Tezza Yujuico, Athena East (moderator)
Katie Delahaye Paine, KD Paine & Partners
Trey Pennington, Synthesio
Marshall Sponder, WebMetricsGuru.com
Alistair Wheate, Glide Technologies
Yujuico asked if social media ROI can be measured. Paine feels that it depends on the industry. It’s easy to demonstrate clear ROI for non-profits and consumer goods, but it’s more difficult for government or recruitment campaigns. Pennington notes that there is a distinction between ROI and value. The question of ROI, he feels, has created opportunities for companies to track actions and engagement, as there is now measurable data. Sponder, however, feels that we don’t have all the data or all the formulas to compute ROI. He believes that social media ROI is like “reverse ROI”. Unlike advertising and direct marketing, social media is based on savings, not revenue generation. Wheate asks whether social media is the “R” or the “I” in the conversation. Perhaps social media is the investment, and companied need to look at returns in other areas because of your activities in the social space. He believes that companies need to look at both inputs and outputs.
Yujuico reiterated the importance of setting goals before beginning to monitor. Paine believes that ROI often comes up in conversations only as an excuse not to embark on a strategy or as a reason to fire an agency. When asked whether boardrooms take social media ROI seriously. Because boardrooms are focused on financial matters, Pennington believes that social media managers need to tie social media engagement back to financial measures in order to win over the board. Wheate sees the challenge partly due to fact that the data isn’t “pure”. Often the answers that social media presents don’t match up to the questions that the board is asking. Paine noted that boards care about reputation as much as money, so boards will support social media and social media monitoring to maintain an image.
As Yujuico stated, just because it’s social media marketing, don’t throw out all the marketing techniques you’ve used for a decade. Paine noted that measurement isn’t easy, especially for those who aren’t used to quantitative analysis. Wheate reminded the audience that traditional PR and journalists are still contributing to the social media space.
Sponder, in response to an audience question about convergence and defragmentation, noted that social media managers need frameworks. In measurement, everything has to come together and fit just right. Wheate believes that social media monitoring is becoming a better proxy for market research as more people get online. Paine warned the audience that Twitter is not representative of the market as a whole, especially in geographic areas with few users.