment, Ryah!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Oh stories like that rile me up. It just gives us all a bad name. Not long ago one of the opt bloggers recommneded that folks try to get away with as measuring as little as possible and “nothing” was best. Arrgh.

    Thanks for this wonderful link and post. You are such a fine writer!! I loved seeing you last week.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You are my hero. I’m not worthy. Great comment Marty!!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Ladies and gentleman, may I present the voice of reality, the voice of authority, the voice of reason … Ms. Anne Deeter Gallaher! Perfectly stated. Thank you!!!

  • Very well put. Seeing more and more the need to have some stats to back up the hype, or the hype outruns its own momentum and the plug gets pulled. Good call.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    There is a big difference between “doing” social and “Being” social. You can “do” social and experiment and dabble. Not much harm in it. But to do it right and “be” social, it is an investment and a commitment like any other marketing initiative and we need to be serious about it! I really value this agency perspespective Craig!

  • I go back to the age old mantra “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” – there are no ifs, buts or any other clause in that statement. Measurement must be a part of your SM strategy. At the end of the day the only thing the C-level suite says is “show me the money.” How are you impacting my bottom line? What tangible value is SM bringing to the organization? I completely understand how nebulous the benefits are but you just have to devise ways to measure the value of SM to your particular organization. What’s your goal? Is it branding, customer service, sales…..? Start there then pinpoint measures that impact these.

    Mark I got with you on the rant this was me -> AMEN! AMEN! (As I stood and slapped my desk – you took me to SM church!) In truth I think its simple common sense and if you have to explain to someone why they need to measure anything then they need to just fire themselves.

  • “Everyday we wake up unemployed” – now isn’t that the truth. Oooooo wee

  • Wow. Thanks for that shout out, Mark. The bottom line is always a reality check. If you can’t measure it and make money, then you won’t have a budget for very long–in the business world.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Excellent post, Michael. I’m glad to see you stick to the script about ROI being a financial measure. When people talk about the different types of ROI, it is like fingernails on a chalk board to me. There is no credibility in that. There are many kinds of measures but there is a strict definition of ROI that does not need to be breeched. Great job!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I see it all the time. But it is also a reflection on an attitude of many companies in general. Thanks Jacob!

  • Loved that statement too. My thing is cover your hiney!!!! Even if no one asks for them as a business professional you just need to know your worth. It’s not good enough to say I do a good job, you have to have proof. IMHO

  • Mark W Schaefer

    To a small business owner (like moi) time is more important than money! I agree with your assessment about the deficit in experience being a root casue here in most cases. Thanks for adding your wisdom to the discussion.

  • Thanks for the compliment Mark, that means a lot coming from my first social media mentor!

  • Mark,

    It’s my contention that it’s all an act by Gary to attract attention and sell books. There is just no way he believes ROI is not important.

    If you read his book CrushIT, he’ll know that he’s been an entrepeneur all his life. Starting as a kid selling baseball cards to his friends, than at baseball cards shows as a teenager, to helping grow (by double digits) his father’s wine business, then to, and now as an angel investor … his is a business man. Add to that, at his agency, VaynerMedia, he has clients like the NY Jets, there is absolutely no way he is not answering the ROI for real.

    But, just maybe, if he isn’t explaining ROI and is as successful as he is, maybe we are the one’s that are wrong. I highly doubt that though. I am sticking with it being an act.


  • Hello Mark! Thanks for your rant. I very much enjoyed it, and will be taking a look at some metrics right after this comment. 😉 I think you make a valid point that from a business perspective measuring is imperative. I also want to note that for social media gurus, specialists, bloggers, etc, measuring is important because you have to know what’s working for your audience and what isn’t. That will make a difference when you have to show results to your boss too.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Nothing more to add to that! Great comment Shonali!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Agree. One of the greatest enigmas of the social web is that some of the top vioces on social media marekting have never really had a marketing job. That doesn’t help. Thanks Srini!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks Aaron!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    if you can;t show value, you will go away. And you shold go away : ) Thanks for taking the time to comment, Rick.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Welcome to the Church of Perpetual Measurement : )

    This does seem like common sense and I don;t know why the conversation even persists.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    There is another explanation I think. As a business person, you develop a “sense” about what is working. It happens for me too. I don’t have measurement about how much I tweet or the impact of individual blog posts or whatever. I don’t have the resources or time for that. But over a period of time you can sense what works, even without measurement. I can pretty much predict which blog posts will really roll even before anybody reads them. You just get good at it. This is why individuals and small businesses may have an advantage on the social web. They can sense and react and optimize their presence better than a company where people are several steps removed — whcih is why companies MUST measure. There is no organizational “sense.” Only individuals. Undoubtedly Gary’s sense is very well refined. He probably doesn’t need to measure — for him it is purely instinctive — somewhat for me too. That’s my theory!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Absolutely. Any my audience “votes” every day, believe me!! They let me know what they think and I’m grateful for it! Thanks, Meredith.

  • Mark W Schaefer


  • Great post Mark.

    Business owners are also constantly assessing the opportunity cost of being in social media. In other words, “what else could I do with that $102,00 – and what is the ROI of those other things?” PPC, SEO, E-mail, Product Development, Salesperson, a new web site… the list is endless. The minute you stop tracking your (or your department’s) worth to the business, you’re at risk of becoming displaced by another idea or another department who does it better.

  • Mark you know I’m with you on this 110%. But the vary fact the we (I guess you) even have to write a post like this is somewhat alarming. I’ve been thinking about writing a paper on how human cognition errors have created and perpetuated the social media bubble. This nonsense has gone on for too long.

  • I guess I missed out on what Gary V said, but I like you’re assessment here. I think the distinction is big corporations versus individuals and small businesses. You and I know what moves the needle for our own businesses without having to spend a ton of time with excel spreadsheets. In a large corporation, “sense” won’t cut it. There’s a distinction there.

    I think that is the benefit of small businesses is that they are more nimble and can often move quicker to take advantage of opportunities (given they have the staff time to pull it off). As Margie so aptly said, for the small business folks, it’s all about time investment. And yes, time IS money! 🙂

  • Just checked out the post – a great round up of resources, Jenn! Loved it!

  • Dude, I know what/whom you’re talking about, and while I believe there is more to those statements when given time to explain, I do ultimately agree with you. I mean, I’m an analyst at heart, and I can do fancy graphs, collect a whole bunch of data, and blow smoke to keep myself in a job for longer than people that can’t do that as a result, but when the squeeze comes, very critical people will see through all of that and say, “So, while this is all very interesting, you can’t really tell us what to do with this information, right?” “Well, um, I guess, er…” “You’re fired. This is not positively affecting the bottom line.”

    Probably one of the main reasons that I try my darndest to make sure that the information I provide my clients somehow moves forward decision making. I want them to be happy. I want them to do better. And, when the squeeze comes, I want to be able to show that my work (some search, mostly social) actually makes a difference.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Darwin in action. Protect your flanks! : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    The whole social web is run by myths created by the people who were there first. Strangest thing. There is just so little critical thinking around these parts. I will say it is getting better than a few years ago. As SM mainstreams, businesses are asking the right questions, at least it looks that way to me. Thanks Brandon!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    That is a brilliant strategy. Carpe data. : )

  • Anonymous

    Well said. I could not agree more.

  • Thanks Laura, that’s so nice of you!

  • Hear! Hear!

    My first job out of college was at a big city newspaper and within my first week the union called a meeting to announce coming buyouts and layoffs. Since social media is so young, many of the people working in it are used to working in companies that are growing fast rather than shrinking. That’s a nice feeling, but economies swing.

    A reporter I used to work with gave me great advice: Save your articles, pick out the best ones, note their placement, the clip at which they were written and the kind of response they provoked from readers. When you get called in for a performance review, you better be sure you have a thick case made for your position and work.

    Call me ignorant, but I think if you can pull up your social media performance by going to a free website and typing in your Twitter handle, you’re probably not getting a lot of depth. Right now measurement is limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be on the forefront of it. Hell, you might even get props for the metrics you developed in the process.

    Great post, Mark.


  • Great post Mark. As a matter of fact I just finished editing a video I’m doing on this specific topic. Measuring your Social Media. Regardless of your campaign, approach, goals you need to measure. Some people think higher numbers mean higher conversions while others want quality over quantity…dosen’t matter. You still have to measure.

    As a matter of fact because we were able to measure and follow hard data with one client we were able to give them huge growth and positive returns on their campaign. Here is the post including screen shots 😉

    PS I really love this line “You MUST keep measuring, assessing, adjusting, improving. Never get caught with your stats down.” lol

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  • Carpe DATA?!? Oh, Mark, I am SO stealing that one for a future blog post title 😉 Thanks for the rant/post. As usual, it got me thinking about being strategic with my time (which is money).

  • You already preached a thought provoking sermon that made us all pause and look at our SM actions. All that’s left is to pick up a good offering! HA! How about you share with us the traffic this rant stirs up – let’s “pants on the ground” a whole new meaning and make the “Never get caught with your stats down” message viral – Jay did describe it as “delicious” !

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Or, if you’re in the fishing industry, it would be Carpe Carp.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I do believe that is the first time the word “delicious” has been used in association with me. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I suppose it is better than saying I am lemon-fresh or packed with scrubbing bubbles. I’ll take it.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Yes, I am all for covering you hiney too. That is the subject of my next book, The Tao of Tushie.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You know I really had corporate work in mind when I wrote this but a personal social media portfolio is not such a bad idea. Like a flip book of your greatest hits, biggest RT, etc. Ok, will somebody go invent that? Thanks.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You should interview me on your video since I’m kind of into this subject : ) I will behave myself mostly.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Well stated. Small businesses can really rock the social web.

  • Well said, Mark. I think that some people mistakenly believe that just because something can’t be directly tied to a specific piece of financial data then there is nothing to measure. But, that really couldn’t be further from the truth, could it? Focusing purely on sales and revenue, overlooks some potentially valuable alternative ROI measurements.

    The data that leads directly to financial information is the easy stuff. But, when it comes time to start measuring the indirect ROI, people get lazy and decide to ask about the ROI of your pants. But, to me, that’s when it gets interesting. That’s when you have to put on your “big boy” pants (or hat, in my case, I suppose) and settle in to do some real investigating.

    Yes, you can measure the ROI of a successfully completed customer service ticket on Twitter, for example. Does the volume of tweets handled help save the cost of installing additional phone lines? Have you tracked your customer satisfaction numbers to see how often a successful completion leads to a repeat sale? Does your Twitter customer service program generate media stories about the company? Do those stories lead to spikes in website visits? Do those visits generate direct sales? etc., etc.

    It need not be a large project like a customer service department, either. Did your Twitter activity (or LinkedIn or Facebook, etc.) generate a new business connection? What did that business connection help you do? Tell it.

    Yes, there are plenty of intangibles within social media (as with television, radio, op-ed columns, billboards, and logo-emblazoned beer can holders), but, in theory, we’re still measuring toward some goal and even the intangibles can be recorded and observed. How are we using social media (or beer koozies) to get closer to the goal line?

    At Social Slam last week, I had a palm-to-forehead moment when Brian Winter reminded us that its not enough to measure, we must also report regularly. Even when we do measure, we tend to sit on the reports until someone asks for them. Why? I suspect we’re insecure about it, or we don’t think anyone cares.

    I’m currently building report templates to help me adequately explain our own internal data at our staff meetings. Will some of the numbers show failure? Yes. But, there are some surprising successes, too. And hiding the failures doesn’t give us an opportunity to learn from what we’ve measured and to readjust our course. Failing to measure, simply means we’ll fail to know if we’ve failed at all.

    So, this just became a follow-up blog post for me to write tonight. Thanks for the inspiration, Mark.

  • Definitely with you on this one. I think that some companies should look at investing in a little training for the employees they have, like that front desk person that is reading books all the time (assuming that there is someone like that in their office). That way they can do social media while doing other tasks. I would have loved to had the responsibility of monitoring a Twitter account during some of my receptionist days as opposed to doing not much else while waiting for a phone call or someone else to need me.

  • So yesterday I published a post basically saying that social media marketing (like all marketing) is unquantifiable. And yet, I totally agree with you, and I’ll tell you why.

    Having quantifiable info is good. Accounting for variables is good. Having charts showing stats is all good. But it shouldn’t drive the decision making process.

    Thats not to say that it shouldnt be affected by it. There is a golden middle. Numbers should be the engine. People should drive the buss.

    That is, if we can agree that social in social media means social responsibility to a fellow human. On the other hand, if we agree that social in social media means another avenue to be exploited then by all means. Exploit.

    Btw…all this ROI vs Screw ROI talk is steeped in self deception. People like Gary Vee (and myself for that matter) hate working with complex models. We are right brainers. We are driven by emotional factors.

    Whilst people like yourself and my partner in crime Dan Cristo, are exact opposite. You love numbers. You love charts. So you will naturally gravitate towards the worldview that is seen through those charts and figures.

    Neither is right or wrong. Both just are. In fact, I find that part of the secret sauce thats making Triberr so popular is my emotionally-driven worldview and Dan’s distinctly numbers-centric wordview. I wouldnt have it any other way 🙂

    On an unrelated note, what are your plans for the second edition update to Tao of Twitter? How many pages will be dedicated to Triberr? 🙂

  • Wow, great post! Couldn’t agree more. I would add that it is the widespread dismissal of ROI in SM that actually confirms that we are in a bubble. Isn’t a mass dismissal of the rational bases for an investment one of the hallmarks of all bubbles? Stratospheric P/E ratios for Internet stocks were dismissed in 1998 with “the old rules don’t apply.” Unsustainable year-over-year increases in housing prices were dismissed in 2006 with “the old rules don’t apply.” And the lack of demonstrable returns for social media investments are dismissed in 2011 with, you guessed it, “the old rules don’t apply.” It’s the same story, just a different setting.

  • Nice rant Mark and smart comments. I too liked the ‘stats down’ line, very clever. What’s the ROI on the phone, the website, the cushy chairs and nice desk in the boss’s office? May not be able to ‘measure’ that ROI, but trust me there is one; everything has a function, a job to do and is part of running a business. Except maybe that Bose stereo expensed for the CEO (true story).

    “Social media is NOT FREE.” Say it loud and proud. Anything worth doing, is worth doing well. Meaning paying attention, studying and measuring (not my strong suit, but thanks to the likes of Shonali and Jenn, working on it), learning and adapting to make it work with the overall business goals. Basic business sense, alas not always common. FWIW.

  • This is true even in the military. When the economy is down enlistments go up. Then the process becomes more selective on who they may let in. Over the last few years they Navy has began to evaluate all enlisted up to the rank of E7. If your career field is over-manned its move to a new job or get out. Or sometimes they may offer early retiring packages.

    Thankful I’m close to the end of my career so I’m not effected, but there still a little more job security in the service than in civilian life. On the other hand at least you had the advantage of being able to show your worth. In the military sometimes it just comes down to numbers.

  • This ROI vs Screw ROI is a lot like the discussion we had. It takes both quantifiable data AND the human factor to drive things forward.

    I think HUGE part of BlogCastFM success is the fact that you provide the human factor whilst Sid is a numbers-focused kind of guy. Dan and I have the same dynamic at Triberr. Who knew diversity would work? Oh wait..the evolution did..nevermind lol

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  • Very nicely put!

    Incidentally, I’m in the middle of performing a numbers game for one of my clients. Fortunately for me, I have a business management background and know how to handle numbers. Still, I’m feeling the pressure and I really know the feeling of “waking up unemployed” because this client is feeling a very strong effect of the recent economic downturn right now.

    I hope they like what I’m going to tell them.

  • I agree! But opposed to small businesses not measuring, larger organisations appear to measure everything and do nothing.

    Some of my clients are measuring a lot, however they don’t really make use of that data. They even invest heavily in monitoring solutions, but IMHO without actionable insights derived from sound analysis, all data is useless. Perhaps I should extend my service portfolio with an analysis component.

  • Fascinating Reiner. I really think you have to have an actionable plan in place if you’re measuring. Otherwise you drown in data. Yes, extend your services!!! Sounds ideal.

  • I would like to read that paper!

  • Thank you!

    Given that all these data collection services for web and social data have API, I’m imagining this being a simple no-frills “data-to-actionable-insights” web service. A la “Connect your accounts and we’ll point you in the right direction – no training needed.” I think I need to talk to my Python developers about it.

  • Dandrews

    Mark, an interesting perspective as always. Whether you work for a large corporation and need to justify your existance or you are a marketing consultant having to do the same to your client, you always need to be absolutely sure that you are adding value. I have to say, I am pushing Linkedin with all my clients after becoming resolved that it’s a very powerful tool. Twitter, not yet….We are still trying to perfect best practices and find the right formula. Your book has helped to move us in the right direction. Getting back to your post, I believe, as do you, that you never do something “just to do it.” That always leads to trouble.

  • Love this post and the comments. All so very, very true. It’s really nice to see people coming around to this kind of thinking. Some would (will) say that it’s just a bunch of “bean counters” getting in the way of progress again, but in reality it will drive progress and take SM to the next level. Once people/companies really start searching for why this SM matters (and how to protect it from imploding) they’ll uncover even more value and potential which will increase it’s use in places we’ve not even thought of.

  • Funny, as I was reading this I was also thinking — “This is a blog post!” WIll be great to see you get in the game! I also enjoyed Brian’s talk immensely. So practical. And although it was not planned this way at all, he was basically taking my classroom lecture and applying it to the real world. I can;t wait to get ahold of the video and see if I can integrate it into my lesson. Thanks for the superb comment, Shane!

  • Great insight Kristi. I actually love that idea. Lots of potential isn;t there? Thanks!

  • There’s a reason that so many high-level marketing communications jobs disappeared during this downturn: because companies don’t see the ROI of their efforts. My long-time rant has been about the fact that “communications is a core business function,” and comms pros need to understand that and execute on that–or be expendable.

    I love, Mark, how you costed out the cost of “free” so brilliantly. I may sometimes be warm and fuzzy in my approach, but my goals are all bottom-line business.

  • I’m with you Mark, and I don’t see this as a rant but rather a straight forward look at how business is done. Whether a large corporation or an independent entrepreneur there must be a return for an activity, otherwise it’s time and money wasted. To know that you need metrics of some sort.

    My main metrics on the use of social media include:

    1. Increase in brand recognition
    2. Visitors to my site from the content I syndicate via social media channels
    3. Number of new leads (direct or indirect)
    4. Increase in potential reach (of my message)

    Those can absolutely be measured and in my opinion are just the starting point.

  • I’m with you Mark, and I don’t see this as a rant but rather a straight forward look at how business is done. Whether a large corporation or an independent entrepreneur there must be a return for an activity, otherwise it’s time and money wasted. To know that you need metrics of some sort.

    My main metrics on the use of social media include:

    1. Increase in brand recognition
    2. Visitors to my site from the content I syndicate via social media channels
    3. Number of new leads (direct or indirect)
    4. Increase in potential reach (of my message)

    Those can absolutely be measured and in my opinion are just the starting point.

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  • I believe that there always be business/commerce, products and services that people will want and the need to find these things as well as ‘advertise’ them with which ever technology one uses (Outbound or Inbound).
    This is where I part company with Inbound Marketing gurus, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, who recommend that companies hire people for marketing who are ‘digital citizens’ rather than Outbound Marketing experts, in other words, people of my generation.
    So rather than be an out-of-date marketing expert, I am both an Outbound as well as Inbound Marketing consultant who can handle any type of advertising work.
    When ‘the bubble bursts’, many social media venues will survive and many won’t. Bubbles come and go. There were those who thought the car would not replace the horse drawn carriage. Others who thought man could not fly. Just as the stock marketing has it ups and downs (like a roller coaster), it has survived so far, too.
    So when the marketing technology shifts again (as it is now transitioning from Outbound to Inbound), I will learn that, too, if I live long enough to experience it. Like I said, bubbles come and go but the core fabric of a technological shift does survive. It becomes part of the mainstream of life that people do not even think about as they go about using it in their daily lives.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Actually my instinct my first instinct is emotional. I usually lead with my heart. But when I got into the corporate world I had a valuable mentor coach me to realize it doesn’t matter what I think or “feel” is right or good or cool. It has to be connected to data, at least at some level. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for instinct or wisdom of experience. Certainly there is. But the fact is, passion alone won’t take you very far in a company. At the end of the day there has to be some results. And learning to quantify what I was doing was a very valuable lesson. I have not had time to read your post carefully yet but I will check it out and probably disagree like crazy : ) Thanks, Dino!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for this valuable perspective and voice of reason! I was in the middle of the dotcom bubble too but the area I was working in — quietly, methodically — was focused on delivering measurable value so we survived! Problem is, today’s young entrepreneurs didn;t go through that. The lesson is already lost. We’re back to page views in many cases!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You and I are aligned on this one Davina and I’m not even going to make a funny comment about it : ) Thanks for sharing your wisdom today!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Sadly, it’s that way in business too. And there is no appeal process either. I remember once one of my friends was being laid off. I couldn;t believe it. They had done everything right — stayed sharp, re-invented themselves, worked hard … and yet was cut when the budget axe fell. I couldn;t believe we were letting this talented person go and actually appealed to the president of the company. He reviewed the situation but at the end of the day it was all about numbers. Thanks, Alvin!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I truly believe in the business benefits of Twitter and am glad The Tao of Twitter has helped. Folks seem to love the book. Maybe to really help your clients, buy them a book? In fact, your community probably needs help too, if not your city. In fact, I just read that Pennsylvania is one of the lowest Twiiter adoption states. Wouldn’t it be a marvelous community service for you to buy a copy for every citizen of the state? It would almost be like a charitable effort : )

  • Mark W Schaefer

    One of the startling lessons from SXSW is how few start-ups have a plan, let alone a marketing strategy. Amazing, really. Everyone has an idea and they just expect it to catch fire. In some rare cases that happens, i.e. Twitter but if you want to be in “business” you should be prepared to hink like a “business.” Thanks Steve!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Hurray for you. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to share your thoughts, Daria. I appreciate it!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    It would be interesting to know more about your indicators for brand recognition. A learnign opportunity! Thanks, Robert!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    The key for me is that the technology shifts, but people are still people. The motivations are the same and will be the same. So if you know consumer behavior and marekting fundamentals, there is no reason you can’t pick up the new ideas which seem to be changing almost daily! Thanks!

  • Amen Mark, Amen.

    Too many people are out there saying they can’t measure – either they are unrealistic or they don’t have to justify anything or answer to anyone aside from themselves.

    Then there are the outliers who are only able to get away with saying that they measure the ROI of their mother because they have leveraged their celebrity status where just about anything they do results in cash being thrown at them, which means they don’t really have to be disciplined about what they are doing, nor do they have to justify to their stakeholders why they are doing it or how it impacts the bottom line. If you took away their celebrity status cash cow, they’d be barking the same reality based story as the rest of us who have worked in the “show me the numbers or I show you the door” business environment (which is just about any business, large or small, but especially corporate institutions).

    Discounting the whiners, naive or ignorant of their situation, and people who do know but don’t ever care to change their situation, even the people who are broke and hungry for change measure their numbers and justify their daily actions when they go home and answer to their spouse/children (what did you do to put food on the table today? what are we doing to make sure we are never this broke again?).

    Even taken out of a social media context, people need to be cognizant of what they are bringing to the table, and that means measuring and reporting the changes in deliverables over time (ie: the waiter who can demonstrate that he has upsold an additional $4,000 worth of drinks and other food items this quarter compared to his ability last quarter; the customer service rep who can show that she has saved the company $10,000 in revenue that would have been lost by customers who were angry and intended to cancel but she put out the fire and convinced them to stay; or the secretary/assistant who can demonstrate that she saves her boss an immense amount of time by handing certain details and allowing Mrs Exec to focus; or the install technician that is able to demonstrate that he has been able to reduce new customer install times 50% over the past year by doing such and such, which has increased his capacity and profitability; etc).

  • I hear ya.. and like the funny comments. 🙂

  • but page views don’t pay your salary.

    Tracking that number is a start, but like Mark said, you need to be able to tie that a business objective, which requires tracking a lot of other things also (and note that correlation does not equal causation). How many sales inquiries did you get as a result of that increase in Twitter activity or the increase in blog traffic? How many closed sales did those generate? How many interview requests did you get as a result of the activity? etc.

    If your twitter presence isn’t generating anything that directly or indirectly pays your salary, then you are wasting your time and your employer’s money, which is why he asked, rightfully. So the key is to find ways to quantify and qualify that your Twitter presence is impacting (positively) his ability to pay you (or your ability to pay yourself if you are self employed) – unfortunately, page views alone don’t do that (unless you are a news site, in which case then you would compare page views to ad revenue and how your twitter activity impacted page views which impacted ad revenue which impacted your salary).

  • You just gave away that your entire argument is an excuse because you “hate working with complex models.”

    Do you put emotions in your bank account or numbers? Do emotions pay your salary, or do numbers?

    Look at your friend who is about to be laid off and is pleading to their boss to save their job. They use an emotional tactic, but the boss says “prove your case”, whereupon the results, the numbers are brought out about how whatever it is that they do benefits the company and thus should save their job from the chopping block. Emotionally pleading “but I have kids!” may buy them some time before being laid off, but unless they can show the data driven value of what they are delivering, they’ll eventually be laid off. Results matter.

    Emotions may influence results, but those emotions are not the currency, results are.

  • Mark, the scary part quite honestly for most folks, especially after looking at virtually ANY case study, is that a good chunk of the impact ISN’T quantifiable.
    Sure you can survey customers to get a favorability measure, but how do you know the impact of say a customer complaint unanswered on Twitter?
    Ticking customers off ala Chrysler etc?

    You can have all the clickthroughs in the world etc but if the customer service angle on this is missing- it may not mean much

  • I had the opportunity to briefly work with a team developing a niche social networking site late last year. The concept was brilliant, and the research conducted prior to the BETA launch was impressive. However, when we decided that the idea was worth pursuing VC funds in order to promote and grow the site, the fact that the partners couldn’t quantify to any potential investor expected ROI became abundantly clear to me. They had a wonderful idea for a hobby website, yet hadn’t the slightest clue how to run it as a business. Upon that realization, I hung up my proverbial cleats (at least for that project).

    Content may be king for blogs, but RESULTS still reign supreme in the world of business.

    Great post…er… I mean rant, Mark!!

  • This is a superb comment Bruce and it certainly seems like we are coming from the same background!

    I also like that “upsell” analogy. One of the best images around measurement came from my friend Jamie Wallace. She said social media measurement is like a bartender. You can measure what they sell and upsell — and you should — but you can’t measure the fact that the reason people are there in the first place is the “brand” of the bartender. Don;t overlook the qualitative measures.

    I’m so grateful for the lesson you served up today Bruce! Thanks!

  • Wow great point!! Although I am probably best known for social media commentary, most of my business is not necessarily social — it’s marketing strategy, which may or may not be social, depending on the company and their readiness. The first stage of readiness is just what you say — do you have your ducks in a row? Are they delivering a great product and keeping people happy? If not, you have to clean up your act first before you turn on the water! This is a good insight — thanks Todd!

  • Hey Bruce,

    Thank you for engaging. I would only ask that you answer the following question to yourself.

    Did you make your argument with numbers or emotion?

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  • A good lesson! It’s easy to have a good idea. It’s difficult to have a unique idea and execute on it!

  • It’s funny because I think we’ve all been breathing the same air lately. I had a fairly similar rant that I want to share with you. You might find that it’s just my way of self promoting and it’s hard not to be totally guilty of that. Here’s the link: .

    Bottom line is I agree with you wholeheartedly. SM is a long term strategy of brand building that IS expensive. There are benefits but you can’t throw out the price tag associated with it just because everyone else is doing it.

    Great post Mark. Thanks.

  • I guess what also needs to be taken into consideration is how Social Media Management fits in with the overall Marketing (etc) Strategy. Perhaps the Social Media effort aren’t suppose to be linked directly with sales but is there to build relationships. If you look at other concepts such as Relationship Marketing or even aspects of Customer Relationship Management their prime focus is not sales but enhancing relationships with potentially profitable customers.

    My issue with a lot of current Social Media done by companies is this lack of a ‘goal’. They have been told they need to do social media so they set up an account and tweet and post random things without any thought as to who they want to target and what they are trying to achieve.

    I agree that Social Media is currently a ‘buzz’ word but I think the potential for it to be a strategically and financially viable option is there if it is established from the outset what it’s purpose is. I think over time this will happen. At the end of the day it is just another communication channel, a channel a lot of customers are now using – it makes sense to be there as long as you can show it is helping you to achieve your goals.

  • THIS close to Mother’s Day, you take on the ROI of MOM!? Are you heartless?

    Kidding – great post. Coincidentally, I wrote a blog post this week about how studying your analytics can keep you a bit in the past, and folks have been asking if I don’t like metrics. Au contraire, I love them, but they are a tool to be used with other things, like understanding what’s really going on and your gut, IMHO. The surprising part of social media is how willing we are to say we don’t know how to measure it. The scary part is I’m not convinced we’ve nailed measuring any part of marketing. How is it ok to get a 2% return on direct mail? I’ve never understood that.

    Nice rant and wins my vote for best use of the phrase “your pants.” 🙂

  • Mark W Schaefer

    All self-promotion welcome. We’re all in this together.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I was following you until the part about relationship marketing not being about sales. Presumably the relationships are with customers? : )

    This is really a great comment though and it’s great top see you back in the comment section Louise!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Cool Jeannie. Clos second – “I am the mayor of my pants.”

    And yes I do keep metrics on my mom much to her dismay. : )

    For all the {grow} readers, here is a link to the cool post Jeannie mentioned:

  • Thought that by now the we can’t measure it crowd has disappeared. Have been reading hundreds of tweets and posts mentioning countless examples and case studies of positive social media ROI. The overall business value which is what it’s about anyway, is being proven in a better on a daily basis. In other words the social web is not a bubble and will not burst. What will burst, is the bubble the self appointed gurus, ninjas or whatever they call themelves folks are living in.

  • =) I guess my point with relationship marketing not being a part of sales was more the order of events in relationship marketing is often relationship marketing = strong relationships (maybe loyalty) = sales. Similar to SM it’s more about building relationships in order to encourage sales rather then sales being the immediate goal. SM is almost a poor imitation of practices like relationship marketing but instead of targeting valuable customers and building relationships they spread themselves thinly over every man and his dog. Anyway I digress from the article topic and since I do work in Social Media I am perhaps putting myself out a job =p

  • Ha! Thanks Louise!

  • Actually I agree with you. Probably not the best headline. I struggle with headlines. Sometimes you just have to stop thinking and publish. But I think you get my point.

    I am really weary of the half-cocked meaurement posts out there. It’s not rocket science but now I see why the failure rate of new businesses is so high. Thanks for the comment,

  • Mark is right: when push comes to shove (and it always does) all of us need to be able to demonstrate what value we bring to the party.

    Whatever your metrics happen to be, remember that the metric for the finance people will be how much the company has to shrink in order to continue. They can’t afford to be sentimental, nor can they afford to indulge in things that may or may not pay out handsomely in the future.

    IMHO, the biggest challenge for anyone in digital or social is that (unless you’re in e-commerce or DM) your efforts will be one of many and it will be hard to sort out exactly what you contributed. For big brand marketers, digital (including social) is typically around 10% of the total spend. How much quantifiable impact will an investment of $200,000 have on results when a marketer is spending $200 million? If we’re honest about it, we just don’t know.

    Here’s my advice: when your company decides it wants to cut heads, spare them the heated rhetoric about social being the future and other media being dead. Look top management in the eye like a grownup and tell them “here’s what we do know works, and here’s what we don’t know.” Ask them how how you can help.

    When times get tough, management looks around for clear-sighted partners. It can’t afford blind ideologues.

  • Great points Mark, especially the ROI of social media…existence in 5 years. Totally agree.

  • Enjoyed the read. Reminds me of the IT bubble when people were getting hired for large salaries, and job hopping to maximize those salaries, just because they had a heartbeat! How different is it from now where you can perhaps know a few social media buzz words and “snow” a recruiter in an interview?

  • Thanks to Paul Flanigan for reposting this, as I missed it–and I love it!

    I am not naturally a numbers person. But I am naturally very curious. I want to know why people do what they do…what messages work; where they engage and when and how they may ultimately convert loyalty to my brand. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the same corporate era you did Mark, (I had shoulder pads in my suits, little bow ties and a perm…you probably had to worry about none of that!). And, I worked in the PR department, which no one expected you to measure, they just wanted it to make people feel good. However, when I brought numbers (on transparencies!) to those board rooms you described–numbers like brand impressions, copy inches (see–I’m old!), event attendees who brought offers into locations, etc.–suddenly, the bubbly blond girl from pr might be onto something.

    I think social media is similar. Part of it will always be immeasurable–people don’t know why they like you, and it might have something to do with what they read in a blog post or another digital channel, but they just like you. That’s not bad. But suggesting that I would spend two hours every morning engaged in the business of digital communication without expecting a return on my investment makes me look like a bit of a business dork. I am worth way more to my business than the 102K employee, and my time is worth too much to invest in something I can’t track.

    Quite frankly, I could have put together an amazing analysis of my mother’s ROI. The returns for her home, her husband’s business, her church, her community…infact they all continue to manifest themselves today, so her numbers continue to grow in spite of the fact that she passed away 10 years ago. I wish I would have thought to demonstrate the numbers to her while she was living. We all need to know that we do, indeed, measure up in quantitative ways as well as incredibly powerful emotional ones.

  • Hey there mate,

    You know I’m singing from the same hymn sheet (and yes, the “ROI of your mother” was a classic, wasn’t it?). 😉

    I always look at folks who say you can’t measure social media and think, “Are you effin’ serious? And people employ you?!?”

    Here’s a question for these folks – when you’re offered a new job, do you weigh the pros and cons and go for the one that gives the biggest return (monetary or otherwise)? You do? Well guess what – THAT’s measurement. So the difference in measuring social media is what, exactly?

    Rant on, mate. 🙂

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  • Anonymous

    BRAVO!  I don’t think Social Media will leave us anymore than the internet will… and I rail against anyone calling themselves a “Social Media Expert;”  It changes so quickly it’s like wrestling an octopus.  There are no experts, only students.

    But Social Media is a TACTIC. A PART of a comprehensive marketing/pr plan.  It cannot operate as a silo, and is a dangerous time vacuum if not controlled.

    An old mentor of mine always said: If you’re not making it, or you’re not selling it, you’re expendable. When the sh*t hits the fan in a company, you have to prove your worth.  “Engagement” is worthless if you can’t prove it leads to sales.

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  • Great topic! I recently opened up this question to my master mind group and we came up with a number of reasons for why some Marketers have a hard time understanding ROI:

    1- Not knowing how to measure or what metrics really mean
    2- Not realizing that some times you have to measure ROI in a stepwise fashion
    3- Not setting up a baseline from the beginning

    I don’t buy the marketing experience argument, because I don’t come from a marketing background but can’t imagine not measuring! Mind you, I did come from a scientific background where measurement is part of the process.  So, I would say the requirement is not a marketing experience, but an analytical experience.

    Aside from people who don’t measure, there are people who are measuring incorrectly through bad science, which is even more destructive than not measuring at all.

    I’m going to finish by saying that whenever sometime tells you that social media cannot be measured, hand them  “Social Media ROI” by Olivier Blanchard and ask them to read it.

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