I shared two posts that caught my eye today in my shared posts from my Google Reader on different topics, but I saw the most appropriate connect between them.

Urs Gattiker wrote a post at Social Media Today on “Measuring Social Media ROI: Why It Fails” and Seth Godin wrote a post on “Embracing Lifetime Value”.  I found them in that order and interestingly, in my comment to Urs I suggested that the challenge he (we) might be having is in trying to calculate an ROI of Social Media on a campaign basis, whereas Seth’s post was about the short-sightedness of companies in estimating the value of an customer and what it is worth or acquire and maintain the relationship with any given customer.

messagesThe crux of my comment to Urs wad that social media is still being thought of in many circles as YAMC (yet another media channel) for a brand.  My point is that it is not YAMC and for brands that continue to attempt to treat it as such, they are very likely to have continuing frustration at the investment and failure surrounding their efforts.  I am not going to pretend to have all the answers here.  For me it is still a topic in motion, but I do think we are beginning to surround the ROI question with better and better tools and, in forward thinking companies, I think they are beginning to get a better level set as to what can actually being attempted when an engagement in social media is undertaken.

To corporations and brands – if all you want to do is sell something and increase this quarters revenue, a social media effort will be fraught with a great deal of frustration.  Why?  because the audience really does not care about you or your brand, especially if the attempt is all about just trying to sell them something.  I am sure that a percentage of the audience will respond, but I think a brand who does that is missing of what a strategic social presence can really do for you.

If on the other hand, you are attempting to gain a customer for life, an advocate and a brand ambassador, social media is just the tool and tactic for you.  If you want to have an interactive relationship, connect a lifetime of interactions and effort to a dollar figure, from what I have seen, I can suggest you are pretty darn close to being able to right now.

It may be somewhat labor intensive effort today, but the automation is coming and in the very near future I predict that when a customer connects to the organization via whatever mechanism (blog post, micro-blog post, phone, social network comment, email, conference attendance, etc.), the company representative will be able to perfectly understand the ROI of the relationship with that customer and management will be able to understand what media tactics and tool can reap the best result.

Social media is dying as a separate category of media; media as we know it is passing into the dust as well and what is emerging is a media channel that is social at it’s core.  It will govern the lifetime value of the relationship with the customer and it will be measureable to a single tweet, blog post and social network interaction.