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Social Media ROI Must Be Measured

JUL 26, 2011 11:29am ET
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I have said this before and I will probably say it again. The return on one's investment in a social media marketing campaign needs to be measured, just as one would measure the ROI on a traditional marketing campaign.

The reason why I think I will probably say it again is because the issue is still being talked about by social media and marketing experts.

The latest case in point: a press release from social media and web strategist Randall Craig. In today's business environment, where weaker revenues are leading companies to cut their budgets, the question is, what gets cut?

Too often, it is a question of what is easiest to cut, what are the newest programs, or which programs have the weakest sponsors," Craig said. "A far better approach is to cut based on efficiency and effectiveness."

Looking only from the perspective of cost may not allow a business to measure the worth of the initiative and if it is actually pulling its weight. Cutting lazy investments frees resources for higher-value activities. "This concept is even more important when it comes to social media. Managing and measuring all too often are forgotten in the excitement of the latest tweet or blog posting—they shouldn't be," he said.

Each social media marketing initiative needs to be evaluated at the start, he said.

Craig's questions to ask: What are the goals of the program? How will they be measured? What are the expected results: financial, marketing, operational, and otherwise? What are the downstream benefits?

Answering these questions at the start will make mid-course corrections easier. And it also means that when the call to cut happens, objective measurements can be introduced as criteria.

"Review your social media initiatives, and set the goals, measures, and expected results. Don't get caught when the call to cut occurs," Craig warned.

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