Is ROI on Social Media a waste of time?
July 12, 2010 in All posts
I recently wrote a fairly long (rambling?) post about Social Media, and whether it was right for business. I included a bunch of bullet points around why, how and where it could be used. I also included a bit around tracking ROI, and stipulated that regular success metrics were not geared up for the intricacies of this new era of online interaction. It’s this point that I’ve been mulling.
Perhaps controversially, I wonder if trying to track ROI in Social Media is actually completely missing the point of it.
By its very definition, Social Media is – rightly or wrongly – basically an alternative for regular socialisation: a digital proxy for human interaction, where we can talk, recommend, ‘like’ things, spread the word about whatever takes our fancy…it’s doing nothing more than broadening the reach of interaction and speeding it up at the same time. Essentially, this is not drastically different to any other major socio-computational advance in the last 40 years or so.
So: is trying to place a dollar value on this digitised interaction – whether it be a Facebook fan, a Tweet in your favour, or an emailed-to-a-friend product – actually pretty futile? Shouldn’t the focus of Social Media be more about people than business, and if a business benefits then it’s because of quality interactions undertaken by humans being…well, human?
Zappos are often cited as a best-practice example, because they use Social as genuine customer service channels. Whilst digital channels can’t communicate the intricacies of human interaction, such as the various undertones & overtones of body language, speech inflection & intonation, etc – it does offer the speed & reach already discussed which is perfect for helping other humans do human things (I don’t mean having a poo in the woods, here – I mean carry out their various tasks successfully).
Can a value be put on that? Should a value be put on it? Shouldn’t companies just be as human as possible and just be helpful or interesting?
Perhaps an irrelevant comparison to draw, but stepping back for a moment, imagine being sat in a pub 40 years ago. Mmm beer.
George Rosier runs this blog. It's somewhere he can vent his spleen about web design, usability, SEO, and other such nonsense that will no doubt mean nothing in 5 years' time.