50 Things That You’re Not Measuring for ROI, But Should

I’m so sick of the “what’s the ROI of social media” question. It’s asked by people who a) think it makes them sound clever, and they’re hoping to show that social media “doesn’t work,” or b) think they’re supposed to ask it, because they read an article that said they should ask it.

The problem is, we can’t answer the ROI question during out first meeting. We can answer it after your social media plan has been up and running for six months. We set goals and then measure to see whether you made them. We count how much money the social media campaign made — because we can do that — and we subtract how much money it cost.

But we can’t predict it accurately beforehand, and anyone who tells you they can is lying.

What about you and your business? What’s the ROI on the stuff and the staff at the office? Have you measured them? All of the things you buy and the people you hire have a direct impact on your bottom line. Some contribute to revenue, some take up space, and some are a drag on your bottom line.Number 50 painted on a wall And yet, the people who are so quick to pull the “what’s the ROI of social media?” trigger haven’t asked that question about anything else in their own business.

So I’d like to see companies start measuring ROI on these things.

  1. Your college interns.
  2. Your brochures. You pay professionals to design these things. What have they gotten you?
  3. Your weekly staff meetings.
  4. Every other meeting you have to attend. They’re a big time suck and productivity killer. Yet we go to them without question. So what’s their ROI?
  5. The person who answers your phones. Don’t you think the voice of your company contributes to customer satisfaction?
  6. Your accounts receivable department. What does it do to your cash flow if they’re on time versus late with sending out invoices?
  7. The paintings and furniture in the front lobby.
  8. Your telephone hold music. People actually study this kind of thing, so it should be possible to figure out.
  9. That lunch meeting you had.
  10. Your mobile phone.
  11. The company mission statement that took eight people three months to write over six hour-long meetings.
  12. Your membership in three different trade associations. You should get valuable sales and clients from these. Are you?
  13. Your Chamber of Commerce membership.
  14. The company car. Lease costs, gas costs, maintenance. Are you making your money back on that?
  15. Your HR department.
  16. Your legal department. They’re great for keeping you out of trouble and for helping with intellectual property. How much did they make you this year?
  17. Your sponsorship of a Little League baseball team.
  18. Your fax machine. Seriously, do people still use fax machines? They have online services you can buy to send and receive faxes, instead of paying $40 a month for a separate phone line.
  19. Your voice mail system.
  20. The PR agency you hired for your latest campaign. And none of this “this is what your media coverage is worth” stuff — how much money did you actually make?
  21. Your office coffee machine.
  22. Your annual industry conference in Las Vegas.
  23. The business class flight you took to get to the conference. Execs need more leg room than regular staffers, apparently. So did you make more money by taking the more expensive flight?
  24. Your trade show display. These things are expensive. But did you make the money back?
  25. Your marketing department. These are the ROI experts. How much money did they make you?
  26. The cleaning service.
  27. The office Christmas party.
  28. Your office location. Retail stores can demonstrate how one location outperforms another. But what do you get for where you’re located? Do you really need an office downtown in the big city, when a location in the suburbs will cost less?
  29. The water cooler.
  30. The TV commercials you ran on cable TV for six months in 25 major markets.
  31. The IT department.
  32. Your CIO. Should your CIO really have the same decision-making abilities over the CMO? Should they be able to tell the CMO, “no, you cannot use social media tools to help market the company”? Hopefully they generated revenue to make up for all the lost sales they just caused.
  33. Staying at the conference hotel instead of a cheaper hotel a mile away.
  34. Your sponsorship of the local chamber event.
  35. The 90-minute morning networking meeting you attended. You go to this once a month. Have you gotten sales directly from going?
  36. The giant flat screen monitor in the conference room.
  37. The big table in the conference room.
  38. The conference room.
  39. Your administrative assistant.
  40. The company website. If you don’t sell anything on it, is it still making you money? Why did you spend $10,000 to get it designed?
  41. Subscriptions to all the business magazines that decorate your lobby. Did you even read them?
  42. Your newspaper ads.
  43. Your business cards.
  44. Casual Fridays. And while we’re at it . . .
  45. Appropriate business attire. There must be a reason we have to dress up for work. So how much money did you make from it?
  46. Your customer service department. You know how much they cost you, but do you measure how much they made you?
  47. The accounting department.
  48. The 12 books on new management ideas you bought and never had time to read.
  49. Your industry trade magazines.
  50. You.

I am not opposed to the social media ROI question. I just think it’s an easy fallback question that people use as an excuse, whether it’s out of fear or disdain. And I encourage businesspeople to ask that question. After all, you’re going to spend money on it, so you’d damn well better know how much money you’re making from it.

But you should do the same thing for some of these other things you have in your business as well.

Photo credit: duncan (Flickr)

Announcing The New No Bullshit Social Media Book with Jason Falls

No Bullshit Social Media cover

I’ve always wanted to have a book cover with a dirty word on it. Nothing horrific, nothing you would find in “those” bookstores with a plain brown wrapper on it. But something a little shocking.No Bullshit Social Media cover

That’s what I’ve written with my good friend Jason Falls: No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing.

We’re launching this book in October, and it will be found in “real” bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Borders. You can also get it on Amazon.com and BN.com.

As I’ve talked to businesses over the last few years about social media marketing, I run into the same excuses for why they’re scared to they don’t want to use social media:

  • Our customers don’t use it.
  • People will talk about us.
  • Our employees won’t use it right.
  • It’s still just for young people.

And we cite statistics and show real-world examples — here are your customers on it; they’re already talking about you; the fastest growing Facebook demographic is women age 50 – 60 — and still run into the same resistance and fears that have been ruling them. The same stupid reasons they gave for the telephone, the personal computer, cell phones, and the fax machine. Customers don’t use it, staff will abuse it, yada yada yada.

No Bullshit Social Media makes the business case for small businesses and large corporations about why and how they should use social media to improve their bottom line. It’s not a strategy-development book, or a how-to book. It’s written at a mid-level view for the C-level and for the small business owner about what social media does and where other companies have used it with great success. It shows what departments you can use it in, and how you make money with it.

Jason and I also want to come to your town and deliver the No Bullshit message in person. We’re putting together a book tour and quickly adding more dates.

If you have a group, organization or business that would like to sponsor a book tour visit, we’re keeping it simple: Travel expenses and 100 books for one of us, travel expenses and 200 books for both. (We can even help you get bulk book discounts.) Give the books away to the attendees, your company, or local businesses. We’ll talk to your group, get them fired up about social media marketing, and even sign books.

I’m thrilled and honored that Jason agreed to write this book, after a late-night text this past December. He’s been great to work with, and I’m constantly amazed at the way his brain works, as well as the Pearson editorial staff’s ability to deal with it. And him.

I’m looking forward to how well you — and the hopefully thousands of business owners — receive the book. Thank you for your support.

Businesses Don’t Care About the Social Media Expert Debate

After reading a few of the different posts about social media experts, including ours, our partner and founder, Mike Seidle (@IndyMike), wrote this response:

First, I am not a social media expert. I do sit on the board for a company that has several people that I would classify as experts on the payroll. Anyone who is saying “there are no social media experts” falls into one of two groups:

  • People who can’t accept that others may have more experience/deeper understanding than they do. This argument boils down to “since I don’t understand it, or can’t keep up, you can’t.”
  • People who do not have the resume to actually be an expert that are trying to get a job or gig that is for an expert. These people will claim that no experts can exist because of massive recent change that obsoletes past experience.

In the end, anyone who claims that social media experts are like the tooth fairy, Santa Claus or the Easter bunny ends up looking pretty silly:

Executive: So, you are here for the social media director position. I see here you’ve been using social media for two years. What makes you an expert?

Social Media Not Expert: There are not experts in social media. We are all explorers at sail on an undefined sea filled with incredible wonders and indescribable dangers. You see, no one can possibly be an expert on social media since it changes so fast. What I learned last year has no application to the future, and the tools we use and strategies we build often are rendered obsolete in the blink of an eye.

Executive: So, if it’s not possible to be an expert, then why are companies shelling out bucks on social media people?

Social Media Not Expert: Well, social media can get incredible results. Most social media campaigns fail because they are not well planned and are mismanged. On top of that it’s impossible to measre the ROI on social media… so do not count on predictable ROI or even expect a return you can measure. But social media will greatly enhance your brand. That’s why most companies are doing social media.

Executive: So, most social media campaigns fail for lack of management or knowege. I can’t expect any ROI, and you are not an expert. Right?

Social Media Not Expert: Well, when you put it that way… it doesn’t sound right. I would say that I’m not an expert, but I have experience and can guide your company around making mistakes that will make your social media campign fail. While we can’t …

Executive (Redfaced, Cuts off Social Media Not Expert): The door. Use it. Use it now.

“My Customers Don’t Use Social Media” and Other Lame Excuses

Fellow social media pro Jay Baer, and author of The Now Revolution, is busting some social media myths with his latest post, Destroying the 7 Myths of B2B Social Media. Jay Baer

My favorite busted myth was “My Customers Don’t Use Social Media”. I hear that one a lot from businesspeople.

“That’s interesting,” I said to a business person once. “How do you know?”

“Well, because I don’t use it,” said this otherwise-intelligent business owner.

I wanted to say, “You drive a sedan. Does that mean all your customers buy sedans? You have two kids. Do all your customers have two kids?” But I didn’t, because I’m a nice guy.

However, had I known what Jay knows, I would have instead offered some pretty interesting statistics instead:

According to the recent Social Technographics® report from Forrrester, 81% of U.S. adults with an Internet connection use social media in some form or function. Further, last year’s Forrester study of B2B technology buyers found that they use social media nearly twice as much as U.S. adults overall.

In other words, if 67% of US homes have broadband access,, 81% of them are on a social network, or 54.27% of people with broadband access are on a social network.

That’s half your customers, half your vendors, half your competitors. And if social media is so cheap to use, and your competitors are already on there, they’re reaching your vendors and your customers more efficiently, more frequently, and more effectively than you are.

Don’t assume that just because you don’t use social media means that the rest of your customers are waiting to join social networks until you do. Just because you do or don’t do something doesn’t mean your customers will follow suit.

If you want more proof, Jay recommended that you take your customer email list, and see which of them are active on different social media accounts by using Flowtown or Gist.

Another way to see whether your customers are using social media is to do the following:

  1. Create a new Gmail account with your company name or your name. (You should do this if you’re trying Flowtown or Gist too.)
  2. Upload your entire customer list to Gmail. (Don’t worry, your original is still safe.) Merge any duplicates.
  3. Create a Twitter account (Twitter.com) or LinkedIn account.
  4. You’ll be prompted to import your email list to see which of your contacts are on that network. Follow those instructions and connect your Gmail account.
  5. Start connecting with/following anyone in your list.

Those are the people who are using Twitter and LinkedIn. My guess is that at least 25% of your list will be found on those two networks, and possibly more.

So why aren’t you communicating with your customers on this channel? It’s cheaper than any advertising or trade shows. It’s more effective than traditional marketing. It targets your audience better than direct mail. It’s new enough that people are still paying attention to it. And it’s got enough acceptance that it’s not going away.

Basically, if you think your customers don’t use this because you don’t like it, you’re making a big mistake. Social media is not going to go away, and it’s only going to get bigger. People said the same thing about the Internet, computers in the workplace, fax machines, and telephones. But newer, more technologically-daring companies are willing to try these things, and they’re going to leave you in the dust.