Considering the Return on Investment for Social Analytics

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Post 5 of 5 in a series for Social Analytics

Calculating ROI – The return on investment for a social media analytics solution may be slightly ambiguous, similar to other business intelligence and Big Data initiatives. However, rest assured it is possible to calculate the value generated from these products as compared to their total cost of ownership. Let’s delve deeper into the calculation with an eye toward the people, time and expense required for this effort while keeping in mind the inherent risks.

These solutions may provide multiple capabilities, each with a tangible benefit to the company. When marketing within the social media channel, there is a need to measure activity. While many sites have their own metrics that are accessible at no additional cost to their customers, there is a cost to compile this information across sites and make it actionable within a company. Therefore, part of your calculation may account for the people and time required to aggregate the data from multiple social media sites and present it to selected audiences in a coherent fashion.

If your company is monitoring the market’s comments and corresponding sentiment about your company, brands and the competition, there may be an yet another staffing consideration to take into account.  Fine tuning of the algorithms that categorize data may be a cost. This aspect will be affected by data volumes as well as the flexibility and features of the selected solution.

Quantifying lead generation and the resulting sales may be the easiest way for a marketing executive to justify the overall cost of a solution path. Transforming lead data into actionable information may have a cost depending on the source of the leads and the complementary processes already in place. A calculation may need to consider incremental volumes, sources and any additional staffing.

Since a core component of social media is creating content and distributING it, there may be a resource cost to identifying influencers and formulating access to them whether it is performed in-house or by an agency. Tracking also may require a planned approach to tagging the related content for accurate measurement of results.

Industry and Company Specifics – Any company’s situation may present industry specific considerations. For instance, if a business has a response center, the solution may be able to monitor existing call, email or chat activity, funnel it into an inbox and analyze it similar to social media text. The sales and marketing capabilities of a business may present other options for managing data shared among sales people, value added resellers or distributors. These all present potential costs and data sources that may feed a social media analytics solution. It quickly becomes evident that the value for each company may be quite different even within the same industry.

A Marketer’s Perspective – Ultimately, a marketer must consider the total value created by the solution and quantify it based on today’s baseline and plans for change in the future. It may also be relevant to determine the value of the touch points along the path to a lead or sale, similar to an attribution model, when defining the value of a solution.

Ready for the Big Leagues – These social media analytics posts provide a sampling of what you should know about understanding, evaluating, selecting, implementing and managing a measurable social media program. Start with your marketing strategy and objectives to enable success for your organization. Diligently identifying the cost and value associated with this type of solution will keep you aligned with your strategic priorities.

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