Why Doesn’t the ROI Question Apply to Social Media?
Remember in the mid-1980s the Wendy’s commercial in which an elderly, albeit funny, old woman asked, “Where’s the beef?” The joke was that the hamburgers at all of these joints were tiny, except for Wendy’s hamburger. But the old woman (Clara Peller was her name, for you Trivial Pursuit nuts) would continue to walk into to fast-food chain after fast-food chain asking, “Where’s the beef?” When I think back on this memorable commercial I relate it straight to the channel. (Yes, I do need to work on getting a real life.)
Here’s why: I’ve met with and spoken to many CIOs, IT decisionmakers, IT directors and line-of-business managers and with every — and I mean every — technology recommendation and deployment they are involved with, there has to be a return on investment (ROI) formula, plan or something. No exceptions. Need to upgrade your CRM system? What is the ROI and when will it be realized? Want to migrate your data centers to a virtualized environment? What are the efficiencies and how long will it take? How about embracing managed services such as printing — what are the productivity gains and maintenance savings? And if the ROI is not attractive enough, guess what? The initiative does not move forward.
Here is where solution providers are the most vital. It is the job of the solution providers to help make the ROI case. But why doesn’t this seem to apply, in most cases, to social media efforts?
I had the pleasure of moderating two panels during the past two weeks, both focusing on the power of social media and other digital communications tools. One was targeted to life insurance sellers and the other to lawyers. No jokes, please. The main point was to raise awareness of the digital tools at their disposal and how social media outlets can effectively help them do that.
But again, both conversations primarily dealt with the importance of awareness, interaction and regularity. Experts were pushing the audiences to get more involved with Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter and to separate personal from professional efforts. Now this is all well and good but again, where is the ROI discussion?
I am all for embracing social media outlets. Heck, I even get some lunch money for doing so. However, when it comes to any corporate initiative, organizations must look at their social media strategies the same way they look at any other rollout. Here is where solution providers can be a big influence and help their customers tie their digital social efforts into their CRM systems to create better sales leads, segment their marketing efforts and create more personalized campaigns aimed at their most engaged users.
While branding is important, social media needs to be about the data. Plain and simple. What data is being communicated, collected and curated? And if it’s not collected correctly, if it’s not stored securely, if it’s not searchable, and if it’s not “actionable,” then it’s useless. Solution providers must get deep within their customers’ businesses and help develop social media strategies that align with their corporate marketing and generate sales. They need to be able to answer the question, “Where’s the ROI?”
Knock em alive.