Breaking Down The Idea of ROI in Social Media

Jason mKey from Sparkplug Digital wrote an excellent review of Olivier Blanchard’s first book, Social Media ROI. With over 67,000 tweets and years of blog posts at The Brand Builder, Blanchard clearly believes in the value of social media and his book can help you present a strong case for using social media in business.

social media ROI bookIn his new book, Social Media ROI, Olivier Blanchard attempts to demystify the biggest question that sits on top of the minds of many business managers: what exactly is the ROI of social media? And more importantly, why should my business be using social media and how do we justify the investment? Blanchard, a frequent speaker on the topic, comes from a marketing and brand management background and is best known for his BrandBuilder blog.

Social media success doesn’t happen by accident.

In the first chapter of Social Media ROI, Blanchard gives us a refresher course on what social business is and why it’s important. Unlike many drab social media books (and there are plenty of them) the information presented here is well received and there’s a level of depth in the given examples that’s just not present in other books. The amount of detail presented throughout is a pleasant surprise.

The wide scope of social business

Later on in the book Blanchard dissects how social media can help sales, customer service, PR, and other specific areas of business. Real world examples of setting up KPI’s, establishing goals, and tracking progress are made. It’s easy to talk about these subjects, but I like how the author took the extra step to show us how it’s done. The fourth section of the book in particular, on measurement, is extremely detailed. Emphasis is placed on discovering the difference between what can be measured and what should be measured and what a financial and non-financial outcome looks like.

Defining ROI

The reason why many will and should pick up this book is for the section that defines exactly what ROI is and what it isn’t. ROI is simply a financial calculation, no more and no less. The problem with social media ROI is that we often get caught up trying to define it as something more than a business metric. ROI isn’t relationships or influence or anything that falls outside the realm of hard financial numbers.

Blanchard explains how ROI can’t be tracked until the return (the R) has been yielded. Here’s a quote directly from the book:

“If an executive asks you to predict the ROI of your program before you have even put it into play, before it has begun to yield results, consider it to be a trick question.”

The social media ROI question isn’t going to dissapear and it’s ever important to grasp what it really is, when it’s an appropriate part of the discussion, and the role it has in business moving forward (especially in the eyes of top tier decision makers). This is a great read for those looking for answers and clarity on the topic. Social Media ROI lives up to high expectations and is as thorough, if not more, than any other book on the topic.

Jason mKey is the senior manager of social media marketing at Sparkplug Digital, a Seattle marketing firm providing SEO, PPC, and social media campaigns.