During the social media monitoring training course that I hosted in London last Thursday with Marshall Sponder (@webmetricsguru), he suggested an interesting approach to the question of social media ROI.
In Marshall’s view there are essentially 4 levels of maturity which dictate the degree of ROI that you should expect to get out of social media:
- Social Media Monitoring – Listening to brand, product and industry mentions.
- Online Research – “Operationalising” your monitoring, so that you achieve measurable targets and results.
- Social Targeting – Using social CRM and targeting to develop stronger relationships with your customers.
- Social Business Collaboration – Mapping this knowledge across your organisation to streamline processes and maximise benefits.
Each of these levels denotes a step forward in maturity, and the more mature your business is, the greater the ROI you’re likely to achieve from your activities – as indicated in the simplified graph above. This seems to offer a very sensible solution to a very tricky question. It might also help several million hard-pressed Marketing Managers who can now point to this list and say: “we’re only level two. No wonder we didn’t hit the jackpot”.
In addition to this, Marshall offered many more pearls of wisdom. He dismissed the counts of “social media mentions” that most monitoring tools use as the basis of their reporting, saying: “all mentions are not equal; a video is not the same as a blog post is not the same as a tweet!” When you think about it, this is obvious, but it’s amazing how many brands still monitor mentions as if they’re a homogenised unit of value.
He also suggested that companies that monitor without knowing exactly what they hope to achieve (i.e. specific targets) and what they’ll do about it if they do/don’t achieve such targets, are wasting their time. In other words, monitoring doesn’t work unless you go into it knowing clearly what you’re hoping to find out. This is certainly not the approach of the majority of companies – many of which sign contracts with dashboard vendors before they’ve got any idea what they’re hoping to achieve from using them.
It was a fascinating day for the 25 students who joined us – and we’re now planning to run more courses, both in the UK, US and perhaps elsewhere. If you’re interested in attending one of these, please contact us.