For years, skeptics have been shooting down the value of social media with one simple question: What’s the ROI of a Like, or a follower, or a share?
It annoys the heck out of me that so many marketers have glommed onto the same misguided question…
On the other hand, I can’t really blame them; because I’m one of the guys who try to measure and test everything.
When it comes to measuring social media in terms of dollars and cents, I’ll be the first one to say that it’s really freaking complicated, almost impossible for most marketers — even for huge companies like GM with virtually limitless resources.
I could try to explain that a Facebook page is free, and so is a status update, which means that “I” in the equation actually equals ZERO. If you’re a math nerd, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m about to say…
When you divide something by nothing, the result is infinite/undefined. Unlike so many other media channels, the only investment required to take advantage of social media is manpower — paid ads and custom apps are optional.
Therein lies the problem; advertisers like simple answers, and there’s just no simple answer to the question. Those with the gold with the gold make the rules, right?
Fortunately, there are plenty of marketers out there that have had great results with social media and were willing to take the so-called “risk” to figure out how tools like Facebook and Twitter could be used to reach massive new reserves of leads.
After enough pushing and prodding, almost every major marketer followed suit, investing in social media managers, learning about social media marketing from Kate Buck Jr., and getting results — even if they didn’t quite understand how it was happening.
Bring in the Ivy Leaguers
Still, this tenacious little question wouldn’t die. What, exactly, is the freaking ROI of social media?
And since it wouldn’t die, the world’s top minds — Ivy League statisticians and the like — have been focusing their incredible talents on trying to pinpoint Click-Through Rates. Absurd, isn’t it?
As you’d expect, they’ve done a bang-up job, and we now have excellent social media marketing data. We also have a much better idea of how to measure the “R” in the question: Assists.
There’s a reason the NBA tracks assists… social media advertisers have to learn to do the same.
One of the best case studies I’ve come across recently is Ford’s “Mustang Customizer” app — an app that allows users to, you guessed it, design their own Mustang. Anyway, this app has been used to design 4.3M Mustangs and Mustang sales are up 18%.
Here’s the thing though, Ford doesn’t attribute the jump in sales to the app directly, they’re savvy enough to understand the value of the “assist.”