ROI of Social Media Logo at In episode 1 of the interview with Aneta Hall / Emerging Media Manage at Pitney Bowes (PB) and a presenter at the 2010 MeasureUp Conference in Chicago in March, we talked about the need to develop a sustainable effort and a need to provide guidance to the staff that supports the interaction with customers, prospects and stakeholders.

PitneyBowes_Logo[1] In this episode, Aneta talks with Guy Powell and myself about how the elements of a relevant online strategy for PB includes traditional elements, like before social media came to onto the scene, but now it has changed many of the ways PB structures campaigns to their audience.

In 2010 a major goal for PB is to bring structure to their investment in social media.  The investment includes technology, and organizational structure and people.  Aneta shares how PB now makes the effort to evaluate interactions relative to the ROI of the time and resources it takes to connect to the audience, ‘No more free lunch’ says Aneta.

She shares the 3 tiered model for measuring social media that PB uses, each have several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) beneath them.  The major categories are –

  • Attention,
  • Engagement, and
  • Influence.

All these help understand the contribution to the leads, sales, and brand awareness for PB and it’s business units.

Aneta discusses how involvement with philanthropic campaigns has allowed PB to experiment with social media and develop an understanding of how to use social media, to monitor the interactions and to measure their results.  Early campaigns have been focused on philanthropic efforts, with the example of teaming with American Red Cross for the ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ campaign last year.  The effort connected US citizens to American Troops and Veterans around the 2009 Q4 Holiday Season.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         PB also investments in an extensive community driven customer support effort in their online forums.  Aneta suggests that it is hard to get a message out, if you are not ‘paying attention to your own backyard’ and responding to calls from the community for help and support – they just cannot hear the marketing message and they are unlikely to buy if they are not happy with your product. 

In order to encourage user to user support in the forums, PB staff monitors the questions and wait at least 24 hours before responding, allows time for research into the issue and to allow the community to support one another – PB believes this results in a substantial amount of call deflection to the user support center.

An ROI example she shares is that for every 5 visits to a specific answer posting in the forum or for every 25 visits to a general posting (figures from the book Groundswell) they have calculated that they have averted around 30,000 calls to the PB customer service center.  They estimate that every call into the customer support center costs about $10 USD, so they conservatively calculate that they’ve save over $300,000 in call deflection.  This consider this real ROI that is shared with all the business units leaders and helps drive the investment in social media.

Play / Download Aneta Hall / Pitney Bowes Episode 2 Podcast Here

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To support the effort in uncovering the ROI question in social media, we’ve set up a Fan Page at Facebook, and a LinkedIn Group.  Come join us and let us know what the pressing issues are in your efforts to determine an ROI in your social media presence!