social media roi for breakfastSocial media is free, right? Simply sign up for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.  Enter some data for your profile, add a photo for your avatar, dump your email contacts and find connections and you're set. All you have to do now is tweet, Facebook and you'll be popular online and increase revenue 1000% because you're “doing social media.”

Sorry folks, social media isn't free. Yes, you can setup your social network profiles with no explicit charge. However, even with that you're spending time doing such. Time is of our greatest asset and we all know it's not free.

I see many business leaders frustrated they aren't seeing any return on their investment on social media.  Usually when you do the “double click” to find out why the majority of them aren't seeing results you find they lack goals, objectives, a plan, or forecasted return on investment (ROI) of any kind.

Question: How can you expect to have results with anything in business without goals, objectives, a plan and measurements?

The only way you are going to see real results in social media is with the development of an integrated plan, objectives and goals.

For those of us who work in marketing and social media it's time we start eating ROI for breakfast. It's time we teach our clients, colleagues and business partners to do the same.

10 Reasons You Should be Eating ROI For Breakfast:

1. The social currency of online marketing is action. If your audience is not taking action in social media what is it all for? How do you know what action you want them to take? What will that action do for your business? If we focus on the action then we are required to have a supporting plan, goals, objectives and measurement. Ever since I first heard Brian Solis mention his thoughts around the social currency of online marketing being action, I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

2. Without ROI you will not be in business or may not have a job in one or two years. If you are not producing a return on your investment including financial, time, people and any resource you are unlikely to be around in a year or two from now. We all know the state of the economy. Every dollar, hour and resource matters. Why not make it work for you and measure the result so you can improve or repeat if it's producing a positive return?

3. Hope is not a strategy. Sorry, sending inspirational tweets to your followers or chatting about your Saturday night parties constantly and hoping your audience will eventually buy something from you isn't going to get you there.  We have received several leads the past few weeks as a result of our competitors doing such. Our new clients told us they were turned off by the lack of focus of several other agencies. They liked that we practiced what we preach and that we eat, teach and live ROI in all we do.

4. Eating ROI for breakfast means you have your pulse on the action your audience is taking. You're working within a plan and constantly evaluating your performance against goals and objectives you have set. Social media is constantly evolving. Keeping a focus on ROI and your audience helps you keep the pulse on the ever changing ecosystem of people, technology and conversation.

5. You need to be a good ROI teacher. Your audience, business partners, colleagues, and clients should have a focus on measurable results too. Why not be a leader and teach them that hard work pays off and out beats the lazy random tweet my day away social strategy.  If you're a social media agency or consultant doing such will help you attract the clients who also want to focus on business results.

6. Tweets are cheap and easy! Because social media has the perception of being “cheap and easy” it is even more important you help your clients, partners and stakeholders understand the importance of a plan, goals, objectives and ROI! How many nights have you logged on to Facebook or Twitter to do “one small thing?”  Yet you wind up spending an hour or two surfing, fixing up your Facebook business landing tab that didn't need fixing, chatting with friends and doing a million things that are not bringing the highest ROI? Even those of us in the business fall to this. It's even more tough for those new to social media. It's easy to feel that you're making progress in social media when in reality you're not.

7. ROI requires you to look at more than number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes. It's what happens after the Facebook like that matters. Does your new Facebook liker ever come back to visit your page? Or were they a one night, one time liker that you'll never see again?  As mentioned in #1, unless your audience is taking action you are unlikely to obtain a positive return on investment with social media. Quality of audience and engagement matters. Yes, we want to have a large following, a page full of Facebook likers. However, I'd much rather have fewer likers and followers that are engaged, having a conversation with me, interested in my content and taking action that moves my business forward. A focus on followers and “likers” only will give you a false sense of success. As a result when it comes time to balance the checkbook at month, quarter and year end you will realize those supposed friends didn't do much for your business.

8. Hang out with 9 “brokes” and you'll be the 10'th broke. It's important you not fall prey to those around you who believe ROI only requires retweets, late night twitter conversations and sharing of your favorite party videos and photos on Facebook. By eating ROI for breakfast you're going to attract those who do the same. Focus on building relationships with those who also know how to more than spell ROI. Join or start a mastermind, meetup or other group to connect with like minds if you're currently finding fellow ROI lovers few and far between.

9. ROI eats Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) for lunch! Eliminate the randomness from your marketing and business efforts. By focusing on ROI, an integrated plan and goals you are better able to make data driven decisions. ROI better empowers you to make the hard decisions. If you are truthful in your measurement of goals and objectives with social media it will be easier to make the tough decisions. It takes the emotion out of letting the intern go who decreased your brand equity with the late night Saturday tweet mistakenly sent from your business Twitter account. It becomes easier to cancel a campaign that isn't delivering return. RAMs are bad, ROI is good!

10.  ROI tastes good! To me there is nothing better than seeing and tasting success from the careful execution of a well laid out plan. Yes, we must be dynamic but that's what makes it taste so good in the end. Once you taste it you'll want more and more. As you start to see results from investing more time up front in planning and setting goals you'll become addicted if you're not already. You'll wonder how you survived for so long without ROI.


Your Turn

So what are you eating for breakfast? Are you already eating ROI and seeing results? Are you ready to make ROI a main course meal? What are your clients, partners and colleagues doing? What are the tactics you have implemented to bring the highest ROI in social media and business?