Many businesses understand the importance of having followers and friends on social media sites, but many question its economic advantage and are hesitant to invest in it. While it’s nice to have friends and followers on social media, the primary goal of business, of course, is to generate profit, and many merchants are skeptical of the ROI generated by social media.

As Nichole Kelly from social media explorer points out, “business comes down to three things: sales volume, revenue, and cost.” The metrics for social media success focus more on reach and engagement, and are not as clear cut as metrics for business success, and most merchants and marketers can agree that

ROI is primarily a metric for business.  This triangular dynamic between ROI, business, and social media leaves many wondering – is it possible to precisely measure social media ROI for merchants? The clear cut answer is no, but to quote Einstein, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”  Those wise words from the timeless genius rings through the ages to the present day, and should comfort all you social media gurus. Although its effect on business may be somewhat intangible, social media is still pivotal to business success. Here’s why…

Social media is a massive data base for consumers. Imagine, as a merchant, having a tool that can take the plethora of information on social media, and transmit to you only the information relevant to your business and industry. Through utilising analytics tools like those provided by Local Measure, merchants can filter customer posts and feedback from multiple social media sites into one simplified source. This allows merchants to analyse how to best use social media outlets to drive traffic to their business, engage with loyal customers, increase their customer base, and enhance their CRM. All these elements may not be direct metrics for ROI, but the indirect impact they have on ROI is undeniable.

To sum up the discrepancy between social media and ROI, here’s a great analogy from Todd Wasserman from Mashable:

“Think of a billboard…There’s no record of who has seen your billboard ad and certainly no way to calculate how many people have seen it and then purchased your product because of the ad. Despite its copious digital data, social media is pretty much the same.”