Calculating Social Media ROI? Is it Possible?

There’s a lot of talk about how to measure the ROI of social media. For marketing campaigns, it can be captured easily enough: track people from exposure to sign-up or purchase or whatever the final goal is and then compare that against what the campaign cost.

However, for social media interactions without any predefined parameters of success, the ROI debate needn’t happen. For example, does anyone track the dollar value of a sales clerk who answers a customer question while they’re going about their primary job duties of stocking shelves, cleaning up, etc.? No, because answering customer questions is the price of doing business and its cost is baked into the clerk’s salary and job duties (as well as everyone else’s in the store).

Does higher ed look for a dollar value in a professor who spends 15 minutes to help a student with an assignment? Again, no because interacting with students is part of a professor’s job, not a separate “engagement” function that needs to be monetarily tracked. Working with students it’s part of the job and so the cost is included in the salary expense and the positive goodwill from the interaction is captured in the price of tuition. Given this, why do we feel the need to place a value on the professor’s “engagement” if the interaction takes place online instead of offline?

What’s missing from the conversation is that social media is part of everyone’s job who interacts with customers. “Social media” is one of many aspects to the clerk’s or professor’s assigned duties. It’s perfectly rational to think that they’d get paid the same regardless of whether engaging with customers (online or offline) was a defined part of their job or not.

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