The ROI of Blogging and Social Media
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:
- Do you measure the ROI of meeting your friends?
- Do you measure the ROI of reading books?
- 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.
I think some people still think it is important to measure ROI, and even with blogging and social media there are many ways to do that.
Certainly, most of the time this doesn’t convert to dollars, but often it is the measurement of various elements that keeps bloggers blogging or involved in social media – it keeps their spirit up.
Like you point out, to measure ROI on a blog you can use comments, but also RSS subscriptions, number of social bookmarks, number of new links, and what, and how often, something is mentioned about you on the Web.
I know with me, getting double (or more) visits and comments inspires me to keep going; with each new person that signs up, I want to do more, do better – so measuring ROI in that sense continues to motivate me; and to me, that’s really valuable.
You always seem to make me think. Thanks Tad. :)
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Lid: Of course. What you say is all true. Nonetheless you rather measure your audience, how many people are really reading and reacting. You do not measure it ín a direct monetary way. Likewise you wouldn’t measure the ROI of your real life friends. You probably would count how many you have or how often you meet them or in how many cases you count on them.
Of course it is very important to measure ROI, to measure the ROI of websites, but with blogs and social media this metric is not suitable anymore. So while it is understandable that business people want to measure ROI of blogs normal bloggers shouldn’t in my opinion.
It maybe a fault, but I tend to measure my output in an ROI way, even with acquaintances and friends. Might not be monetary, but I need some ROI even if only good times or inspiration.
Love the post. I think the value in keeping up a blog or maintaining a presence on a social media site cannot be measured by ROI in the short run. Though there may be some immediate benefits, I think that keeping up with these mediums can have a huge impact on your business/career in the long run.
[…] Tadeusz Szewczyk – ROI of Blogging and Social Media, March 11, 2008 Selected Quote: This is also one of the most important differences between a […]