“Should brands expect relationships to pay off in direct leads and conversions?” in other words – “What’s the ROI?”
Jim Ducharme started the conversation by saying that the “R” in ROI also stands for relationship. Jim asks the question: Is it about the conversation or is it about the conversion when you’re talking about online marketing? He believes those 2 things are very inter-related. Everyone wanted to tell a related story from Jim’s analogy of asking a girl to marry you 5 seconds after saying “hello”. As the laughter grew, Garrett Button kept us on topic.
Garrett asked us to think about what the actual investment is that we’re discussing. What if you are asking a question – does the investment then become the question? If so, then your return is the answer(s) you get. What if you’re trying to start a relationship in which you’re getting no return at all – no help, no answers back, no interaction. This means you are getting zero return on that small investment. Garrett pointed out that the interactions and transactions we have on social are so minute that we can’t expect earth shaking movements but rather small and incremental movements back.
For me, this is a trick question – I get caught up on the word “Direct”. We can’t expect that all our relationships DIRECTLY relate to a sale. However, alot of times there are indirect things that happen from these online relationship building activities. For instance, you may have a great relationship with someone in your community that is not a paying customer. However, that person may be referring you to his or her network because of their enthusiasm. This could then lead to an indirect sale. My opinion? The bottm line is that if we’re just building relationships to build them, without sales in mind, we’re not doing the company for which we’re building the community a service.
David Dewald’s first counter point was the question: “When a customer returns something, what’s the ROI on that return”? He explained that if the customer just doesn’t like or want the product, this is a negative return on investment, but the company has gained some good will if the return process is pleasant. While David agrees that you can calculate ROI for social media marketing, he is very quick to point out that there is no good way to put a numerical value on relationships. David told us that his wife would certainly not enjoy waking up to the statement: ”Wow, honey, you’re worth 30 bucks today!”
The conversation got a little heated towards the end, and then we ran out of time. You’ll have to
watch the entire conversation we had around the question – I left most of the raw footage in this week.
Jim Ducharme ended by saying
“If people perceive me as a sales person – that hinders my effectiveness as a community manager. Having said that, my role to some degree is a sales support role.”
If you have an opinion on this topic of ROI as it surrounds community management, please join us this Friday for our Community Manager Hangout when this one question turns into an entire hangout!