If an action is not right for all situations, then it is not right for any specific situation.
ROI is a popular mandate when deciding whether to enter into the enterprise venue of Social Media in these times. ROI (Return On Investment) is a cost/benefit analysis. It requires that all costs and benefits be stated in perceptible currency. As such, it is generally much easier to quantify costs than it is benefits, thus biasing ROI measurements by giving undue weight to costs. Social Media campaign beneficence is most often a qualitative computation, difficult to assess in monetary denomination.
Further, ROI tends to focus on predicted benefits. Social Media is predisposed to return egg in one’s beer that is typically unseen. Many SM initiatives have conveyed enhancements that were not visualized at the outset of their implementation. Consider the magnitude of growth experienced by Facebook, and the marketing advantages that have been attendant. Such prosperity could hardly have been forecasted in the first couple of years of its existence, though nevertheless it has become a mainstay as an advertising channel; having a fan page is now comme il faut, with an associated design industry that is both flourishing and lucrative. This is but one example among many others.
Establishing a commercial presence within the online community brings blessings that are difficult to benchmark in monetary nomenclature. How valuable is communication with clientele, the ability to broadcast timely updates, and feedback from the targeted market? What fiscal assessment can be assigned to these parameters? The very nature of ROI demands that these advantages be described in financial terms.
Certainly returns on investment considerations have a place in determining SM dynamics, but they should not be the single deciding factor. ROI tends to emphasize short-run benefits over long-run benefits. While the mathematics of ROI calculations do account for both correctly, short-term prosperity is easy to visualize, and therefore has a tendency to be included in the ROI estimations. Long-term benefits are harder to imagine and more difficult to evaluate, and are likely to be accommodated less often and less accurately in the ROI appraisal. This in turn can lead managers who rely solely on ROI measures to make incorrect decisions on Social Media engagement.
It therefore becomes incumbent upon those that make final adjudications concerning the implementation of Social Media ventures to look beyond ROI as a singular application, and consider the broader implications of what largesse can be secured when authorizing the creation and augmentation of an occupancy within the communal Internet commonwealth.