What’s the ROI of Social Media?


“We are afraid of wasting money on social media. What’s our ROI (return on investment?)” said a potential client recently. I understand the hesitance, especially from organizations that have successfully fundraised, or sold goods, for decades through more traditional means such as events and direct mail. I understand their concern. It’s a legitimate one. What should they do? Here’s my answer:

ROI of social media

Continue doing what’s working. If you are finding success through direct mail, it would be foolish to stop pursuing it. But also look at trends and costs. Most likely you are seeing a diminishing return on your investments in these campaigns. With good strategy and planning you can incorporate social media tools inside your traditional advertisement or appeals.

Reach a new audience while you can. There are great groups of people that do not respond to letters of appeal or glossy brochures. If you don’t engage them now, you won’t be able to count on them when you really need them to step up. Communication is changing and whether you like it or not is not an excuse to refuse to use new tactics. The longer you wait to adopt it, the costlier your entrance cost becomes.

A relationship first. Social media is the only instrument that currently allows you to begin a relationship with your future stakeholders, whether they be customers or donors. “Get to know me before you ask something of me,” is the cry of the generations X and Y.

It’s not addition, but multiplication. While the engagement cycle for a social media campaign might be longer than that of traditional media, its rewards are also much greater. If you capture the attention and heart of someone, you are most likely to be introduced to their entire network. A Facebook post, a shout out on Twitter, a comment on LinkedIn exposes your organization to an entire group of people you would normally never touch.

There are tools to measure and quantify engagement in most social media campaigns. But what they cannot account for is for the viral potential inherently present with each post, tweet, video, or picture. We are all one “forward” away from becoming the next Internet sensation.

What has been your professional experience with social media?

  • Mark

    Unfortunately my company does very little in the social media space. Our leadership doesn’t understand it, therefore they don’t see the value for it. I’m afraid that’s going to be a costly mistake

    •  Your story is far too common. If you leadership doesn’t “get it” then they do think it’s a waste of money and time. Sometimes we have to pass on a project because the client is not able to understand the dynamics of social media.

  • Sally Epps

    The past year has been an awaking for us as far as social media is concern. We are seeing good traction with our efforts. This post is stop on. 

    •  Thank you Sally. Glad to hear you’re on the right path.

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