Calculating YOUR Social Media ROI

Inspiration for blog posts comes from such odd places; I glommed on to this one as it rolled off my tongue on a call. I told a colleague Twitter had saved me from a slow death in a dark office. My love of Twitter is no secret:

A global community of intellectuals

  • New friends with whom to banter and pose odd questions

Information and collections of learning for my professional development

A network of experts on chats, like #SBT10 with whom to ask basic questions without fear and so much more.

My colleague then said, “You be careful, Jayme. I hope you’re making money as a result?” And, I said, “Nope, I haven’t asked. ROI on Twitter isn’t always about money.”

That’s when I realized the nugget for this post. How do you define your social media ROI? Forrester  is selling a report with nearly the exact same title. (Promise, I didn’t know it until seeing the direct e-mail in my box after I wrote my headline and post.)

ROI comes in various shapes and sizes.

My friend Mark W. Schaefer who writes the amazingly successful {grow} blog with a hyper-engaged community states it wisely, “There are many business benefits that come from Twitter. It could be information, competitive intelligence, a new supplier or partner, a deal, a link, or yes, even a sales lead.” (I encourage your perusal of this link to Mark’s blog regarding his post today about the power of Twitter consumers.)

Defining ROI is usually akin to financials i.e. revenue and profit. For me, social media (Twitter and blogging) have always been defined as brand development and thought leadership. One would argue these are metrics… exactly…because return on investment is about measurement via metrics that may not always directly correlate with the bottom line and profitability. 

If you’re a SMB (small-to-medium business), determining how social media influences your business is easier to ascertain, and you can create your own value-based metrics that align directly to your business model and culture.  

How about these as examples:

  • A re-tweet 40 times of a blog post announcing a product or service leads to five inquiries on your Web site. (That’s ROI.)
  • A new person you met on Twitter becomes your next employee because you developed rapport, engaged in conversation over time, and took a chance on hiring. You saved money with no job listings, no recruiters, and communicated directly with the candidate. (That’s ROI.)
  • A blog post written by someone at the company garnered a call by a respected partner in your vertical market interested in collaborating on an upcoming project. (That’s ROI.)

I may’ve backed myself into somewhat of a corner trying to define ROI via measurement values versus dollars, but who are we to tie a bow around a box and define it traditionally? Social media has spawned out-of-the-box thinking and so, too, should it pave the way for  creative definitions of ROI suited to your business.

However, when you’re not the boss, perhaps it’s safer to get out the box with the pretty ribbon?

10 comments
image consultants
image consultants

This is very nice and informative article.The author is very good.I really found the good stuff here.
image consultants

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Jayme, Great posts and comments. I'll apply the "mileage may vary" formula to social media ROI, specifically Twitter success. It's about how much you put into it and how much you get back, how far you want to go. My "metrics:"

- I spend a lot of time on Twitter. I've learned more than I can share in a slew of blog posts, though I try. ROI.
- What I've learned via social media has made me a better, smarter, more efficient and more connected as a professional. ROI.
- I've met and engaged with smart people like yourself, plus clever auto-posting comment bots like that Mark W Schaefer. ;-) ROI.
- I've had a tweet inspire a blog, had the post picked up and RT thousands of times via other networks, adding value to my community. I've written a blog, posted it to a target LinkedIn group and earned a speaking gig. ROI.

It's qualitative value, even if I don't connect with a paying customer via social media, the return on my invest is still well worth it.

Suddenly Jamie
Suddenly Jamie

:) I'll add that to my "posts to write" list.
;)

Suddenly Jamie
Suddenly Jamie

Hey, Jayme!
I like your Real World approach so much better than the complicated equations that some people cook up so they can confuse their audience and feel smarter by making others feel dumb.

I think it only makes sense that the ROI of social media is ... well ... social. The currency in the social world is connections - whether personal, public support of a business or brand, or creating additional connections by sharing someone's content. Those connections can (and do!) lead to traditional, dollars & cents ROI benefits, too; but I think it's important to remember where the "equation" starts - with people connecting to other people. Different ballgame, in my book, than your typical sales funnel. ;)

Mark W Schaefer
Mark W Schaefer

I love the way we play off of each other!! I also cut and paste my response to you as a blog post for next week and our thinking is very complementary.

I will get into this more on Monday (I think that is when it will run but who knows?) but basically I suggest that value sometimes can be better depicted through stories than a bar chart (right, Gregg?). And that's what you are saying here, too.

The value I received by connecting to you through Twitter and the social web is incalculable. We have become friends who support each other in many ways ... and we always will. Just telling that story to a client is more compelling than trying to calculate the value of the relationship in dollars and cents.

Thanks for the great post!

Jayme Soulati
Jayme Soulati

Davina, your additions to the measurables are spot on and add great value. We're all preaching to the choir, aren't we? And, that's what keeps our spark ignited as professionals -- how we feed off and on each other to create new ideas. Thanks for adding your thoughts to the mix.

Jenn Whinnem
Jenn Whinnem

Suddenly Jaime - I laughed at your comment about the equations - only too true! Everything else is bang on.

Jayme - love love this post - my favorite one of yours yet. The benefits of specifically Twitter for me have been 1) knowledge 2) professional connections. I was able to leverage #1 for my current position, and we're currently leveraging that for our clients. Not everything is so tangible as $$.

Jayme Soulati
Jayme Soulati

You are so right, and that is well said, Jamie. We (Jayme/Jamie) must have more than just a name in common, eh?

I just posted a comment elsewhere on this topic, too. Difficult to explaining to those unengaged that the bennies of social media are more than just monetary. Your "currency in social world is connections" is perfect explanation.

I think there's a blog post there one of these days! Thanks for stopping in, Jamie.

Jayme Soulati
Jayme Soulati

Thanks, Mark! I absolutely agree absolutely. Our stars were definitely aligned yesterday as I wrote my entire post and then headed over to {grow} to see what was cookin'. There was your response to my comment that fit so compatibly with this post! There is subconscious brainstorming going on via tweets, posts and all the commentary. Love it. Appreciate your time here!

Jayme Soulati
Jayme Soulati

Jenn, I wonder how we transition this discussion to SMB Collective? The beauty of social media IS its hidden gifts; unfortunately, many a business owner isn't taking time to smell the roses. We'll be revisiting this for sure. Thanks for sharing.

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