Putting Value on the Priceless

I thought that half of the readings this week were trying to force a number onto something that couldn’t necessarily be computed. The other half was like a story that found its footing at the end and turned in two of my favorite articles of the semester. As a storyteller, it will be my job of telling you the “facts” of the supposed monetary value of social media first before I dive into the longstanding effects social media on your personal life.

Mashable basically told me that in order to gain measurable return on investment or ROI, you need to be personable and interact with the audience. It’s a concept that’s basically been beaten to death in the last 10+ weeks, if you don’t please your audience, your product suffers. Also being fake and not having great content hinders your ability to sell. Tell me something I don’t know yet. I feel like what they are doing with this article is just recapping everything we’ve learned into one compact place and it didn’t really have an effect or give me an epiphany moment. If this were the story’s introduction, I would have stopped reading already.

Sales Force Marketing Cloud wrote an article that could have easily been titled “Social Media Fundraising 101” because knowing what I know now from my time in this program, I could’ve deduced all of those tips if I wanted to create a fundraising campaign. These tips can also be handy when running a business, so I don’t necessarily think that it needed to be just about fundraising. I was looking for something to jump out at me and convince me that there’s something unique about this approach, but there wasn’t. Now that I think about it, the article could have been titled “How to Market Anything You Want Using Social Media”, because these tips should come into play 100% of the time.

Now for the more redeemable conclusion to ROI story, there’s no singular way to do it says Raven Tools. I swear Courtney Seiter, who wrote this article, went into my brain pulled out exactly what I wanted to say about ROI. Don’t set impossible goals or try to do math that makes your head hurt. Do what you do best on social media and the results will please you. I completely understand and agree with her stance that as journalists we need the answers. But as a critic, where I come up with my own answers and nobody else’s, this notion of do what you do best really speaks to me. E!, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone are three of my favorite brands, but all of them have completely different approaches to social media and they’re all successful. Everyone has a different voice and personality and shouldn’t be told that they have to do it one way to excel.

My other favorite article this week, for completely different reasons, was The Atlantic’s piece on how social media is helping, not hurting, the most important investment of all which is the human relationship. I want to show this to all the naysayers of social media, shake them and tell them to join this century. Playing devil’s advocate here, I hate when you’re trying to have a face-to-face conversation and they can’t put the phone down. But, that’s just one instance where I don’t think social media benefits a person in the long run. There are few occasions where I outwardly pimp my brand, the Social Roller, or use my disability to prove a point, but when other people do that for me, it makes me happy. I would not be getting a master’s degree right now if it weren’t for social media. I think being able to use Facebook and Twitter (among others) can help me become a better journalist and a better marketer because it gives me the access to human contact that I sometimes rarely get without the help of my parents or city transportation. Social media helped me immensely when I was in the hospital for several weeks unable to attend school, I would have gone crazy without it. In short, social media is my life saver and no amount of money can come close to the ROI I have received in being an active social media user.

What are your thoughts on social media ROI: can it be calculated and should it be calculated?

Did you learn anything new or helpful about ROI in the articles by Mashable or Sales Force Marketing Cloud?



8 thoughts on “Putting Value on the Priceless

  1. Hey Steven,
    I too didn’t get anything really new from the Mashable or Salesforce articles. They made good points, but kind of just reiterated what we already knew. When it comes to social media ROI, some results can be calculated (like how many links you get from a link on Twitter or how many more likes you get thanks to a Facebook ad), yet some things cannot be measured. Your post may have brightened someone’s day, and you’ll never see that on a spreadsheet. Since social media is yet another way that humans (customers) connect, it’s important for marketers to follow suit.

    • Thanks for the comment Amanda. It’s frustrating how people want to always put a value on something and give up if it can’t be calculated. I tend to think the impact your post has on someone’s life is greater than how many sales you make off of it. Yet that can’t be calculated so it’s deemed less important.

  2. Hi Steven! I’m glad my article resonated with you. Sorry about stealing from your brain, though. πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you for the comment Courtney! You just gave me some bragging rights for my class. You can steal from my brain anytime if you keep writing excellent articles like that. πŸ˜‰

  3. I agree that this week’s readings were just reiterating what we already have learned. I think for the the biggest way to see ROI is through sales driven through a specific campaign (ie a promotion, etc).

    • Thanks for the comment Lesley. Sales might be the biggest measurable way to see ROI, but what about charities that are non-profit and don’t see sales? That’s my biggest problem with ROI, is that if it can’t be measured people just write it off. But sales to me are not the only way to see ROI and I’m OK with there not being an exact number for it.

  4. Steven,

    I think I have to disagree with you about measuring returns on social media. Although great content and trying hard will get you somewhere I do not agree it will always bring success. E News and Rolling Stone are established brands that utilized their previous success to succeed online. I am sure that both organizations demand to see results for the money invested. If you are seeking answers, ROI is a type of an answer. I feel like a lot of animosity of putting value on something is that it deals with math and is an incredibly complex question.

  5. Thanks for the comment Janis. I never actually said that hard work always brings success. I meant that if you do what you do best and get results, no matter how large or small, that should satisfy you. That is because people are responding to who you really are not who everyone else wants you to be, which is my interpretation of the articles. The brands I mentioned are examples of brands that translated their offline success into success in social media, but not every notable brand has a successful presence on social media. Just having the recognition doesn’t automatically mean you achieve success on social, you have to put in the work and those brands have. Like I said in an earlier comment, ROI by measuring numbers is one type of answer, but it’s not the only answer. The animosity, for me at least, isn’t that it’s complex and deals with math, it’s that there are things that could be considered ROI, but most are written off because they cannot be measured with numbers.

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