Within the business world, it’s all about the return on investment, or ROI.
The reality, however, is social media isn’t like other business efforts that can be easily measured because there are hard and soft metrics that can be used to determine success.
The situation is even more complicated by another truism: success can be anything you want it to be.
If the goal is getting the CEO mentioned more often within business blogs, and this happens, then social media can be described as a success.
The same goes for other goals such as a stronger brand, better customer service, higher sales, improved relations with customers, employees and partners, or a bigger digital presence than competitors.
Some of these goals can be easily measured, while others are more abstract. As well, success can be impacted by marketing or sales campaigns happening at the same time. For example, increased sales may be buoyed by social media but also boosted by an aggressive discount campaign.
This means determining social media success can be a challenge, which means calculating ROI can be elusive. At the end of the day, social media success can be determined by taking into account a variety of factors within the context of a company’s overall performance.
If some respects, social media success is a subjective exercise. This will not make the bean counters particularly happy because it doesn’t fit nicely within a spreadsheet, but companies that believe in social media will have faith that social media is contributing to the top and bottom lines.