On ROI… a rant

Published 6 years ago in Social Media Marketing - 13 Comments

Q: I’m getting a lot of pushback recently regarding ROI and the amount of time it takes to see it.  What do you normally say to that?  The client we discussed has and issue with that, too.

kbj: We’re talking about relationship building here. Has the client ever asked someone to marry them on the first date?  Their date would think that’s ridiculous! They also probably don’t appreciate people on the street passing out flyers, right? You have a split-second of meeting them and already, they are selling to you!

It’s the same thing with social media. You have be smarter and think longer term.  If the client can’t wait, then they shouldn’t be in business at all – in my opinion.

It’s about building relationships and that takes time, online or off just plain and simple…

This isn’t everything I have to say about this conversation, but it is my most immediate reaction (read: rant). There is so much more to social media than ROI, not that there shouldn’t be any… but you have to focus on the other parts FIRST to actually get the ROI.


What are your thoughts? What is your response to this kind of push back?


Keri Andino - 6 years ago Reply

Oh so good @KateBuck! An actual ‘person’ or ‘business’ is behind a Facebook Like,Twitter Follow or LinkedIn Connection.. we can’t treat them as a number to be analytically analyzed and crunched..We need to educate and assist other’s in wrapping their minds around the fact that it’s a relationship and it takes time.. just like face-to-face networking does! Get Real, Be Social, Have Fun, Live out Loud.. Authentically! Let’s Go Be Awesome! @Kndino:twitter

Sandra Galeana - 6 years ago Reply

Lets face it, when you spend money for advertisement or what not You want a great ROI. As a retail business owner, I understand the need to be seen and be seen fast. It is hard to justify spending money when you are not seeing a ROI, especially when money is short. Basically what helps is explaining to the client that Social Media is not a short term investment. This isn’t one advertisement and then it is over. This is a long term commitment to the public and to the fans. A one time advertisemnt leads the public to forget you later, Social Media platforms and campaigns allow the public to see your company/business every day. With engagement and fun contests, you could have a huge fan base, but you have to gain the trust and intrest of your market, and that takes time. Usually at this point I share with the client how to increase their fanbase on their social Media platforms and show how word of mouth will give them an ROI, because that is basically what Social Media is, word of mouth.

Jay Rockman - 6 years ago Reply

Kate, great post. This is by far the most annoying, yet the most important problem to address before facing clients. When facing a marketing opportunity that will cost money, most businesses owners want to know the ROI and how fast it will be achieved. Every social media manager needs to be prepared to explain the process, starting with the foundational efforts, that will lead to a successful long-term social media strategy. It takes time, patience, but will pay off in the long run.

I wrote a post on this exact topic called “What Business Owners Really Want To Know…” on our @BizTooligans blog. Check it out here: http://ow.ly/4P6FR

Steve Walther - 6 years ago Reply

Well said… Calculating ROI from social media exposure is tricky at best unless you have a very specific call to action you’re evaluating, and I agree most business owners are only interested in seeing conversion to sales. It’s hard to break them from the traditional advertising mentality measuring cost against immediate sales… but social media is essentially giving them voice and reputation, which both impact consumer confidence in the brand, and filter into sales on the back end.

It’s all about building the brand recognition, online exposure, and image PROPERLY, and sales follow in my opinion.

OMZen - 6 years ago Reply

( A divergent view point! ) Why rant about social
media RoI ? I feel it’s a legitimate question that clients have full right to ask and should NOT be skirted away with a rant or an immeasurable tangent.

Why not instead write a post about solution ; be it tracking
first touch attribution -> last touch attribution in your Google analytics
or just tying up your conversion goals via advance segments for social media in
your GA?

Lastly, what’s your
take on the latest Forrester Research report declaring that “Social Isn’t
Helping Online Retailers Find Customers” http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/219588 ( hope you don’t give example of big brands like Dell, Old Spice, etc )

    Kate Buck - 6 years ago Reply

    it is a legitimate question, no doubt. But i don’t hear anyone asking about the ROI of their customer service reps, or their telephone bill.

    And of course, we provide reporting on campaigns (a more accurate reporting is through cookied links, actually) but I urge customers to first focus on the other more tangible short-term results. Unless you have an existing customer base of rabid, loyal fans, ROI is not short-term. That doesn’t mean social media isn’t a valid investment. Just like any good investment portfolio, you have short-term, long-term, high and low risk investments.

      BizGen Girl - 6 years ago Reply

      I bet businesses were asking about ROI from their telephone marketers when that business innovation was still new. lol. Can you imagine “when am I going to see results people bugging customers at dinner time?”.

      I feel that it’s more than a good topic to “rant” about, especially since it is a “blog” and not a book. The whole idea of blogs is to showcase your human-ness and let people get to know you a bit. I think the rant was a great way to show that even professionals (on both sides) get frustrated sometimes. 

      Many of us social networkers have found it to be a daunting task to translate “social media-ese” into a comprehendable business language. Even though it’s a totally legitimate question, it’s still tiresome to get it all down in a format that is understandable to non-social networkers. It’s like working at the dollar store and hearing at least 5 people everyday who ask “is everything really a dollar?”, or having someone order a Whopper from Mcdonalds… It happens, and in most cases we understad why, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

Ireland - 6 years ago Reply

I agree that it is all about building the relationship….over time. I have just read a recently released book that deals specifically with that issue. It’s called Destination Success..Marketing to Dominate your Competition

They lay out strategies that are right up the relationship alley. Check it out at amazon


Raylene Wall - 6 years ago Reply

From what I’m reading, ROI with social media just needs to be measured differently.  You and your client have to decide what your measurable performance indicators are.  Social Media may take longer to show results for actual sales, for instance, but if you have increased interactions with the public, more people following your updates on FB and twitter, in the end, the relationships built will result in more sales and more business. I’m really just getting started, and this is something I know I need to address with clients, so I’m paying close attention to this subject!
~ Raylene @ Off the Wall Social Media Management

Kate Buck - 6 years ago Reply

this is awesome!

Vik Gill - 6 years ago Reply

Kate, I agree there’s got to be an investment in time before you can show a return on investment of money. And that building engagement is a nuanced process, not an overnight success story. 

With that said though, I hope you’ll agree that Social Media ROI is something that is important to most commercial clients. If the CEO of a company is paying me $1400 per month to manage their social media presence, they’re quite rightly going to want to understand how that investment paid off as a preference to keeping their marketing spend where it was already doing quite nicely. I think social media managers need to learn not to be afraid of the numbers. Both soft and hard metrics have a place in any marketing strategy, and they’re not hard to compute (or to understand). One example is CLV (customer lifetime value) which gives companies a good idea of the kind of investment they should make to acquire each new customer. As long as you benchmark properly before you start services – and agree performance measures with clients at the contracting stage, it’s easy to track your efforts and their success. As you can’t manage what you can’t measure, doing this also helps you tweak your strategy as you go, and will give you an early heads up if something’s not working. In this regard, Google Analytics is a brilliant tool that no social media manager should ignore.  I suspect we’ll find that social media managers will only survive if they can learn to understand the key objectives of their clients’ CFO, and learn to show how they’ve achieved these through social media.

Socialmediaisascam - 6 years ago Reply

Why would a business want ROI when they could just pay someone to bullshit them? Looking forward to this well drying up so that uneducated morons wont screw over nieve business owners anymore…

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