By adaptive - April 8th, 2014

Well-defined metrics are the key to reliable statistics that relate to real-world gains

Social media by its nature is a moving target that many corporations still struggle to hit. These networks are unlike any marketing channel yet encountered. In practice, this has meant much head scratching when ROI is raised. Often, businesses misunderstand that a brute force approach to social media ROI misses the point of these networks, and what they actually deliver to corporations.

What began as a straightforward counting exercise with metrics simply being the sum of Facebook or Twitter followers, has become a much more complex equation with a number of parameters that are still being defined. Do we know the DNA of social media ROI? We can certainly see more than was possible even a short while ago, but many corporations still complain of seeing a fog of data that they struggle to bring into focus, but this is changing.

Commenting, Immediate Future says: “The number of fans and followers is unlikely to deliver the best indication of the real value of a brand’s social community. Instead, competitive benchmarking – even internally using past measurement results – will help businesses to understand and better their online performance.”

Companies are though, getting to grips with the masses of data that now flows into their organisations. Barclaycard for instance uses regular reporting to identify trends across the networks it is active upon. This identifies aspects of each social media network that is resonating with its brand. Brand owners are also pressing forward by developing dedicated social media teams, whose remit is far reaching and encompasses all relevant departments – not simply marketing or PR.

Barclaycard Report Mapping

In their recent report looking at customer engagement, Social Media Today with SAP said: “While there’s been significant improvement in areas like determining key performance indicators. The main obstacle continues to be figuring out how to optimally allocate resources. Well over 40% of respondents say this continues to be a serious impediment year-over-year.

“Resource allocation can take the form of people, team configuration, training, tools and financial investment. How companies determine resource allocation can determine how employees develop and implement processes and procedures when engaging customers, which also plays into how satisfied employees are with how things are going.”

What is clear is that ROI is a very different beast when associated with social media networks – something corporations have taken some time to realise. However, education has changed the perception of these networks and how they can be leveraged to deliver an ROI that is recognisable at board level.

Social media’s ROI is being refined across the corporate landscape, and a corner has definitely been recently turned. It’s up to corporations to continue to refine their use of social media, which will inevitably enable them to develop metrics and benchmarks that will give the measurable insights they crave.

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