Social Media ROI is a rather complex concept, I’ve observed. Unlike more direct forms of marketing, its indicators may not include actual sales. This has resulted in a lot of skepticism about its impact and hence relevance.
With Social Media, you can touch your stars. I wrote to my favorite writer, I’m ‘following’ my favorite actors and I know what the politicians I hate are up to now. I’m also a follower of the Dell blog, the retail chains I ‘like’ and the events I’m ‘attending’. Truth be told, Shoppers Stop and Bingo! Chips are as big stars to me as any actor. The fact that when I comment on its Facebook page saying a particular brand of clothing wasn’t available, Shoppers Stop replies informing me of the outlets it is available at, is strangely reassuring and encouraging. And I’m not going to deny the sudden high of having Shahrukh Khan (twitter) reply to my question on Twitter.
Which is all great and all, but how are Shah Rukh and Bingo! (Or Lays) profiting from this? Writing to SRK on Twitter is no assurance that I’m going to be watching Ra 1.
Well, they’re not. Not monetarily, anyway (even if sales do increase, but it’s impossible to relate that to any one cause). But Social Media Marketing is great PR, even if that is a slight contradiction in terms. Which means ROI needs to be mentioned in nontraditional ways. Fitting, since Social Media Marketing is nontraditional.
Social Media ROI is most important when it comes to actually measuring non-quantitative indicators like the audience reactions to new plans, satisfaction with customer service and referring to the brand as an expert on a particular concept or area of service. A few thousand people who ‘like’ your retail chain/restaurant/bookstore come online everyday and tell you what they think about you, what they want from you and how they will respond to a new t-shirt collection/event you’re introducing, and who they’d rather have performing there – everything you want to know, really.
ROI goes past money, here. It can actually affect the number of people who like your brand enough to buy from you.