From the last post, we saw that some folks argue that Social Media ROI can NOT be calculated and some folks argue that Social Media ROI can be calculated. We argue that Social Media ROI can be calculated and we will put forth a few different ways of calculating the Social Media ROI.
First up is Forrester’s Social Media duo Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang. In 2007, Charlene and her team conducted a study on the ROI of blogging where they saw that it is fairly easy to calculate the ROI of blogging. They did not calculate the ROI of blogging directly. Instead, they calculated the value and the cost of key functions like advertisting, PR and word of mouth marketing of traditional media. They then transposed the value metrics to the blogging calculations and compared the cost between traditional media and social media based on the same values. The value and the cost of traditional media is well known so based on the same value but difference in cost, the ROI of blogging can easily be determined.
Charlene quotes an example: “FastLane has about 100 people commenting on the blog each month, which is equivalent to gaining customer insight on products and brands from a traditional focus group. We estimated that the value of this was equivalent to running a focus group every month at the cost of $15,000 a month, or $180,000 a year. Voila – there’s the value of the blogging benefit laid out in black and white.”
This method can be extended to the ROI of Social Media with similar results.
For better visualizion of the study, refer to Shwen Gwee’s slide deck called “Can Pharma Make a Business Case for Social Media.” The study slides start at slide 60.
So one way of measuring the Social Media ROI is by comparing the value and the cost of key metrics from traditional media with similar key metric from Social Media.
Another way of calculating the ROI is doing what Powered, a social marketing company, did. They asked the customer!
Powered is a social marketing company that builds managed online communities for their clients. The clients invite their customers in to the online communities for building stronger B2C relationships. The managed online communities “provide the benefits of social networking with engagement marketing, which result in a high conversion to product purchase, greater affinity for the brand and key insights into consumer behaviors.”
A research company, New Century Media (NCM) conducted a study of Powered’s social marketing programs. NCM asked customers questions in regards to purchase intent, brand affinity and brand loyalty, and then compared the results direct marketing and mass marketing.
Based on the NCM’s study, the Social Media ROI using Powered’s techniques where 60:1. This compares very favorable to direct marketing at 11:1 and mass marketing at 2:1 (download the report for Social Media ROI details and references – it is a great read).
The last comment is from Bill Johnston at Forum One. Bill has compiled a set of publicly available data that are related to Social Media ROI:
- Community users remain customers 50% longer than non-community users. (AT&T, 2002)
- Community users spend 54% more than non-community users (EBay, 2006)
- Community users visit nine times more often than non-community users (McKinsey, 2000).
- Community users have four times as many page views as non-community users (McKinsey, 2000).
- 56% percent of online community members log in once a day or more (Annenberg, 2007)
We have discussed a few ways of calculating the Social Media ROI; Charlene and Jeremiah compares value and cost of key metrics between traditional media and social media, while NCM simply asks the consumer and then compares the ROI with direct and mass marketing. Both cases lead to big advantages to social media over traditional media – and that does not include other online social media advantages like detailed measurements.
Comments is a fundamental part of social media, so do your social duty and add a comment with your thoughts.