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Steve Woodruff


The same debate has raged in other sectors, such as training, where the ability to calculate a specific dollar return is...shall we say...squishy. Some of these things simply have to be done as a matter of faith - a better trained person will generally sell better; more active interactions with customers will lead to better relationships and more sales, etc.

The Return on _____ question is a transactional mindset. Not an interactional mindset (if we might toss in a neologism)! The transactional mindset is often fixated on short-term reward for specific tasks or initiatives. Social media requires a long-term, principled view of the value of creating relationships.

Paul Chaney

I'll weigh in (per Twitter). The ROI, according to a recent study sponsored by Awareness Networks, is: Increased customer engagement; increased brand awareness & loyalty; and effective market research.

Those are the outwardly-facing returns. There are a number of benefits social media (I prefer the term Conversational Media) brings to the enterprise internally as well: Improved communication and improved knowledge management to name just two.

Great post Debbie. I appreciate your linking to so many other credible topical resources. Now, I have something to keep me occupied the rest of the day! :-)

Jeremiah Owyang

You're welcome!

Tom Hood

Right on point (as ususal)! We have been blgging now for almost a year and a half and have seen the "return on influence" you describe. Anyone who is on the sidelines about blogging and understanding web 2.0 should get in the game now or miss out on some grea opportunities. In addition to the "ROI" is the relatyionships with other thought leaders you can make. Keep up the great work Deb.

By the way, we are where we are because of Deb's coaching - thanks Deb!

Valeria Maltoni

Thank you for the link, Debbie. One great way to train the organization to feel and see the benefit of social media tools is by starting to use them internally - grassroots would be best.

Let your groups figure it out, provide counsel and the space. Many companies can use a massive infusion of marketing 101 and public relations 101 to understand that marketing communications are not done by the pound. They are not happy meals with fries and coke. They are part of a business ecosystem. So is having conversations with customers.

Tim Wilson

I agree with virtually all the points you've made, and thanks for all of the great links to more information on the subject!

However, I take issue with the "ROI in social media is return on influence." If you really think about it, that terminology really doesn't make sense. Let's talk about measuring the impact of social media initiatives, which are everything you pointed out: not standardized, soft, and, well, hard to measure.

Measuring the results -- the return -- is going to vary from company to company depending on what their social media strategy is. Tools and thinking will come along that make this easier. But, one thing that is sure is that we're not measuring the "return on influence." We're trying to measure Return On an Investment in social media. It's just that the return might not be measured in hard dollars.

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