Rant Time: Social Media ROI

It's been pretty quiet in here for a while now. That plus it's summer, it's Friday, and I'm enjoying the last few hours of quiet before my kids get home from being away for a week. What better time than now to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes: the blog rant.

Inspiring this week's rant is an event I went to this week: Buzz2010 featuring Olivier Blanchard speaking about Social Media ROI. The event and Olivier's presentation rocked. It was the first time I've seen someone put into association/not-for-profit (NFP) terms the whole business of social media ROI. My favorite points:
  1. Associations and NFPs are not like most businesses. FINALLY someone addressing this in the context of ROI--Amen.
  2. Sales is not one of the metrics to look at for association/NFP social media--outcomes is. "Outcomes" include stuff like new members, increased frequency of donations and volunteerism, and added exposure. Double amen.
  3. ROI is 100% media agnostic--only measuring social or digital won't get you anywhere. You can't evaluate social media in a vacuum--you evaluate it as part of a whole communications strategy--which means you also evaluate the rest of the strategy.
This is where the rant comes in. We should not be holding social media up to the light, examining the whole thing for cracks, wondering if it's worth the few dollars we're willing to throw at it. We should be holding the WHOLE THING up to the light and looking at it with an equally critical eye. Whole thing=PR, marketing and everything else that involves either dedicated staff or money. What are we getting out of EACH of those parts and are they worth it? The positions on the roster today--is each one still relevant? That mailing we just did--what was the ROI on that? That email campaign? Media buy? Etc.

But here's the thing: most associations are not doing that. It's like we inspect things one time and once they've been deemed worthy, they're in for good. Social media-even when it's "in" like in my case where there's a full-time position dedicated to it, is under constant scrutiny. I get that--I get that new things are like that. But I have to say: it's getting old. It's getting old to have to deal with "should we really be spending time doing this when there are no clear benefits?" at every turn--it really is.

Sorry--that was more of a whine than a rant--I think I'm done now.

Do yourself a favor and check out Olivier's presentation--or if you're like me and it's hard to get much out of just slides, purchase the recording--it's only $59 for all 3 Buzz2010 sessions. I don't usually hawk stuff on here but honestly, each of the Buzz2010 sessions was great and contained so much information that even non-social media people would get a ton out of.