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Every day millions of people around the world interact and engage in social media. And as more businesses connect in this space, many are struggling to measure their social media efforts.

Without tangible outcomes, it becomes difficult to justify increasing social media budget dollars and without spending quality time engaging in social media there will be no tangible outcomes.

So the question needs to be asked, can social media ROI be measured? And the answer to this question is not straight forward.

The answer is – it probably it depends on what you see as your return. There are a lot of sales pitches going on in the social media metrics space and it can be challenging to know what to believe.

So what does this mean for business? Here are a few things to remember.

1. There is no silver bullet

Just like everything in life there is no one solution for anything. The key for business is to communicate their measures of success and formulate strategies and tactics to attain this success.

This requires strategic planning and comprehensive knowledge of your business agendas and audience plus solid methodology. In my experience, some businesses resist this planning stage of determining their success or failure.

They just want the silver bullet and to get on with it. Without determining goals, however, there will be no success because you have no idea what your success looks like.

2. What is the true value of social media?

When it comes to social media ROI it really comes down to first impressions. It is the opportunity to let people know about your brand and develop the opportunity to create a new relationship where there wasn’t one before.

If you are interesting, valuable and serving a need then people will want to know more and perhaps tell their friends about you. This will not get you the bottom line but it doesn’t decrease the value your business is getting from engaging in social media.

3. Social media metrics don’t show the full picture

Not at the moment anyway. The benefit of social media is in the conversation so listen and engage in the conversation.

What are people saying both positive and negative? Business tends to forget that social media is first a ‘social’ and communication channel which has become a business tool. It is not traditional media so stop treating it as such.

These points are no more or less important than ones not mentioned. It is really about business starting to think in a different way. Most businesses have decided what social media will do for them as a marketing tool before they have really thought about how social media works.

As more brands invest in social media, what is clear is that currently measuring social media is a minefield. However, business can experiment to find a formula that works for them.

What is important to note is that not every referral or relationship can be measured and not everything fits into a nice sales funnel but this doesn’t make social media any less effective.

What do you think?

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Anna Cairo

Anna Cairo

Anna is a social media communications expert. She supports businesses to increase their online presence through social media. Additionally, she also educates businesses around the impacts social media creates in the workplace and how to minimise these risks. She is a writer, researcher and author writing for diverse audiences on a range of topics. Further, she conducts workshops, presentations and is regularly asked to speak to lawyers around social media risk. Anna was recently nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2013. You can join Anna on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Cairo-Consulting/285887488090944">Facebook</a> or visit <a href="http://www.annacairo.com">www.annacairo.com</a>.

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