A comment I received on my recent article on measuring the benefits of social media got me thinking. If I can’t track a positive ROI from the time investment in Social Media, is it still worth doing? After all, many of the potential benefits, such as word-of-mouth, would be so indirect they would be nearly impossible to tie back to the social media investment. But clearly they would be valuable even if I can’t measure them.
Since much of my marketing experience has been in venture funded tech companies, I’m very cognizant of where I allocate my team’s time and financial resources. A few bad decisions can easily cause a company to fold (most startups eventually do fail). Luckily there is more than one path that leads to success. Generally I try to stick to a path that consists of activities with very measurable benefits. Of course many of these activities have additional benefits that can’t be measured, but if I can track a positive ROI then the less tangible benefits are gravy. If an activity requires little investment risk, then gut feel is enough to keep doing it. But if there is risk, I want to measure the results.
An investment in social media can be very time consuming. Can we succeed without a large time investment in social media? Absolutely. Can social media be an important tool to help drive success? Probably. The only way to know for sure is to test it. If I can measure a good return from the time investment in social media, then it will definitely be a part of our marketing mix. If I can’t – it will have a minor role at best.