Integration and Information: Proving Real Social Media ROI
Businesses and social media can work together like chocolate and peanut butter. It may not always seem like a fit at first, but when it clicks, it’s genius. However, the question of measuring ROI always arises. What can be measured in future sales against intangibles like the audience engagement and brand goodwill engendered through social media. But what if the answer lies in integration with social media tools?
American Express just made it work with Foursquare, and it might just illuminate the future of social media marketing. The deal is this: You go to a store, “check-in” on Foursquare, and get offered a surprise store special only redeemable by paying with AmEx and applied straight to your card. No fuss, no coupons, and a great incentive to “check-in” everywhere you go.
Amex and the vendors who sign on to the promotion gain measurable results in the dollar amounts spent by card users, who also tend to be a desirable demographic. Previous successful deals with large brands like Pepsi prove Foursquare may actually be worth their outsize $600 million valuation. If currently only 4% of adults are using location-based services, will such big name partnerships drive their adoption?
It can be hard to calculate the actual value of social media interactions, but people are trying. “Engagement” is a vague thing to define. If you can’t measure the results from profits, is the answer in the user demographics you can capture?
Companies are also signing up with Klout, a service that purports to measure a social media user’s influence. When you give perks to users who are ranked as being influential, you invest in their possibly going out to evangelize for you. This “social scoring” allows you to evaluate users as potential brand advocates. The ROI here comes from judging who and how far your campaign can reach through them. Users don’t have a choice in the matter, they’re being scored whether they like it or not.
Other companies are taking information existing on social media and monetizing it. Social Intelligence finds all your dirty social media secrets for clients like, say, your potential employers. They also keep these records for seven years. If they can capture your embarrassments, they can certainly capture demographic information as well.
Some predict a future of brands happily partnering with established and start-up social media platforms, hoping for the next slam-dunk, but others question if social media has any ROI at all. As we don’t yet know how to measure the brand equity gained by building a social media community, many go with what we do know how to measure. Cautious marketers are putting their money behind direct response campaigns and customer service opportunities to gauge social media’s worth. Some are settling on the idea that one Facebook page “Like” is worth 20 visits to your brand’s website (providing your content continues to capture their attention), but charting their conversion into your customer is still difficult to measure.
How do you start to measure your ROI? Which tools give you the best feedback?
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