After reading this article on BrandWeek, I started thinking about the term ROI and how it relates to social media. It seems like the biggest brands and the most prestigious bloggers have been searching for a way to measure the return on investment in social media, but a true formula hasn’t been drawn up. I’m here to voice my opinions on the matter, merely being a student of the industry and not considering myself a “social media expert.” 😉
The BrandWeek article talks about “viral” videos and how to measure the ROI of creating one. Here is the final paragraph to the article: “You remember E*Trade for the babies while Evian drives interest in the brand. And consider how the Evian babies video went viral by itself while E*Trade spent tons of money on the Super Bowl to get as much search volume as Evian did without spending. That’s what I consider ROI.” They are referring to this Evian video, which was the #1 viral video of 2009 with over 55million views. Now, while they had to pay for production of this video and didn’t see a rise in sales numbers, did the amount of views truly bring anything to the brand? You bet it did. Instead of paying for expensive TV spots they put the video on the web where it was viewed by 55k people, which is far larger than most television audiences.
But, moving on past video to basic social media – Facebook fan/”like” pages & Twitter Pages. If the term ROI is being used by a brand when they are entering this area of the social space, they have the wrong idea from the start. Social is just that, a space to talk with fans and learn from your consumers.
Do you look at your group of friends and say, “Hmm, I wonder if these people are worth my time and overall investment. Are there other places I could be spending my time that would better benefit me?” No!! Well, at least I hope you don’t. Brands need to be a personality within the social space, and ROI questions need to be thrown out the window. Social is like hanging out at a bar with all of your most loyal friends and you’re the one that should be driving conversation and interest with relevant questions, new ideas, and by buying the occasional round (contests/giveaways).
Yesterday, Edward Boches (@EdwardBoches) came into my social media class at Emerson (#esm) and gave one of the most interesting SM presentations I’ve ever seen. I wanted to ask him a question about his thoughts on social ROI, but he had to head out the door before the class was allowed to ask questions. Edward talked a lot about what social media is and what it is providing brands. It allows brands to connect to their consumers on a whole new level, as well as allows consumers to show their brand loyalty. One example he used is below:
A Budweiser TV Spot:
Fan response a few days after the commercial aired:
This example shows the power of social media and how loyal customers are looking to reach out to their favorite brands. Not only did these fans take in the content they found, but decided to make their own and post it to the web. This takes time and effort from the fans. Why aren’t brands as loyal to their favorite customers as some customers are to their favorite brands? Customers show their true personality on social media, so brands should do the same. Consumers are able to filter through the garbage/spam that some brands put out, but they can still take away personalized messages from the space. Brands don’t need to see clear cut sales numbers jump, because a majority of the fans you get in the social space already enjoy your product and are simply looking to gain more of a personal branded experience. So, big brands, get out there and be social without worrying about how it comes back to you. This is my recipe for success.