ROI of Social Media badge at “Why should I invest in social media, it’s all free and it’s just a fad right?!”

These are words that social media specialist and consultants hear from business people exploring as to why they should make ANY investment in social media.  It’s a fair question.

I also hear often enough a comment that goes something like this – (for a large business) “…our marketing intern just opened us up a Twitter account.  We’re going to see how that goes before we invest anything else”, or (for a small business) “…my <insert young family person pronoun here> has a Facebook account, I think they can handle that for us.”

When I hear those objections to creating a well considered social media strategy, I explore a bit further and see if those positions have been adopted because they really do not understand where social media is going – in which case I offer education in the form of a copy of The Social Media Bible, the Ning website, webinar offerings or consulting – if they do not have a budget for education / strategy / consulting, I begin to look at my watch and listen for the opportunity to end the meeting and head out for door.

Red Fox sniffing a red herring at I’d love to take the time to convince them otherwise and convert them to be believers in the power of a social media presence, but there are many prospects who do see the power and eagerly want to invest – I am blessed that I get to work with some and there is a growing number of them everyday.

In this episode, Guy takes over the questioning and asks about the perspective that many social media professionals are still suggesting you cannot measure social media, much less the ROI of the effort, but he asks ‘what do you measure?’

Aaron Newman (VP Social Media Marketing of Alterian) offers up the often recited Red Herring (yes, I know there is a red fox in the picture, not a herring – do you know why?) response of ‘Why are you trying to measure the impact of social media? Do you measure the ROI of a telephone?’ but he quickly comes down firmly on the side of the discussion that says you can show an ROI, but he suggests it is more of an art form than a science.  Mike talbot (CTO, co-founder of Alterian) adds that many social media professionals are afraid to measure ROI of their social media effort, primarily because they are afraid that it will not show a positive result and they will lose funding of whatever project / department they are running – Mike suggests that there is another way to approach social media ROI.

Play / Download Mike Talbot / Aaron Newman Episode 2 Podcast Here

To support the effort in uncovering the ROI question in social media, we’ve set up a Fan Page at Facebook, a LinkedIn Group, a Google Wave and a special discussion group on the Social Media Bible Ning site.

Come join us and let us know what the pressing issues are in your efforts to determine an ROI in your social media presence.

Here are links to the previous segments in this series –

Episode 1 – What to Consider When Trying to Measure ROI / Hard and Soft Investments

Image courtesy of arudhio / Flickr