I just came across an article on a LinkedIn group that sums up, for me, everything that is wrong in the world of social media today; entitled “How should I measure social media?”, it linked through to a video about creating measurable ROI from social media activity. The cart is placed well and truly before the horse.
Return on Investment should come through seeing money spent leading to defined business outcomes. Those business outcomes may be variety of things – sales, profit, cost reduction, customer satisfaction, staff satisfaction… – but social media is merely one of a number of routes by which a company might achieve those objectives. Having social “written into most business budgets” is like having cheese written into most business budgets. You might decide that giving away free cheese might be a way to entice customers or staff into doing something (or might be your product if you are a cheesemonger) – but you’d never measure success on the volume of cheese given away whether you’re in the dairy business or not.
For as long as social media “experts” position social media as a means in itself, rather than as a channel available for achieving real goals, the rest of the world has every right to simply respond with a resounding “meh”.