Amid all the chatter recently about ROI, one of the major themes is how the paramount goal for social media is driving more sales. It’s an idea based on the belief that if more revenue ain’t coming in the door, then it’s difficult to justify making a major investment in social media.
There are a few holes in this theory. First, social media is just one element of a company’s marketing/sales mix so putting the spotlight on social media without also scrutinizing other marketing and sales activity efforts is a mistake. Second, the focus on driving sales has much to do with the offensive side of social media but it deflects attention away from the important defensive role played by social media.
Say what? The defensive side of social media?
It’s not particularly sexy but social media is a crucial tool that helps companies deal with crisis issues, customer service, bad products, unhappy customers, upset investors and disgruntled employees. By participating in the social media ecosystem, companies can quickly discover and pro-actively deal with issues before they become major problems. In many cases, problems can turn into positive situations if a company responds in the right way.
But how do you measure the social media ROI for defense as opposed to offense? It is possible to measure the happiness of customers, employees and investors who have been engaged using social media? It’s clearly a much more challenge difficult to measure than sales but, arguably, it’s just as important.
In many respects, social media is like sports in which a good defense plays a key role in creating a good offense. It’s important to remember that social media isn’t all glitz and glam; there’s a lot of grunt work happening behind the scenes that’s defensive rather than offensive.
For more thoughts about social media ROI, check out this post by ReadWriteWeb.