Could The Concept Of Social ROI Be On The Way Out?

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

The above tweet is a response to a piece published earlier this month by Media Bistro addressing the fact that, as far as social ROI is concerned, most marketing professionals are of the mind that dealing with social media isn’t really their job; the PR department should be the one to manage an organization’s social presence. They aren’t wrong.

Social media is, only in the barest sense, about advertising. The social network is a medium focused entirely on relationships.

Social media manager jobs are on the way out in the business world—along with the idea that success on a social network is something that can actually be quantified or accounted for in a financial report. Professionals, it seems, are finally waking up to what social media really is and to how it really works. The bare truth is that the same qualities that make a platform like Facebook or Twitter ideal for an events planner—the ability to connect with, engage, and relate to consumers on a near-personal level; the ability to incite excitement within an audience—makes it less-than-suited for traditional advertising of any kind, where the end goal is sales. Social media is about reputation; it’s about brand loyalty and public image.

Social media is about reputation; it’s about brand loyalty and public image.

It’s not a transactional medium, nor is it a platform designed to directly create revenue. Instead, it’s there to help an organization grow. It allows a business to put its best foot forward and endear itself to potential customers. This isn’t something that’s measurable if money’s the end goal.

The concept that social networks are something to be analyzed from a sales perspective—that they are little more than another advertising tool, akin to television or radio—was flawed from the beginning. Thankfully, many organizations are gradually beginning to understand this. The concept—some might even call it the myth—of social ROI is ever so slowly dying out.

In that same vein, metrics which purport to measure social ROI are falling into disuse, replaced by a new crop of metrics designed to evaluate social media strategies and to evaluate the real factors involved in social success. Factors such as revenue and conversion are being ousted in favor of brand awareness, reach, engagement, and sentiment. In short, businesses are starting to care less about what a consumer does so much as what they think.

Now, that said, there are a few exceptions to this trend. As noted by Business Insider, direct response campaigns and social commerce applications will still achieve results that are measurable from an ROI standpoint. Just the same, this is a relatively small niche compared to the widespread use of ROI witnessed only a few years ago.

For a marketer concerned chiefly with ROI, this new trend—and the new set of metrics—isn’t exactly helpful. For an event planner—one who needs to get people fired up and excited about a brand or conference—both are invaluable. After all, if attendees at an event aren’t interested and engaged, what exactly is the point?

There’s a reason many marketing professionals believe social media is the domain of the PR department: simply put, it is. Although marketing should certainly have a role in an organization’s approach to social media, websites like Facebook and Twitter are best-suited, above all else, for reputation management. When you’re communicating with fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter, you aren’t selling a product or service. You’re telling a story, and in so doing, engaging with consumers on an entirely new level.