On this fine Saturday afternoon, I am sitting on a bench overlooking an arm of the Fraser River, across from the Olympic Oval in Richmond and just within wifi range of Harbour Air’s terminal. I’m reading a BCBusiness magazine, and there is an article about viral videos.
The article brings up the subject of how much money companies may (or may not) be spending on social media, and the fact that there are apparently companies popping up whose market offering is their expertise in measuring the effectiveness of social-video advertising.
Frankly, I think that anyone who purports to give you an adequate measure of the “effectiveness” of your social media is pulling one over on you. I have yet to see a reasonably disciplined, reliable and valid method of demonstrating the value of social media and, many experts have opined, on marketing as a whole. There’s the old nugget “we know that 50% of our marketing is working; we just don’t know which 50%.”
I am open to being corrected, but I think that consultants claiming to show you ROI on your social media budget (counting both time and money) are going to, at best, describe some qualitative signs that your brand perception has shifted. Hopefully they will have a sample size of customers that is statistically significant, and they will have employed some kind of valid research techniques including control groups etc. to tell you that there is a causal relationship between your social media activities and increases in your revenue. Because frankly, having people “feel good” about your company isn’t worth diddly-squat until it translates into dollars paid. From what I’ve seen, most social media practitioners/consultants are unable to make that link conclusively.
I’m not advocating for people to ditch their social media, just that they not fool themselves that it is a speculative and unproven thing to spend your money on. Back there in business school we were taught to look at what the ROI and “return period” is for an investment, and decide what is a reasonable time frame for the results of a decision to yield a positive gain over the amount spent. Social media hasn’t really been around long enough to conclusively show that it has a positive ROI for many of not most companies who are making those investments. That doesn’t say you shouldn’t do it – but caveat emptor. And don’t believe anyone who can tell you they can measure your results – they might give you a # of hits or click-throughs but only YOU can measure the result in your bottom line.