Okay, that might be taking things a little too far. But social media is becoming so obviously a success that there is no longer a need for sophisticated measurement tools to demonstrate its ROI. Organizations and the people who help them communicate are realizing tangible benefits from social media every day. For example, a 16% increase in sales (P&G’s Old Spice campaign), a 90% increase in requests for quotes to an insurance company (comparethemarket.com), and a $650,000 increase in revenue (Humane Society of the United States). These solid and substantial results are so frequent now that I think the clamor for social media ROl will soon go away...
That’s not to suggest that in the future we won’t need to monitor and understand what the market is saying about us. But having to prove that magical “ROI of Social Media” will make as much sense as demanding to know the ROI for your phone system or your IT department. Rather than a separate “phenom” or a separate department, social media will be simply an accepted way of doing business.
We’ve always said that you can learn more from failure than you can from success. But the problem is that right now everyone wants to measure social media success—even before they’ve defined what success looks like. I for one look forward to the day when the PR person or the social media team stops looking for the proverbial gold star or A+ to justify his/her existence and instead looks at social media for the insights and knowledge that it offers. Maybe it’s time to time to learn from what social media can and can’t do.
Social media also makes our everyday lives richer in ways that can't easily be measured. For example, at a presentation recently, someone asked for a good example of a B2B client who had used social media effectively. I tweeted the question and got a quick a reference to a Boeing program from David Meerman Scott. Boeing saw that tweet and immediately sent a link to a page that described the successful program. Within five minutes that page was displayed on the screen in front of an audience of 100 people. Such communication could not have happened without social media. Will that quick action help Boeing sell another 777? Probably not. But it does enhance the company’s reputation for being responsive and listening.
At some point companies stopped having to justify their investments in telephones, typewriters, and computers. Sometime within the next five years that will happen with social media.
Here's wishing you large measures of success,
Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements.