BrainTrust Query: Dollars and Sentiments – The Real R.O.I. on Social Marketing
Commentary by Doug Stephens, President, Retail Prophet
Through a special arrangement,
presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail
Prophet Consulting blog.
Alice in Wonderland speaking to the Cheshire Cat…
tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
depends a good deal on where you want to get to” said the Cat.
don’t much care where –” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t
matter which way you go” said the Cat.
“– so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
sure to do that” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Like Alice, marketers often find themselves needing to “get somewhere” but
may not be precisely sure where that somewhere is. This has become
particularly true of social marketing efforts. With the fervor around social
media, marketers are feeling pressured to begin incorporating it into their
program but aren’t
quite sure how. In some cases, they’re not even completely sure why social
marketing matters so much – they just feel they ought to be doing it. So, like
Alice, they often set out in a direction, only to find that after considerable
time and effort, it got them nowhere.
In talking with marketers
I’ve come across three common pitfalls that,
from the beginning, can lead them astray.
Pitfall #1: Believing that all social marketing means creating social
While social marketing may involve social media, there’s
a fundamental misconception that all social marketing involves the development
of content – blogs,
videos, Facebook apps, etc. But depending on your company’s objectives,
you may never want or need to create your own content. The key lies in defining
what results you want from the program.
I like to think of social marketing
as a spectrum of engagement ranging from passive to active.
The objectives you target will directly affect the activities you undertake
and your engagement level.
Pitfall #2: Setting program objectives that aren’t
A head of marketing for a major regional shopping centre recently told
me her objective around social media was to generate foot traffic for the mall.”
This sounded like a reasonable objective but the problem is that the mall has
no empirical means of credibly measuring foot traffic.
The objectives you set
should meet three key criteria. They should support the overarching strategy
and positioning of your business. They should be credibly measurable. And
lastly, they should be meaningful to the people in your company that control
the financial and/or human resources you’ll
need to continue or expand your social marketing effort. After all, there’s
no glory in meeting an objective, if it doesn’t at least win you the
resources you need to continue your program.
Pitfall #3: Confusing social activity with return on investment
Part of what gives social marketing a bad rap is that too many marketers
simply measure and report the company’s social marketing activity –
that is, blog posts, YouTube videos, Tweets, etc. They also tend to confuse
return on investment with non-financial consumer responses, like blog subscriptions,
YouTube views, Re-tweets etc. The result can often be a nebulous set of metrics
that neither support nor negate the merits of their program. What they fail
to measure is the amount of sales, profit or cost-savings that the social marketing
program is (or isn’t) generating – the real return on investment.
of the problem is that we’ve been told that financial R.O.I on social
marketing can’t be measured – that it needs to be valued against
softer metrics – which is simply not true. A great Slideshare
presentation here from
Olivier Blanchard of The Brand Builder demonstrates an excellent methodology
for measuring financial R.O.I on your social marketing spend.
the “shiny tool” phase with social marketing
and the onus is back on marketers to show the return on their work in this
Discussion Questions: Do you believe that marketers can or should be held
accountable for demonstrating a monetary ROI on social marketing spend? What
are the common hurdles in attempting to do so?