Eating a Hot Potato: The ROI of Social Media

When it comes to Social Media, determining and measuring (or not) the ROI of a campaign is and always has been a hot topic. Let us face it: you CAN (and must) measure the financial outcome from anything. Does that stop the ongoing conversation? No.

Olivier Blanchard recently gave a great presentation at Social Fresh conference, while Jason Falls is advocating a panel on the subject during the next South by Southwest Interactive. And so on. Discussions seem to be endless, and often pointless: every business leader is able to measure sales increase, better brand recognition, number of transformed leads, time to market reduction,… Underlining the fact that talking about immaterial assets like customers’ loyalty or brand advocacy is irrelevant won’t keep people from arguing. So there might be something else, isn’t it?

The answer is predictability. While traditional and digital media marketing have a predictable return rate, we are mostly unable to quantify the outcome of a social media campaign before getting into it. Marketing has become a process, and trusted predictability is part of process definition. As long as Nielsen and others are unable to assess N% financial outcome from a typical N months old Twitter account, we will be able to MEASURE ROI, but not to PREDICT it.

But, wait… Do you remember early days of email marketing and banners campaigns? It was a matter of trial and errors, times for experiments in the wild where we had to convince with only a few silly metrics in our hand. Times for starting small, measuring, starting over… Times for pioneers and adventurous marketers. Those times are back with Social Media.

And I just had one of these goofy 2.0 ideas. Why don’t we set up a wiki, Google doc, Ning community or whatever to share our results and measured ROIs? The more data and metrics we will have, the sooner we will be able to predict ROI for Social Media. And Web 2.0 is all about transparency, crowd sourcing, advocating and sharing, after all. We don’t need Nielsen any more. So, let us eat the potato, start measuring everything which is measurable, and take the future into our hands.

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3 Responses to Eating a Hot Potato: The ROI of Social Media

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Eating a Hot Potato: The ROI of Social Media | Sonnez en cas d'absence [] on

  2. Jon Husband says:

    Thierry, we seem to be tracking and thinking about many of the same things.

    Not Your Father’s ROI – Productivity in a Networked Era”

    • Thierry says:

      Jon, thank you for your insights. I do agree with your views about the needed changes in business, and needed changes in our way to look at it. I would be happy to exchange further with you on all these subjects.

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