Corporate Social Media: What’s the ROI?

Discussions on corporate social media often revolve around the importance of engaging in a conversation, the participation marketing ethos, etc. However, we all know that businesses blog and create social media campaigns to market themselvesand make money.

Lots of marketing folks like to talk about Southwest Airlines’ fantastic blog. Fewer mention the $150 million in ticket sales Southwest has garnered from its widget, part of its social media mix. Guess which of these two tactics management cares more about? Yes, it’s all integrated, but business social media campaigns have a purpose, whether that’s PR and branding or sales.

scales The participation ethos should be mandatory for all businesses. But ultimately, businesses care about the return on investment (ROI) from the conversation. Otherwise they won’t bother participating.

I know my client Goodwill of Greater Washington loves its blog, and the dialogue it has created with the vintage industry. It also really appreciates the more than 700 unique visitors the three-month old blog receives weekly and its shopper conversion rate of 4.5%.

The discussion on corporate social media needs to be more than just ethics and conversation methods (vlog, podcast, etc.). In many ways, these represent the rules of engagement and forms of interaction, respectively.

What companies care about is measurement. Whether that’s SEO, impressions, transactions, change in brand perception and/or resulting PR opportunities. Businesses will demand results that are planned for, not coincidental by-products of a conversation.

This is the great challenge for marketing departments and social media consultants. Finding ways to build campaigns that deliver planned-for, measurable results that positively impact the organization.