Can You calculate the ROI for social media?

For nonprofit organizations social media is an amazing tool to use to promote their mission. These platforms have the ability to establish new relationships with potential supporters and strengthen/deepen the relationship with existing donors and volunteers. Another reason social media is so useful to nonprofits is that, for the most part, all of these sites are free. Organizations are able to spread information about themselves without any cost.

I am convinced the Internet has opened the door to some very useful tactics for Pubic Relations Practitioners especially for organizations running on a limited budget. But was is still in debate is whether you should, or if it even possible to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of social media.

Mark Schaefer, posted an article in full support of at least trying to measure the ROI. He cited four main reasons for why he felt measurement was necessary.

  1. There is an implied value for everything.
  2. If we are expanding human effort, it should be justified.
  3. If you’re not measuring how do you know you’re making progress?
  4. There is no excuse not to measure.

The main arguments against measuring the ROI is that there is no definitive way of measuring social media output. Take facebook for example. You can measure how many “likes” a post gets and how many followers you have. Facebook will even analyze your company’s data for you but how do you measure if anyone has really been effected by what you post. It is so easy for someone to like a page and then hide it from their news feed and never see it again.

With social media you are measuring feedback that isn’t so measurable so it’s easy to see why so many media professionals, both the experienced and greener professionals are hesitant to want to measure social media.

Personally I don’t see why you wouldn’t at least keep track of some type of measurement. How many “likes” you get is some kind of indicator of what people rally do like. So why not compare your posts over the last month and see what type of thing people want to hear about. The more comments on your blog means the more stimulating the post. Why wouldn’t you go back through and see which blog posts generated the most action.

Just like social media itself, measuring the ROI is an equally important and cost friendly tools that nonprofits must take advantage of. Even if the measurement is not as meaningful as the measurement of other PR tactics companies need some sort of base to guide their efforts. They need to know what seems to be working and when to re-strategize especially when budgets are tight. Why waste your time on efforts that don’t help or are possibly harming your organization?

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