Business Insider Social Media Analytics – It’s the Money, Stupid: Getting Real ROI Out of Social Media

Adam Penenberg, Professor & Assistant Director, Business & Economic Program, NYU (moderator)

Jason Goldberg, Co-founder & CEO,

Christina Warren, Entertainment Editor, Mashable

Jason John, Senior Director of Marketing, Gilt Groupe

Seneca Mudd, Director of Industry Imitatives, IAB

Warren believes that it’s difficult to determine an ROI from social media, frankly, because the data just isn’t that good.  There isn’t even an agreement on what social media is: is it a channel, is it a platform, or is it a layer?  Mudd believes that social is a behavior.


Where people come from online affects what they share.  Facebook is a critical source of traffic, Goldberg notes., for example gets 10% of its daily traffic from Facebook shares, whereas other sites like Twitter rarely exceed 1%.  While their daily e-mails generate 70% of the site traffic, the sharing behavior from e-mail is not as frictionless as Facebook and Twitter sharing.  Customers generally share content from e-mails only when they first sign up for the site, while they share through social media channels on a daily basis.


From the agency side, according to Mudd, there are too few solutions in the market to direct spending and action.  Consumers, publishers, and advertisers all have very different use cases, so it’s critical to have an umbrella of solutions that satisfy these audiences.  It’s critical, in measuring ROI, to define and follow a goal for a social campaign, Warren explains.  Strategies and metrics vary according to the vehicle of the campaign, Mudd notes.  In determining the ROI of a Facebook Like, for example, marketers can leverage knowledge on more traditional word of mouth strategies.


Data is everything, according to Goldberg; if you can’t measure it, it may as well have never happened.  You can’t force a social media ROI, but you can create content that leverages word-of-mouth by encouraging sharing.  John understands that this strategy has to be organic and focus on the passion points of a targeted community.  The best solutions are rooted in authenticity, according to Mudd.  Consumers are the best editors of content, especially in terms of what will drive their engagement.

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