Social Media Marketing: Smart Gamble or a Fuzzy Investment?

Almost no one would disagree that social media has marketing value, but the jury is still out on how valuable a company’s presence on a social network is. It is understandable why a recent poll of firms around the world found that half of them are ambivalent about the real value of social media marketing.For those firms that are still on the fence about the issue, their primary reason is that there is no way to accurately measure the return on investment from social website marketing, or even compare it to other types of marketing.It’s a pretty good reason. Unlike television or radio advertising – two types of marketing that have been well documented by market research for decades – social media marketing stands out in that there is no scale to predict how much you’re likely to make in profit if you invest ‘x’ amount of dollars in social media.The rationale is sound – who goes on a luxury vacation getaway without first figuring out if they can afford it?But these hold-out firms should take into account the intangible qualities that come from engaging in various forms of social website marketing. Much like the benefits that come from being highly regarded by your clients and co-workers is immeasurable, so too are the benefits that come from being highly popular on Facebook, for example, difficult to measure in dollars and cents.But beware of creating a monster; as easy as it may be to ascend in popularity in the social media sphere, it is equally easy to plummet back into obscurity if your peers get bored of you, or if you do or say something to displease them.So, not only is the return on investment in social media marketing hard to measure, it also can be a bit of a gamble.While there may be no way to measure return on investment in social website marketing now, that doesn’t mean someone won’t come up with a way in the future. The sheer number of people who participate in social media communities every day make is a market worth paying attention to, at the very least.The million dollar question then becomes – how do you measure social media marketing accurately enough to put a dollar figure on it? The person, group or organization that figures that out will change the face online marketing forever.