Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

Social Media ROI: ROI Doesn’t Stand for Return on Ignorance

My good friend Olivier Blanchard recently released his new book, Social Media ROI, Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. As he was nearing its completion, he asked if I would write the foreword and to be honest, I was flattered. I agreed to do so under one condition, that I get the opportunity to share the foreword with you here. Long story short, here we are. The book is extremely helpful and carries the endorsements of those I also respect including Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, Geoff Livingston, and Kyle Lacy.

ROI Doesn’t Stand for Return on Ignorance

I’m often asked, what’s the ROI of social media? To which I answer, you can’t measure what it is you do not value or know to value.

Sounds simple enough. But, the truth is, determining value is not an easy process. But then again, whoever said using social media effectively in business was easy…is wrong.

As in anything in business, the ability to tie activity to the business values is critical. If we are to commit time, resources, and budget to social networks our investments must be justified. Indeed, social media strategies must prove long-term value and contribution to the bottom line in order to evolve into a pillar of business success. But, how do you measure something when best practices, case studies, and answers in general are elusive? We are struggling to prove the merit of an important ingredient in the future success of business because precedents have yet to be written or tested.

While many companies are already investing in social media, the reality is that most are done without the ability to demonstrate any return on investment. The truth is that you cannot succeed in anything if success is never defined. The good news is that success is definable and attainable. It just takes a little work…well, honestly, a lot of work to tie intended outcomes to the “R” (return) in ROI. And, even though social media, as a platform and series of channels, is inexpensive or free to host a presence, time and resources still carry fixed costs. To that end, if we enhance our presences or apply greater resources, the investment goes up exponentially. It comes down to the old adage, “time is money.”

Everything starts with the end in mind.

Success is not a prescription. There isn’t one way to excel or measure progress. But, that’s the point. We must first design outcomes into the equation. What do we want to accomplish? What’s the return we seek? Are we trying to sell, change, drive, cause, or inspire something specific? Are we reducing customer problems as measured by inbound volume, open tickets, public discourse? Are we trying to shift sentiment to a more positive state that increases referrals as a result?

Success requires definition based on intentions, goals, and mutual value…across the organization from the top down, bottom up, inside out and outside in. Success is defined departmentally and also at the brand level. And, success is tied to desirable actions and outcomes. And, as we’ve already established, it’s impossible to measure the ROI for something if we haven’t first established the R (Return) or the I (Investment). No amount of new acronyms will change this yet we see new terms introduced as if we’ve already given up on defining ROI; Return on Engagement (ROE), Return on Participation (ROP), Return on Listening (ROL), Return on Fluid Listening (ROFL – yes it’s a joke), Return on ignorance (The new ROI). In the end, everything carries cost and effect.

The debate over ROI is only going to gain in importance. But, that’s where we need to go in order to gain the support we need to expand our investment in social media. You’re in good hands though. Olivier Blanchard is indeed one of the few who can help. Here, he has written a comprehensive guide that will help you at every step from planning to program integration to management to measurement.

Thanks to Olivier, you’ll find the answers to your questions and also answers to the questions that you didn’t know to ask.

As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. The success of all things social media is up to you to define, quite literally.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook


___
The New ENGAGE!: If you’re looking to FIND answers in social media and not short cuts, consider either the Deluxe or Paperback edition


___
Get The Conversation Prism:


___

76 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Social Media ROI: ROI Doesn’t Stand for Return on Ignorance”

  1. I just downloaded the book to my kindle and look forward to reading it. Measuring social media ROI is imperative if you start using it within your business. And it’s not always that easy to do!

  2. Setting goals and carrying them out..is the key to success. Nothing will just come to you..people must go get it..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  3. Nice post—you could also add “Risk of Ignoring”

  4. Thank you kindly, Sir. 🙂

  5. I’m reading it and it’s bloody good. Walks you step by step from your computer screen into the board room and never let’s go of your hand.

    Do yourself a favour and buy it.

    Michael

  6. I’m reading it and it’s bloody good. Walks you step by step from your computer screen into the board room and never let’s go of your hand.

    Do yourself a favour and buy it.

    Michael

  7. Facundo says:

    Excellent book. Finished it a couple of weeks ago and it is really helping us shape our new framework. What I found very revealing is the concept of never trying to calculate ROI before the actions but in turn aim for some estimated targets associated to the campaign and only measure the outcomes after those campaigns to contrast them with money figures. Loads of down to earth explanations that help us sell services too. Anyone in this business should read this.

  8. PamMktgNut says:

    Good words Brian. There is so much debate, confusion and yes ignorance when it comes to social media ROI. I presented a session on setting goals & objectives for social media at an event today as part of a local county biz development initiative. It’s painful to listen and I am still amazed when I hear supposed “social media gurus” explain social media in terms of a prescription as a one size fits all. I hate to see ignorant and trusting newbie business leaders fed the fud and nodding their head as they believe it and are ready to go execute exactly as they are told.

    Olivier, can’t wait to pick up the book. Hoping it’s something we can recommend to our clients and audiences as a valuable resource!

  9. Tom Perry says:

    i like it. i’m working at my 2nd social listening company, and i worry about our industry’s lack of progress in demonstrating ROI in terms familiar to our customers. look forward to seeing you at crossroads next week

  10. Companies might measure social media ROI differently. There is really no set way to do it. The most important thing is to go into it with goals in mind and a strategic plan.

  11. 40deuce says:

    Great foreword Brian and I’m looking forward to picking up Olivier’s book when I’m done with all the other readings I have to do.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  12. Dave Gallant says:

    Excellent article. Measuring ROI is becoming critical in the social space. This is probably why one third of all social media marketers want to be able to learn more on how to properly measure ROI (according to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report )

  13. Great Article! ROI Doesn’t Stand For Return on Ignorance! What you said “Success requires definition based on intentions, goals, and mutual value…across the organization from the top down, bottom up, inside out and outside in. Success is defined departmentally and also at the brand level.” I love this! You are so right. Social media can have a negative impact upon one’s brand if not managed correctly. Only through social media can one repair those issues. On a departmental level one can use social media in customer service as well as marketing. I really embrace this concept. You make some great points!
    I look forward to networking with you in the future!

    J. Souza
    SocialMediaMagic.Com

  14. Sammy Hislop says:

    Should “The truth is that you succeed in anything if success is never defined” be changed to “the truth is that you (never) succeed in anything if success is never defined”? Thanks for sharing.

  15. Mel Kirk says:

    What would you say to someone who wanted to try and associate a value with a length of a post – similar to that of a newspaper article?

    • briansolis says:

      In terms of communications value? Years ago the article length/size was valued at similar ad rates with a multiple to imply editorial endorsement. I never agreed with that approach and I believe the industry officially killed it a long time ago. However, value is in the eye of the beholder.

  16. Amanda says:

    This is a great article and I couldn’t agree with you more. While I don’t always oversee clients’ social media strategies, I’ve been in enough meetings to know that sometimes clients view social media strategy as been active on different platforms. Truth is, you have to have goals in mind when launching a campaign. Without goals there are no tactics. Without tactics, no (meaningful) results. As PR pros it is our job to guide clients and drive strategy. If not for helping them have a successful business, then to ensure that we have the skill set to survive in this changing business years (or even months) down the line.

  17. Pingback: maxgiraux
  18. Pingback: Tors Tips
  19. Great article (or should I say Forward)! Social Media initiatives are an investment, regardless of
    the size of the company involved. Marketers who are new to social, should keep
    in mind that the biggest part of this investment is measuring its return.
    Within a social strategy, attainable goals should be set and a plan for
    monitoring the progress and measuring the outcome should be implemented. While
    it’s true that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” formula for doing
    so, there are a few key rules of thumb that can be applied to nearly any
    industry. For a comprehensive look at the challenges involved in measuring
    ROI of social media, reviews on the thought leadership about the topic and
    practical recommendations on how to achieve stronger ROI from your social
    initiatives, check out the latest white paper released by MutualMind: http://bit.ly/mmproi

    Socially charmed,

    Danielle

    Brand Evangelist @MutualMind

  20. Anonymous says:

    Success
    requires definition based on intentions, goals, and mutual value…across
    the organization from the top down, bottom up, inside out and outside
    in. Success is defined departmentally and also at the brand level. And,
    success is tied to desirable actions and outcomes.
    mobile signal booster

  21. Anonymous says:

    I agree with this that the The debate over ROI is only going to gain in importance. This blog is sharing the good information  about the social media .
    mobile signal booster

  22. Very good article. I think social media metrics do not have to be complicated even if it is still a bit controversial. You are already doing many forms of measurement with your traditional media projects. Where social media is involved, you know that measurement is constantly evolving as existing platforms change and new ones enter the social space.

  23. Media Agency says:

    While insurers are still contemplating taking up the social media ranks to target consumers themselves, perhaps a better idea is to take up the challenge to cover businesses and professionals against the risks associated with social networking.

  24. Nice post and i can’t wait to have a copy of that book.. 

  25. Monotype and linotype
    typesetting machines were introduced in the late 19th century. They
    could set more than 6,000 letters per hour and an entire line of type at
    once.

  26. Judith says:

    You can also say Return of Idiot 🙂 The success of social media campaign is up to you depending on your strategy.

  27. tampa water softener florida says:

    Water that is not fit for drinking but is not harmful for humans when
    used for swimming or bathing is called by various names other than
    potable or drinking water, and is sometimes called safe water, or “safe for bathing”. Chlorine

  28. I like this content.As in anything in business, the ability to tie activity to the business values is critical.I am very impressed to this content.This is an amazing.The written skill is so good.Thanks to share this blog with us keep sharing.

  29. Anonymous says:

    thanks a lot for sharing this information…

    it’s quite useful for me

  30. Anonymous says:

    The very first Crane Stand was crafted of powder-coated steel with the help of aeronautical engineer and designer Brandon Wilke. The mobile laptop stand was first released at Decibel Festival (An International Electronic Music Festival) in 2008 in Seattle and received an overwhelmingly positive response from the music community. Soon thereafter, hands were shook securing a deal with a large-scale distributor, and it wasn’t long until the Crane Stand was in full scale production.

  31. Some people may believe it does stand for return on ignorance. lol

  32. SEO Expert says:

    Yeah absolutely ROI stands for Return on Investment, and that is way this is so important for marketers to take this thing under consider every time…

  33. Anonymous says:

    This is music to my ears.This is really a great post! Thanks for sharing. A blog really owes its success to its loyal readers and faithful followers.

  34. One does not have
    to visit the premises of the financial institutes offering the pay day loans to
    get them approved. In fact one can apply for these loans by filling out the
    forms online or using the telephone. This process hardly takes more than thirty
    minutes and there’s plenty of websites online offering this feature.

  35. Whenever you feel
    that something is amiss, you can take over the process using the mouse.
    Moreover, once the repair works is completed, the technician will be
    disconnected from your system and won’t be in a position to link to your PC
    without permission.

  36. The fact that the links that you put into your content will lead people
    away from your business is not a bad thing. It demonstrates that you are not
    merely showing a narrow perspective but that you are offering a broader and more
    comprehensive and fair one.

  37. Due to the quick introduction of electronic safety in regular
    applications, you’ll face more individuals with insignificant training in
    actual security services. They’ve just learned how something is installed or
    the other which they don’t really comprehend over night. 

  38. On the other hand, this care stops all forms of treatment and finding a
    cure is not a priority. The medications that the patient is given are meant for
    easing discomfort and pain brought on by the disease. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join Our Mailing List

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Stay Connected
Twitter