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Social Media managers are constantly confronted with the challenge of proving ROI (Return On Investment), and very understandably so. Any responsible business is concerned with every type investment — money, time, energy, focus, or whatever — providing some type of measurable benefit.

The huge dead end many managers find themselves in is to expect a direct profit return from an investment in Social Media. In the best of cases, serious budget reserves are directed towards Community Managers and varied tools and systems, and in the end, that direct return is nowhere to be seen.

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My first thought is that much like in all forms of PR and awareness-type advertising, Social Media’s benefits are indirect and cumulative. Indirect, in that the benefits can be analyzed by looking at traffic and other types of action generated from your brand’s own activity. Cumulative, in that this activity isn’t simply 1:1, but requires action and patience for results to sprout organically.

Yet the main point I want to press is that in Social Media, there is another essential type of ROI that may be often overlooked:

Real Online Interaction

Real: By utilizing Social Media to its full potential, you can quite inexpensively speak to hundreds, or even thousands of current and potential customers.

Online: Your customers are not required to walk into your store, make an order, or be cold-called by you in order to gain a glimpse of what your brand is all about. Whenever and wherever they are, they can have a dialog with what you seek to represent.

Interaction: Social Media is a two-way road. Your audience can speak and listen to your brand, and they can (and will) be very honest. The good thing is, the higher their level of honesty, the greater likelihood they will be expecting a response as well. A captive audience is any business person’s dream come true.

Are we saying we should forget about measurable actions online? Not at all! We still very much believe that there are some base key performance indicators that should be kept in sight, and that other analytics can be developed in unique situations. The main message here is to not lose sight of the big-picture goal because of the granular charts and stats. At the end of the day, your customers will not see those stats, but will certainly be impacted by the way they are treated on an individual basis.

How much is Real Online Interaction worth to your business/brand?

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