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Untraditional Metrics: Navigating Social Media's ROI

Fact: business owners want to take advantage of the widely praised benefits of social media.

Yet without easily tangible (aka fast) results, many also begin to struggle with the time and budget being allocated to engaging on a social network.

Realistic ROI

Unlike other aspects of a business, social media is a breed apart when it comes to traditional methods of measuring ROI. Can it be done? Yes and no. Realistically speaking, traditional methods do not work seamlessly with regards to social media. In addition to a number of variables, virtual community building is relatively new. By trying to measure tangible profit, it's easy to become disappointed.

Before you venture any further in to the world of social media, it is crucial to maintain realistic expectations.

Keep in mind...

  • What works for one may not work for all.

One of the most misleading things about social media is the belief that all one needs to achieve success is a computer, iPhone, and a pulse. As nice as that would be, it doesn't work that way. Knowing your business is a given, but more than that, you need to know your industry and your audience.

  • Social media is about making an impression.

Being a part of a community is the investment. Your return is the opportunity to develop a relationship, ideally one that was not in place before. Becoming involved in what's going on in your industry, providing information, and personal interaction increases your visibility and allows people to get to know your company.

Just because you aren't getting a host of new leads right away does not lessen the value of engagement. You never know who may be reading and watching your Twitter or FaceBook page... and furthermore, you never know who may pass along your name as a referral.

  • Metrics were not designed for social media.

Metrics may work for traditional media, but you cannot forget that social media is a breed unto itself. Throw away what you think you know about measuring success; social media is full of contradictions and variables that make trial and error all but inevitable.

  • Social media is a social channel, first; business tool, second.

Listen to the conversation; engage with the community. That's the whole point. Although FaceBook, Twitter and others are popular amongst businesses, these sites were not meant to be a business tool. When trying to measure success, remembering this is a critical piece of the puzzle.

Bottom line...

Learn about social media and how it works before you attempt to define what it's going to do for you. It's not a traditional media platform and it's important not to pretend it is. By ditching the pre-fabricated box of what you think it should be, you have the freedom to truly make the most of the unique tool at hand.


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