A few days ago my friend Mark Shinn posted this graph on his Facebook page. [Click Graph]
I was on vacation at the time, but kept turning the data over in my head. The whole idea of ROI through social media has been somewhat of a misnomer. Historically, it’s been extremely difficult to calculate what a “Like” or “Re-Tweet” does for a business’ bottom line. Can a company attribute a spike in business to a strong social presence? How can they directly link that revenue to these platforms? As for the above graph, although the data seems to derive a small sample set, I think that B2B marketers might finally have a recipe for success through these channels.
Coincidentally, no more than a month ago, ASI’s Andy Cohen asked about our social media go-to-market strategy. More specifically, he wanted to know if we, as a company, put any stock in paid social ads through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. My answer at the time was that we had considered it, but didn’t see enough positive data to support the expense. I still feel that way. We will continue to use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as a means to reach out to our clients and customers, but I can't justify throwing money as an unproven advertising model.
This infographic clearly illustrates that some companies are starting to flirt with positive results, but I would like these cases to be the norm as opposed to the exception. As for Activate!’s strategy, once we start to see stronger adoption of promotional products into these programs, mainly distributors placing end-user targeted social ads, we will re-visit our go-to-market strategy.
So what does all of this mean? Is advertising with social media the next great cash cow? Maybe. I need to see more consistent, measurable growth before I make a significant investment with our time and money. These social platforms could be the connecting dots which help validate promotional spend and completely redefine promotional ROI as we know it—I just wouldn’t jump in feet first.