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Social Media ROI Remains An Elusive Target

Trying to uncover useful information about ROI on Social Media use by business has been a lot like hunting for Osama Bin Laden.  There are lots of people looking, they know generally where to look, but no-one has succeeded yet in winning the prize.  The prize I’m talking about is a $500 package of cash and services that was offered as our “bounty” on this valuable marketing data in a previous post on this blog.  I’ve been encouraged by a lot of bright insights as to the relative value of Social Media, and have read a number of case studies showing creative use of these tools, and how they are evaluated.  Still no ROI study however.  So I encourage you to be on the lookout for such a study. There may be a valuable consolation prize for “getting close.”  The offer is valid through December 31, 2009.

In the meantime, one of my favorite research sites has provided a bit of data on who is investigating this area, including OfficeMax, Nissan, Dell, and Microsoft. The following was excerpted from a recent report by them.

Forrester Research projects companies will spend $3.1 billion annually on social media by 2014.2 So it isn’t surprising that social media measurement is top of mind among marketers surveyed in a poll by MarketingProfs. Nearly 50 percent of respondents say that social media measurement is “Important” to them; another 36 percent say it is “Somewhat Important.”

Determining return on investment, however, appears to be a major challenge. More than 70 percent of respondents do not believe their companies are adequately measuring the impact of social media campaigns in terms of tangible results. Only 20 percent think they are.

Surprisingly, the biggest hurdle to social media measurement is finding the personnel to do the measurement and analysis work. In a “pick all that apply” question about measurement obstacles, “Dedicated Resources” was chosen by 30 percent of the respondents, followed by “Don’t Know What to Measure” (25 percent) and “Social Media Measurement Isn’t Primarily About ROI”(20 percent).

Public relations measurement ranks similarly to social media in terms of priority, with 51 percent calling it, “Important” and another 36 percent considering it “Somewhat Important.”

For both social media measurement and PR measurement, many marketers report using their Web analytics packages to quantify results. Other methods of measuring PR response include tracking stories and blog mentions over time. Circulation numbers is the fourth most common answer, poll results show.

Dedicated resources is also cited as the biggest hurdle to PR measurement, (reported by 38 percent), followed by “Don’t Know What to Measure” (27 percent) and “Lack of Measurement Tools” (17 percent).

Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe social media monitoring is “Important” to their companies; 31 percent think it is “Somewhat Important.” A good sign for vendors, 78 percent of respondents say they plan to increase social media monitoring over the next six months; 18 percent expect the level of monitoring to remain the same. Not one person thinks his or her company plans to decrease the use of monitoring.

One Response to “Social Media ROI Remains An Elusive Target”

  1. boblogadmin says:

    If you are interested in a copy of the study from which the data in this article was excerpted (including 11 Case Studies), please send an email to with the subject title: “Social Media Research Study Request.”