I spend a significant portion of my day working with companies to identify how they can levergage social technology to achieve return on this investment (“ROI”). Clearly the ultimate goal, regardless of the industry, is to make the most money as efficiently as possible. With this logic, ROI is ultimately cut and dry - will this technology/media make me more money per dollar I spend on it than other technologies/media? What I have discovered over the course of the past couple of years is that it’s not a linear path to this most efficient added value. There are stepping stones. This is where defining ROI in social becomes an art over a science.
I know that investment in social media will yield more money per dollar spent that traditional media. Why is this? Because social data allows for greater relevance to the end customer than any other media. Not only can the subject matter by more relevant but the time and place that that message is delivered can be more appropriate. What does this mean now as the tie to the more efficient return is abstract - just what this post is titled - “Remember it’s Our Investment.”
Every company is at a different stage in it’s social marketing evolution (take a look at Nike’s #makeitcount campaign for the Nike+ Fuel Band - this would likely intimidate any company just getting their head around social). For some companies social investment is about audience growth, others have a huge audience already and it’s time to engage and drive that audience to act, and others are at point where they can more greatly leverage their most valuable audience assets. What’s important to remember when working with these companies, is to take a step back and ask them “What are your goals with social rightnow?” You can’t run before you walk - similarly in social, you can’t achieve the final goal without first achieving success in the intermediate steps.
Identify a few things to do right, invest in them with clear success metrics established, and achieve them. Trying to accomplish too many things spreads your resources thin and makes success less tangible. Proven success also leads to greater investment in future initiatives and provides a solid foundation for growth.