The elusive concept of social media ROI

I’m not 100% sure about this, but couldn’t social media ROI be
measured in much the same way PR ROI has been measured for ages? It
won’t be possible to attribute certain new customers or certain sales
made to certain clearly-defined activities, but surely it will be
possible to calculate the input in social media activities vs. brand
awareness, loyalty, customer inquiries, changes in ad campaign pull
percentages or other “soft” parameters over a period of time?

From my adventures in social media    aimless as they are yet    I have
come to the conclusion that many people are approaching social media
ROI in a somewhat erroneous way. As if we were talking about a
“campaign” where you invest a certain amount of money, work-hours or
whatever, launch it on day X, end it on day X + something and then sit
back and let the bean-counters tell you how much extra revenue it
brought in. It just doesn’t work like that.

In fact, I am slightly amazed at how scattered the opinions about SM
ROI are, given that social media “gurus” seem to come thirteen in a
dozen. Let’s accept it, the more we are dealing with peer-to-peer
communication, the less accurately measurable the results will be.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

#marketing#social media


  1. Beth Harte - 2009-09-24 @ 23:35

    Kimmo, I think there are four parts to measuring social media…much like PR. Benchmarks, Objectives (measurable), Return on Expentitures (what you mention above) and Return on Investment (BORR).

    While not all objectives will lead to ROI, they definitely can. 🙂

    Rather than regurgitate it all…here’s a link to a presentation I’ve done on this very subject. As well, I’ve written mulitple blog posts. (

    Also…being a social media “expert” has nothing to do with scattered opinons. It has to do with how/where marketing, PR, business folks learn about measurement, metrics and how to calculate ROI.

    There is no one school of thought on any of it. And they don’t always teach it in university or on the job.

    I have seen top executives confuse goals with objectives (measurable) and strategies with tactics.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic Kimmo…it’s surely not going away anytime soon.

    Beth Harte

  2. Kimmo Linkama - 2009-09-25 @ 00:05

    Thanks for the comment, Beth! I watched your presentation, and the question that strikes me as the most important is how the outcome can be quantified. Because SM is only one part of the marketing mix, how is it possible to attribute anything to it alone?

    Am I totally wrong in suggesting that when marketing is fundamentally changing, so should the ways to measure its outcome?

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