Searching for the elusive ROI in social media…

I have been blogging some time now about how marketing companies can capitalize on social media.  And, for the most part, I have been extolling the virtues of social media being a customer relationship and brand management tool rather than a pure marketing tool.  I still believe this.  But, the marketer in me really believes that social media can be an effective part of an integrated marketing campaign.

Marketers will only be able to capitalize on social media if they have a formal social media marketing plan—one that includes specific language on how social media will be integrated with the company’s internet marketing, e-mail marketing, mobile marketing and traditional marketing plan elements.  I think many companies fail at social media because they don’t have a specific plan on how they are going to integrate social media with their other marketing strategies. And, they have absolutely no clue on how they plan to measure the return on their social media investment.

Some encouraging news with respect to social media strategizing was reported by R2integrated from a survey (via eMarketer) they conducted in April (a survey among 262 marketing professionals).  Specifically:

  • Half of the respondents to the survey confirmed that they have a social media strategy
  • Over half (54%) of respondents thought social media was “innovative and invaluable to their business.”  
    • However, 37% thought social media was “useful and helpful, but they could live without it.”
  • And, only 35% of respondents said their companies have increased revenue or profited using social media
  • If they had profited from their social media efforts, they were likely to:
    • Have a social media strategy: respondents were about twice as likely to have a formal social media strategy
    • Have dedicated headcount for managing social media—57% had dedicated headcount for social media
    • Rate their social media acumen highly:  respondents were about twice as likely to rate themselves as “proficient” or “expert”
    • Have read a book on social media:  responders were almost three times as likely to have read a book on social media

Interestingly, the biggest obstacle to implementing social strategies is similar to the obstacles we experience for other forms of marketing.  Specifically, they are: not having enough data to come up with a measure of return on investment, management buy-in was also a problem, and dealing with missing “fish” –the target isn’t currently utilizing social media.

Main Obstacle to Implementing a Social Media Strategy According to US Marketing Professionals, April 2010 (% of respondents)


So if you are a novice or an expert, you need to have a formal social media strategy to make it effective. And, most important, if you are a marketer and you want to implement successful social media campaigns for you and/or your client, remember, you need to integrate your campaign into your traditional marketing plan.    

 Happy marketing!

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