Beyond ROI: The Value of Social Media

There has been much written about measuring ROI in social media. When it comes to marketing, measuring the success (or lack of) of our programs is certainly important. But when it comes to social media (as with many forms of marketing), an overemphasis on ROI can become problematic. Our determination to quantify can cause us to miss the overall business value that social media brings to the table or make critical missteps and even abandon our programs in this area.

It was refreshing to recently come across a great blog post about how KFC views social media.

“It’s really about connecting with fans and making sure the brand remains relevant,” said Rick Maynard, manager of public relations at KFC. “We don’t spend a lot of time figuring out the value of a Facebook follower. We see it as 3.5 million people who opted in and feel strongly about the brand, and we owe them the interaction and have a lot of fun doing it.”

It’s less about being a numbers game to KFC. They see the pure value of people electing to publicly associate their brand, regardless of the immediate ROI. It’s a privilege and an opportunity to connect with their customers in a more personal way. These people are giving the company permission to communicate with them and build stronger relationships. It’s difficult to understand how the value to the business in this situation can even come into question.

Measuring ROI wherever and however possible in social media marketing is important. But we need to look beyond ROI to the value of relationships. Over the life of the relationship the brand will benefit. The value of someone that wants to connect with your business on Facebook, Twitter or another social media platform is priceless.

What do you think? Is too much emphasis placed on ROI when it comes to social media marketing?

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