Social Media Marketing: Return of Investment or Return of ObjectiveMarketing and communication departments are getting their hands dirty with social media. The pressure to justify and measure the advantages of social media marketing is beginning to rise. Marketers often hear upper management ask that one question: What is the ROI of social media?  But the real question should be what is the return of objective?

Objectives. Objectives. Objectives.

We have seen companies jump into social media marketing because it’s THE THING. It’s not pretty.  But it’s time to start doing social media because it’s effective, not because it’s cool. Your objectives should determine what technologies to use to accomplish your marketing goals, not vice versa.

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My college professor, Dr. John Guiniven, warned his students not to jump the tactics/tools (social media) before determining their specific marketing and communication objectives. We seem to get too excited that social media is a cure-all to our marketing and communication problems. Above is the Forrester’s Four Step Approach to the Social Strategy. It’s a simple yet genius POST acronym that will help get you back on track.

ROI or ROO?

Financial metrics are just one way to evaluate social marketing programs. Social media can bring a variety of advantages to organizations, both for short and long-term success. To accurately asses the impact of their social media marketing efforts, marketers must align their objectives, metrics, targets, and strategies with a “balanced scorecard“.

Social Media Balance Scorecard

A balance scorecard brings other perspectives into focus, not solely measured on financial metrics.  Dr. Robert S. Kaplan and Dr. David P. Norton’s, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, is a wonderful book that explains that an effective social media marketing balanced scorecard considers metrics from four different perspectives:


  • Financial: Has revenue or profit increased or costs decreased?
  • Digital: Has the company enhanced its owned and earned digital assets?
  • Brand: Have consumer attitudes about the brand improved?
  • Risk Management: Is the organization better prepared to note and respond to attacks or problems that affect reputation?

I recently read an analogy that said direct marketing is like getting the consumer wet by directing a hose and spraying water on him or her; brand marketing is a fog that constantly envelopes the consumer and gets them damp over time. You can measure the water coming out of a hose, but how do you measure fog? To properly assess your social media marketing programs, other perspectives must be accounted for when determining short and long-term success.

Now, think about the potential success when you have a clear understanding of what your company brand is from the beginning. Talk about powerful marketing. I will go a little deeper in branding in a PR stand point in my next post. Until then, take care.

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