The struggle to justify investment of time and money in B2B Social Media is clearly shared by many who can see the opportunities and necessity to engage with potential and current customers within their trusted environments.
A key element of the challenge to persuade those who control the budgets needed to invest in these activities is caused by where responsibility or the drive to utilise this medium is often placed. In many organisations Social Media strategy and projects sit within on-line marketing or technical development. Often those involved in social media are being asked to show how their activities are directly generating leads, let alone the challenge of demonstrating page views of replies someone focusing on social media has posted to other peoples blog posts – and therefore have no visibility of page views. Social Media in a B2B environment does not work in such a simplistic way.
If Social Media activity was driven by PR would the method for measurement be different? Many companies monitor blogs and engage with influential bloggers, is this not what PR teams have done for years with influential journalists?
With a number of bloggers having as many if not more readers than many journalists should more effort be focused on engaging with them? When a press release is issued if it is posted on a microblog and then receives coverage how do you measure who was responsible for what elements of any success?
I am enthused by the amount of chatter about Return On Attention (ROA) and Return on Relationship (ROR) that I hear from Social Media proffesionals and on the internet. Measuring ROI for Social Media should be an evolution of what was used to measure the success of PR together with, where possible; measurements of page, audio or video views, followers or fans, buzz on blogs and microblogs, coverage including links back on other sites and details of the sites that embed your content in theirs where quality is worth far more than quantity.
What is difficult to measure is what will happen to orgaisations that do not engage in Social Media. Those who do not will pay a price when they have to attempt to catch up with those who had the vision early on to invest in Social Media.
The other key consideration is that if you do not invest in social media and utilise it to engage with current and potential customers somebody else may on your behalf. How much could that cost you.
In a rapidly evolving medium, developing Social Media strategies and measuring Social Media is challenging and like the medium itself time consuming, though we have to do and work out what works best for both the engagement and the measurement.
A Twitter conversation about measuring B2B Social Media
When I started writing this post I added to twitter that I was writing it and within seconds was messaged by @briannranca here is the conversation:
@wellbelove attempting to write a blog on Social Media B2B ROI – not the easiest of tasks
@briannranca i personally think all talk of ROI specific to social media should be put on hold. still too early, but what can you do?
@wellbelove I agree, however trying to persuade those with budgets that we should engage in this activty without a ROI model aint happening
@briannranca yeah, unfortunately that’s the world we live in…it’s all about the numbers
I agree with Brian regarding it being too early to agree a measurement for a B2B ROI model for Social Media and those of us championing the opportunities that social media offers organisations to engage with their audience need to discuss more the ‘do nothing’ or ‘do nothing till we have to’ scenarios – and the enormous risks that these involve.