Sasquatch and the ROI of Social Media

I’m watch something funny beginning to develop in an area that once thought it was unlike anything before it. The questioning of: What is this whole “Social Media” thing worth in actual dollar terms to my business and how exactly can I quantify it? All I can say is the more things change the more they stay the same.

I have heard and seen some very well-respected people in the field of “Social Media” giving advice or heralding its virtues of late having what I might call odd answers to a very simple question. “What is my expected return on investment?” Suddenly the answers start resembling a discussion on whether Sasquatch exists or not. People say they’ve seen footprints or some will point to documentaries they’ve seen on the internet as credence, but yet it still seems no one is able to quantify a specific marketing strategy using the medium. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying social media has no value. That would be nuts. What I am saying is that the medium itself is getting large enough and old enough to begin to have strategies on money spent and where. After all, this medium is built on the greatest quantifying platform ever known to exist. You can’t click on anything without it being calculated somewhere.

Was it not just a short time ago one of the main reasons touted by some of the clarion callers were that the old modes of advertising were over because they sold sizzle and no steak? I remember listening to one such person as he lambasted a company on paying for a Super Bowl® commercial. The rant was based on “How will you ever know who saw it and actually went out and bought?” Well I’m starting to see that same behavior play out when companies start asking things like: “What is the average add click-through or abandon rate per platform?” Oh I can hear the call of the Yeti from here. I heard one respected voice state “What’s the ROI of your mother?” Although I personally understand the point he was trying to make, media buyers or companies are trying to make million dollar decisions in ad budgets, and they just might not feel comfortable giving their family member millions either in a “See what you can do with this.” scenario.

There are all types of strategies that will work for some, yet not work for others. Telephones were all the rage for cold calling till they weren’t. Fax machines were next than that was old news. Email was it, then banner ads, then websites or blogs. Now its “Social Media.” That doesn’t mean to say its going away or not going to grow exponentially larger. What it means is that in an ever-increasing world where every dollar counts, and nearly every action is quantifiable, the only thing that will be allowed to remain elusive in the years ahead might be our friend in the woods.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr, All Rights Reserved