Social ROI Isn’t a Real Problem

If you ask most brand managers what the biggest issues in social media are, they’ll likely reply that it’s the channel’s lack of ROI. But Nissan’s social media chief, Erich Marx, says that social media does not have an ROI problem. It’s the brands that have a social media ROI problem.

So, does social media even have an ROI problem?
No. I think it is brands that have a social media ROI problem.  In fact, I argue there is a COI for social media; a cost of ignoring. Social media is here. It’s real. And it has become the preferred way for (many) people to engage with their favorite brands.  Ignore this reality at one’s own risk. It’s not a matter of if a brand should integrate social media into its marketing plans. It’s a matter of how and how much? As with most things, moderation is key. The social space is still being defined and a certain level of maturity is needed before a significant percentage of a brand’s marketing budget should be allocated to this, or any, emerging channel.

What’s the biggest challenge to measuring social ROI? 
The biggest challenge is an unclear consensus in most organizations as to what result social should drive. Should social media drive sales? Should social drive loyalty?  Should social drive engagement and advocacy? Or is it enough for social to simply supplement reach? Until there is agreement organizationally on what the social goal is, and what is ultimately most important, measurement of ROI that has any meaning will be a struggle.

Can PR compete with digital agencies?  
Public relations can be highly competitive in the social space because they deal day-in, day-out with sense of news value and know how to generate and leverage truly organic material.

What are brands getting wrong in social?
Brands need to understand that social is more about interaction, not transaction.  Brands that try to control the message, control the dialogue and sell too hard will ultimately fail to engage at any real scale in the social space. Building advocacy across a growing fan base should be the goal and it takes patience and a long-term perspective.

How is social media changing the role of the agency? 
For Nissan, the advent of social media hasn’t changed the role of the agency (we still rely greatly on our agency partners for insights and expertise across varied functions) so much as it has changed the way our agencies think about how best to reach an audience with a desired message. Social is becoming a piece of the puzzle at every step of the strategic and creative process.

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