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Collective Wisdom:    Some expert thinking on five social media questions as we enter the first decade

2.The term “Social Media ROI” is still full of mystery. What type of benchmarks should marketers be using right now?

2.The term “Social Media ROI” is still full of mystery. What type of benchmarks should marketers be using right now?

Visit Linda Bustos's blog
Linda Bustos
Elastic Path Software
Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog
Depends on what your social media marketing goals are. If you are trying to drive sales through promotions, you need to make sure you're measuring the impact of different tactics. How many times does an offer you "tweet" get retweeted? How often is it clicked? What is the bounce rate on these clicks? What is the conversion and revenue impact of social media? How has your social media marketing program improved across time? What specific campaigns worked better than others? Adding campaign parameters to your URLs can help, as can a system of consolidating the different link shortening services that may be sending referrals to the same URL. Harder to quantify is the impact social media has on brand perception.

Visit Ravit Lichtenberg's blog
Ravit Lichtenberg
In 2010, companies who have been passive spectators will need to dive into the ROI wonderland. To start, marketers should: -Only use benchmarks that they can measure and impact -Slowly transition from hype metrics--engagement, conversation, followers--into tested and proven measurements: increased traffic to target website pages, improved conversion due to behavior-tracking fixes, brand loyalty score,etc. -Consider creative benchmarks that may not lead to immediate ROI but will signal value to client/company: product improvement feedback, R&D innovation, improved brand messaging & communication, etc. And, get ready for a ride of a year- it *will* feel as if it had been changed in a night.

Visit Mirna Bard's blog
Mirna Bard
Personal Blog
How do you put a value on relationships; the value of the long-term relationships online and having brand evangelists spread the word about your products and services for your through social media is far greater than and more POWERFUL than ROI...we need to measure engagement. Are influencers sharing/commenting on our content? Is engagement increasing? Are we going from negative comments to positive or vice versa?

Visit Ari Herzog's blog
Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog & Associates
The better question is what benchmarks should not be used, and I can't think of any.

Visit Josh Peters's blog
Josh Peters
Shua Marketing and Consulting
That's something that I have blogged about a lot lately and the answer varies so dramatically based on how you're using social media. If you're using it for tech support or customer service then ROI is the wrong question to be asking. These areas are financial black holes for companies but their impact is huge and they are often the real voice of the company. If you're using social media for PR and Marketing then you'll need to set your benchmarks based on the type of campaign you're running. If it's financial based then rev up the ROI machine and tally away and compare the results to some of your traditional methods to see how it fares.

Visit Brian Solis's blog
Brian Solis
Brian Solis (blog)
The term ROI is only mysterious to those who practice social media through a "create a profile and let's go go go" initiative. How do you measure Social Media ROI if you don't know why it is that you're engaging in the first place. The ability to measure ROI has never been elusive, it's only been out of reach by those who didn't think about it first. Everything starts with creating a click path to closure. Figure out where you need to be and why. What you can measure through that engagement (sales, leads, registrations, etc.) and how much man power and resources it takes to makes things happen.

Visit Joe Pulizzi's blog
Joe Pulizzi
The Content Marketing Revolution
The most important thing is asking "Why?" What do you want to get out of social media for your company? That is what you need to measure. Is it for customer service, for acquisition, for retention? Figure that out first, then measure that.

Visit Larry Brauner's blog
Larry Brauner
Larry Brauner
Online Social Networking
As I discuss in "The Social Media ROI Obsession," most so-called social media marketing is really PR, not marketing, and trending soft metrics of engagement and reputation may be more promising than studying acquisition costs and computing net present values.

Visit Ryan Peal's blog
Ryan Peal
Momentum Worldwide
Ideas, Imagination & Stuff (a.k.a. Ryan's View)
For me social media ROI is all about time people not only spend with a brand, but time they spend sharing the fun they are having with brands to friends and family. So measuring not just people becoming fans or clicking on websites, but rates of pass-alongs, second-degree reach, likes/favorites, comments, etc.

Visit David Berkowitz's blog
David Berkowitz
Inside the Marketers Studio
Marketers should be using any benchmarks that tie into their overall objectives. They can use social media to understand who their customers are, what they're doing, and where, when, why, and how they're doing it. All of these can be traced back to metrics marketers can measure and understand. Additionally, brand marketers can tie social media results to brand metrics. There are dozens of benchmarks to consider (I write a list of 100 of them), and the only ones that matter for a given marketer are those that tie back to their objectives.

Visit Samir Balwani's blog
Samir Balwani
Samir Balwani (blog)
I understand using benchmarks to track social media ROI but it always comes down to sales. Here's what I recommend, before you started trying out social media what were you sales? What does it usually increase yearly? How much did it increase since you started using social media? You can't assign exactly how much social media affected your sales, but it gives you an idea. The harder question is, "How do you forecast social media ROI?"

Visit Jake Hird's blog
Jake Hird
This totally depends on the objectives of the organisation using social media. Do they want soft-engagement? Do they just want to participate in reputation monitoring? Are they using social media as a customer service tool? Are they wanting to drive a branding campaign or just deliver a monetary ROI? I would suggest that in order to understand the return social media can give, marketers need to understand what goals they are investing into.

Visit Bernie Borges's blog
Bernie Borges
Find and Convert
Find and Convert Blog
Buyers want to buy from brands they like and trust. Brands who build trust win. Ways to measure ROI include the increase in the number of subscribers to their content profiles on the web, re-tweets, downloads, blog comments and brand mentions. Brands should measure mentions diligently. Measure company name, product name, category, people and industry mentions. Also, measure sources of website/blog traffic and keywords. Track the trend among all of these elements. Also, measure which content topics are the most popular and produce more of popular topics. These measurement strategies are cogs in the wheel. Measure the trend in sales activity and correlate it to the progress in all of above.

Visit Alexander van Elsas's blog
Alexander van Elsas
If you are using ROI to determine the success of your social media efforts then you are already using the wrong mindset. Engagement, interaction, communication, social media help you to connect you to your customer. Overall that will improve your (financial) performance as a company. Investing in a one off project and then measuring if it outperforms traditional marketing will not get you the right result. ROI can never be the main driver, your customer would know and dislike you for it.

Visit Maddie Grant's blog
Maddie Grant
You can't benchmark without specific objectives. Based on those objectives, companies and organizations can measure engagement, brand mentions, sales, conversations, and whatever else creates business intelligence for them. Getting the data is not the hard part - making sense of the massive amounts of data out there is.

Visit Ian Lurie's blog
Ian Lurie
Portent Interactive
Conversation Marketing
It's not about the traffic to your blog or web site so much as it's about the persistence of your message. Tools like Tweetmeme and Bit.ly are critical. Then you have to track results over time. Don't just stare at your traffic report and say "We're not getting conversions". That's stupid. Track improvement in overall sales; reduced support costs; improved conversion rates from other sources. Most important, marketers had damned well better learn what 'click attribution' means. Or they better hire me :)

Visit Mitch Joel's blog
Mitch Joel
Twist Image
Six Pixels of Separation
Engagement, time spent, type of conversation, spreading of good conversation, fixing of bad conversation, increasing bottom-line sales and customer base, and looking at how they can add value (instead of noise) to the conversation.

Visit Chris Burdge's blog
Chris Burdge
bWEST Interactive
Depends on whether you're running an e-commerce business or simply using the web for marketing, branding, lead gen, etc. Real ROI requires financial calculations which not every company can track/attribute accurately. Start by setting quantifiable goals, defining your metrics then implement tools to enable tracking, measuring, reporting and analysis.

Visit Scott Fox's blog
Scott Fox
E-Commerce Success Blog
The acceptance of social media is allowing a shift from quantity of audience to quality. In 2010 successful marketers, (both online social media folks and traditional marketers), should measure their campaign (and career) success based on the quality of audience instead of traditional mass media metrics. Engaging with customers and potential customers through social media marketing can increase customer loyalty, lead to repeat purchases, and spread your marketing messages more cost-effectively than ever before.

Visit Alexandra Samuel's blog
Alexandra Samuel
Social Signal
Alexandra Samuel
The field of social media metrics is currently much like the proverbial drunk who is looking for his lost keys under the street lamp -- because that's where the light is. For now, we're heavily constrained by what is measurable: hits, links, mentions, follows, friends. What we need are metrics that provide insights not just into the volume of exposure and relationships, but on the quality of those mentions and relationships. Semantic analysis is useful but much harder to obtain or communicate, so we're focusing a lot of attention on numbers that may or may not correspond to the actual richness of our relationships.

Visit Cameron Chapman's blog
Cameron Chapman
Cameron Chapman on Writing
Do your followers respond when you ask a question? Do they share or retweet the things you post? Do they comment on your updates or blog posts? If not, you're probably not doing it right.

Visit Jim Gianoglio's blog
Jim Gianoglio
There are a lot of ways to measure social media, but I have 3 favorites: 1. Brand mentions (and the surrounding sentiment) 2. Engagement (how many people are commenting on your blog, Facebook fan page, etc.) 3. Site traffic from social media initiatives

Visit Lisa Whelan's blog
Lisa Whelan
Socialize Mobilize
Socialize Mobilize Blog
Before establishing benchmarks to measure ROI, you should decide what constitutes "success" for a particular social media campaign. For example, if your primary goal in using Twitter is to increase sales on your company's website, you should monitor how much new traffic is pushed to your website through Twitter and measure how much of that traffic converts to new sales. Dell did this and attributed ~$3M in new sales to Twitter. In contrast, if increased brand awareness and improved sentiment is your goal, use a social media monitoring tool to measure the change in the number of mentions your brand gets online & whether those mentions are increasingly positive or negative.

Visit Mike Volpe's blog
Mike Volpe
Inbound Marketing Blog
Business benchmarks never change. It is always about sales, and things that lead to sales, like leads. If a marketing activity does not drive sales in some way, it is not a useful activity. I think in 2010 more companies will start to realize the importance of closed loop marketing and will be able to implement marketing software that measures the number of new customers coming from each marketing channel.

Visit Lisa Barone's blog
Lisa Barone
Outspoken Media
Outspoken Media blog
It depends on your reasons for entering social media. You have to identify what it is you're trying to grow in social media and then ID the action that achieves that. Things to look at: Engagement - comments, links, trackbacks Attention - amount of buzz, time on site, frequency of mentions Sentiment - positive, negative or neutral Sales/ Leads - Is the cost-per-customer dropping Traffic - are you grabbing more eyes over time? It's about turning the numbers, followers and comments you're receiving in a story that people can understand. Interaction is good, but what does that interaction mean?

Visit Danny Flamberg's blog
Danny Flamberg
Juice Pharma Worldwide
Manhattan Marketing Maven
It depends on how social media is deployed. If its as a branding tool, then the measure is awareness, brand preference and intent to buy. If its used as a lead gen instrument, then qualified leads and cost per lead and cost per sale are the operative metrics. If its an eCommerce play number of units sold and profit per customer become the scoring memes.

Visit Jacob Morgan's blog
Jacob Morgan
Chess Media Group
Social Media Globetrotter
There should be no mystery behind ROI. ROI is: (gain from investment - cost of investment) / (cost of investment) and is a financial metric, meaning it deals with dollars and cents. If you are looking at metrics that do not involve $ then you are no longer looking at ROI you are looking at Impact, and we need to distinguish between the two. You can't put dollars in on one side and get eyeballs out on the other, the currency is not variable. What goes in must come out. The "mystery" comes into play when we start confusing ROI and Impact and start interchanging variable's that don't go together.

Visit Paul Dunay's blog
Paul Dunay
Buzz Marketing For Technology
I still feel there is only one metric that counts – SALES. Ringing the cash register is the best if not the only way to prove marketing value. And our lead nurturing platform has been immensely helpful in giving transparency into that process and showing that value. I think you need to revisit your metrics and think of them in 3 tiers: 1) Reach metrics – Web site impressions, page views, radio impressions etc… 2) Efficiency metrics – Cost per click, time spent on the website, downloads of a paper or podcast etc. 3) Value – Contribution to Pipeline, contribution to Bookings, ROI on overall bookings.

Visit Kirsti Scott's blog
Kirsti Scott
Scott Design Inc
Hot Design Blog
Follower/Fan counts, number of interactions, subscribers.

Visit Janet Fouts's blog
Janet Fouts
Tatu Digital Media
Tatu Digital Media
They need to set benchmarks based on the goals -not the tools.

Visit Susan Payton's blog
Susan Payton
Egg Marketing & Public Relations
The Marketing Eggspert Blog
Web traffic, conversion, new followers on Twitter and Facebook. It's about brand recognition more often than actual sales.

Visit Jay Baer's blog
Jay Baer
Convince & Convert
True "ROI" requires revenue calculation and attribution. That's complex, and it takes time. Most marketers are still tracking non-financial, trending benchmarks like Web traffic and numbers of fans and friends. You should be tracking these metrics, but don't confuse them with ROI.

Visit Ann Handley's blog
Ann Handley
MarketingProfs Daily Fix
The first step is figuring out your social media strategy -- in other words, what are you doing there? What do you hope to accomplish? It's a lot easier to measure your success (or lack thereof) once you figure out objectives.

Visit Greg Finn's blog
Greg Finn
depends on your goals. If looking for branding, go off of sentiment, if buzz, then look for links/mentions ..etc

Visit Donna Maria's blog
Donna Maria
Indie Business Media
The Media Is You
Social Media ROI is mysterious because everyone is looking for a "one-size-fits-all" definition for it, and there is no such thing. While there's no room here for detail, the bottom line is that, once you know what you personally are trying to accomplish, through persistent and focused use of social media tools, you will know what works and what does not work to achieve your goals. Repeat what works and ditch the rest.

Visit John Haydon 's blog
John Haydon
Inbound Zombie, Inc.
Social media marketing strategy for non-profits
Any benchmark that measures how much customers talk about a brand.

Visit Sharlyn Lauby's blog
Sharlyn Lauby
ITM Group, Inc.
HR Bartender
I believe that social media ROI is no different than any other kind of ROI. Any time you create a strategy, you plan the action steps, you set goals and you measure outcomes. It is possible to measure outcomes with social media.

Visit Kelsey Childress's blog
Kelsey Childress
Awen Creative
The Social Robot
Definitely website statistic tracking like Google Analytics. Setting up filters and goals around social media markers can be a great way to determine whether or not your social media marketing strategy is working. Other benchmarks may include the number of Fans/Followers on Facebook and Twitter, Facebook page insights and interaction, and Facebook advertising metrics.

Visit Kevin Gibbons's blog
Kevin Gibbons
There are plenty of free tools to measure social media ROI, and a growing number of new applications which are worth testing out. However, the most important step is still to set goals for a social media campaign - without goals it's impossible to measure success. Common goals for a social media campaign include brand awareness, online reputation management and customer support, online traffic/visibility, generating both online and offline attention or media coverage, attracting inbound quality/natural links for SEO purposes, increasing readership and direct sales. Once you've defined the main goals of your campaign you can then look towards measuring success around this.

Visit Joel Postman's blog
Joel Postman
The benchmarks will have to match those metrics already applied to marketing programs, things like revenue, lead generation, customer acquisition, and awareness.

Visit Corvida Raven's blog
Corvida Raven
SheGeeks Blog
Marketers should be using everything they can think of that links to revenue generation. Press mentions, blog trackbacks, retweets and facebook shares, youtube video views, community sentiments, email campaign traffic and so much more. In all of this what they should be focusing on is "how can we improve these communities?"

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