The ROI of Blogging and Social Media

A guy in a hoodie and girl lie laughing on the grass.

For years ROI or Return on Investment was a term used by business people in suits and marketers who worked for them. Meanwhile

search marketers often obsessed about rankings, traffic and conversions.

Then ROI went mainstream as not only SEOs turned to ROI as the most important metric after rankings and traffic have become too unreliable to measure success on the Web.

From Sense to Nonsense

Most notably the book Web Design for ROI I already mentioned made a huge leap in reversing the process of designing websites.

While a good looking homepage was key for many execs, now the check out forms or sign up pages are the most important parts of the website.

Now ROI turns into obsession though in the course of overt monetization of everything. Bloggers turn to measuring the ROI of blogs and social media.

What’s the ROI of Your Mom?

As if ROI was a applicable to these media types. You can’t really measure the often intangible benefits of blogging and socializing.

To get the point across across quickly I ask you three questions:

  1. Do you measure the ROI of meeting your friends?
  2. Do you measure the ROI of reading books?
  3. Do you measure the ROI of giving away presents?

Now you probably understand where I’m at. ROI is a monetary metric. I invest 100$ and get 200$ thus my ROI is 200%. The same applies to time spent on work.

How in contrast do you want to measure time spent on things that are part work, part leisure?

In the current society the difference between work and leisure blurres more and more each day. The disappearance of the work-life balance is largely due to the nature of the Web itself.

Not only you can be online 24/7 you also give away things for free and get others also for no cost changes our notions of work.

Are You Working or Social Networking or Both?

Do I work when writing this blog? Well, not really – or partly – as I am not earning money directly. Do I earn money because of the blog? I do.

How do I know which money or how much of it ensued due to me writing the blog? I can’t. Often it is not measurable. Also you have to ask yourself whether it is desirable to measure it.

You do not want to measure the ROI of your relationships.

Yet you will have to admit that having a partner or children has a very positive impact on your life and thus your success at work. Social media are virtual spaces where you do not meet real friends.

You do not meet anybody in the sense of actually meeting them in person face to face, but you contact people you would have otherwise never “met”.

Can you measure the ROI of meeting people virtually you have otherwise never met? Do you really want to measure it at all? This is also one of the most important differences between a social media campaign and a social media strategy.

In a campaign you often simply buy ads and measure $. While devising a strategy you set other, more important goals that are not measurable by such simple metrics like ROI but may pay out in manifold ways.

What can you do then to establish worthwhile and measurable goals? Share of voice (SOV) is a modern metric you might want to measure instead.

In case you still want to measure something: ROI for a (private) blog can be the number of comments on your posts. 5 comments by 5 people mean 500% blogging ROI.