Selling Social Media Programs Requires The Ability to Show ROI

By James Clark     |     January 18, 2008

Who leads the Social Media Programs in the Enterprise: IT or Business?, this is the question Jeremiah Owang presents at Web-Strategist.  It’s a great post as it shows how social media and online community based programs still lack a clear position within the corporate structure.

Who’s responsible for bringing together all of the active components (PR, Customer Service, Sales, Advertising, IT) to ensure the effort is properly launched and supported?

In our experience, the most well run social media programs have the stamp of approval from the heads of the business units – presidents of division VPs. In addition, these individuals were always active in the initial discussions. It was never a situation where the idea was conjured up by the PR firm, sold to the PR director, who took it to the VP of marketing, who then sold it to president. Too many dissenters along that chain of command, and that did not even include IT, which once they find out that the external PR agency recommended this program they go into bunker mentality.

Yes, social media and community programs are all the rage. New social media sites are popping up every day. But rest assured presidents and VPs are not seduced by being part of the rage. They want accountability and ROI.

Until one can show how these programs can integrate and drive overall business objectives, it’s a long hard road. Even if you sell it in, by not backing it with ROI and measurable impact numbers, the effort will die on the vine. The social media guy will look cool, but after time the president just sees that person as line-item expense, and line-items expenses are favorite targets of cost conscious executives.

About James Clark

I've always been involved in helping organizations create public personas and expert leadership. I cut my professional teeth working my way up in public relations agencies, eventually becoming a partner at high tech agency that received an Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Company award. Over 10 years ago, I decided to focus on digital and how it disrupts business. It was a good decision as that disruption keeps growing, giving me a lot to talk about. Having read The Cluetrain Manifesto, I became fascinated with how Markets are Conversations and Search Engines are Media. So along with my business partner Jason Cormier, I co-founded Room 214 where we pull together business intelligence, social and search media program management and application development to help companies and organizations drive high search engine visibility and successful social media word of mouth campaigns for B2B and B2C marketing communications initiatives.

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