Monday, January 19, 2009

Social Media Marketing: ROI, Engagement and Influence

If you need to make the case within your organization for spending more on social media channels, or if you want some ammo when the dreaded "ROI" topic comes up, this pdf by David Meerman Scott is worth a look. The language is somewhat hyped and the discussion is almost entirely anecdotal, but it does serve up some good food for thought.

Scott's initial case study is Matt Harding's YouTube video of himself doing a goofy dance in places all over the world. Whatever your take on the video and it's coma-inducing soundtrack, it does beg the question, "What is the ROI of 11 million happy people?"

Scott's points are:
  • Measuring only "sales leads" is counterproductive, since requiring contact information from people downloading your content significantly reduces the number of people who bother.
  • The whole point is to get your ideas (and by extension your message and your brand) in front of as many people as possible, which means being less obtrusive.
  • You can measure how many people view your content and assume some percentage will buy your products.
  • Giving away content and encouraging sharing of it vastly increases the number of people who will see it.
Another quick read is Aaron Uhrmacher's Mashable post on ROI. He includes some resources (such as Google Analytics) that allow you to quantify the things you can, and offers some qualitative metrics to consider as well.

Finally, Jeremiah Owyang and Matt Toll's whitepaper on "Tracking The Influence"captures a more in-depth discussion about the differences between "participation" and "influence". While you can find ways to track the number of people who are engaged with your ideas/message/brand, determining how much your efforts influence them is much more slippery.

If you just skim Owyang & Toll's paper, be sure to check out the resources section at the end. It includes a link to their wiki from the roundtable, as well as a number of other resources for in-depth study.

(Photo credit: Christopher Thomas)

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