Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 20, 2010 8:45 PM

Killing ROI

How do you measure success? If this were a high school cheer, it would probably end in: "R-O-I!"

Ahh, the elusive ROI is Social Media. If yesterday's Blog post (Social Media Gurus - That Old Chestnut) didn't provoke some thought and commentary, then trying to crack the elusive Social Media ROI will surely get your noodle boiling. Richard Binhammer (from Dell's Social Media team) gave a private presentation yesterday and when one of the audience members asked about how Dell measures the ROI of their Social Media strategy, Binhammer responded that ROI was nothing more than an accounting term and probably has little to no place when it comes to measuring the success of any Social Media marketing initiative.

How would that make your clients, team members and supervisors feel?

Pushing Binhammer's comments further, he also said that if you're looking for the ROI in the campaign, you'll probably spend too much time, budget and energy just trying to figure out what your definition of ROI is, and concluded by saying that he doesn't think about ROI, rather he looks at the overall business objectives and if Social Media can help him meet those objectives, then that is what is ultimately the most important thing.

Let's repeat: forget the ROI and look at the business objectives.

In looking at business through this prism, Dell has changed the way they do business and - in doing so - they have made lots of money by being engaged and using everything Social Media that is under the sun. In a more primal way, they're focused on using Social Media to meet practical business objectives and not looking at the overall ROI. In thinking about Social Media and how it can help in overall business objectives, it does make things a lot easier to swallow.

Take a practical approach to this scenario...

  • Scenario 1 - Your company is having a customer service issue and is trying to figure out the best way to nip it in the bud. Someone in your department recommends a Social Media strategy, but the c-suite would like to know the ROI of using this approach before getting started.
  • Scenario 2 - Your company is having a customer service issue and is trying to figure out the best way to nip it in the bud. Someone in your department recommends a Social Media strategy because if the business objective is to correct the current course and to inform consumers about this scenario, Social Media is a great way to create, communicate and engage with people in a way that will also make the information easily findable and organic in terms of how it evolves. The c-suite becomes silent.

Both scenarios are similar/same.

Binhammer is on to something (he usually is). Thinking about business objectives instead of ROI makes the whole strategy that much workable and doable. In the end, instead of looking for the ROI in Social Media, maybe the smarter thing to do is to focus on what the business objectives are, and then figure out if Social Media is an effective means (from both a strategic and budgetary point of view) to help you and your business accomplish your goals.

Or, is this too much of an over-simplification? 

By Mitch Joel


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