Determing social media ROI is crucial whether social tools are used to communicate better with customers or if they’re used to allow employees to communicate better with each other. The bulk of discussions around ROI focus on tangible things that contribute clearly to the financial health of the organisation.
Softer metrics don’t tend to get a look in, no doubt partly because of the rather lame focus on garbage such as how many followers you have, which for some time has been the extent of many organisations attempts at reporting social success. However, a recent study by FedEx and Ketchum has revealed that the use of social technologies has made an impact on just such a soft metric.
They found that using social technologies actually improved the relationships between employees. In other words, they made us all get on better with each other. Now it’s hard to prove direct financial implications of this, but if we take a network approach to this finding, the research shows that social tools strengthen the connections between each node (employee) in the network. That has to be valuable.
The research contained both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The quantitative part for instance was a survey of marketing and communication executives at big companies from a raneg of industries. The qualitative part consisted of a discussion with 20 leaders in the social business field (your humble author sadly not amongst them).
The survey results revealed that respondants felt that social business strengthened relationships with the public, with clients and with partners and suppliers. Suffice to say there has to be a bit of doubt attached to this finding because our view of a relationship is naturally hard to quantify. Nevertheless, instinctive reactions are not to be overlooked, and as trust is so important to business, it’s a response that should not be underestimated.
It should of course be remembered that your social business projects do need measurements that can be quantified and turned into pounds and pence, so this kind of good news, whilst interesting should not form the basis of your measurement. Nevertheless it does provide a nice kind of value add.