All anyone wants to hear about (in the corporate world at least) is the ROI of using social media. “What is the ROI?” must be uttered more than banal phrases like, what is for dinner? or where are my keys? these days. The trouble is, when trying to answer that question, the results often leave the statistic-needy decidedly disappointed.
To respond to this need for metrics, there are a ton of paid and non-paid monitoring tools that have cropped up that are easy to understand and use and provide interesting up-to-the-minute data for those who are required to report on the value of their company’s social media investment. (I’ll just talk about a few free ones as I know small-business likes free!) I like Trendistic because it gives a nice visual graph that you can bring up in a presentation and use as a ‘live’ talking point. Social Mention has been around for a while (in tech time that is) and is handy when you want a quick snapshot of conversation around your brand. You can also sign up for Social Mention alerts which is great to add to your Google alerts in particular when you are measuring a social campaign. Netvibes is a handy monitoring dashboard that you can pull up at any time for a snapshot of what is happening with your company on any of the big search engines and through all the social channels. Technorati search is helpful for listening and monitoring what people are writing and conversing about in relation to your product, service, brand, or campaign. It’s a worthwhile effort to drill down into what is rating high in Technorati that relates to your subject. Omgilli is another good listening one, particularly if you are managing a community, growing your networks, or launching a campaign over a period of time. It can be a bit on the techy side in that you have to invest some time drilling down into conversations, but I like it as a passive tool for monitoring over a specific range of a campaign.
However, I want to stop here and say one thing: monitoring your brand to prove the ROI of your social media efforts is less important than monitoring your ROE. What is ROE you ask? Return on Experience. The social web, viewed from a business lens, is not about how many hits you got, or followers, or pings, or how popular you are on any number of these monitoring tools. Your brand is about the customer experience. It sits firmly in the mind of your customer.
What companies are missing in their fervour to secure stats for social media is the sentiment of what the customer is saying, the nuances of their feedback, the subtle tones of their replies, and their sometimes not-so-discreet calling out of poor business practices on social platforms. Companies that think they can just sign up for these tools and they’re good to go will epically fail in web 3.0.
ROE is way beyond engagement–it’s about letting customers be entrepreneurs within your business, allowing for user input, user design, user choice–which then funnels into the positive experience they have with your unique product or service and creates compelling ROE. This terrifies old school corporate and on some levels it should. Because we haven’t caught up to the speed of customer experience. Senior management is still questioning the value of the social web as customers fly past the boardrooms straight to start-ups that will collaborate with them to suit their needs.
ROE is the new ROI. What is the return on your customers experience and how are you measuring it?
*Image courtesy of CC, http://www.flickr.com/photos/intersectionconsulting/