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Facebook gives us the last piece of the ROI puzzle

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A small, relatively unnoticed posting last Nov. 23 on the Facebook blog gave marketers that use social media one of the greatest gifts I have seen in marketing in quite a while.

According to the post, "Improving Facebook Page Insights," the social networking site announced that it is providing added metrics for all Facebook page owners and Facebook platform developers. Page administrators now will be able to see per-post impression counts for each story posted on their pages from June 25, 2010, onwards. Per-post impressions, Facebook said, will be collected in raw format, and all impressions will be counted toward the impression total.

Here's the true meaning of this post: Facebook has given us the ability to track the impression count of an individual piece of content posted on a particular Facebook page. This was previously only allowed for pages with more than 10,000 fans and "likes."

This is significant because now you can measure impressions across many earned social media, such as your Facebook page postings, YouTube views, Twitter, blog impressions, etc. And if you can officially measure impression data across these forms of media, then you can attach a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) to that number and define the media equivalent value (MEV) you get by participating in social media.

Some clever companies saw this and immediately launched social-media dashboards that can derive an MEV for you. These tools include SocialEye from Overdrive Interactive and SocialSenseFB from NetworkedInsights, both of which I am currently test driving.

All this means you can now truly measure your progress daily, weekly and monthly in social media. And better than that, you can report back to your executive team how much media value you were able to derive for your company by using social media, giving you a nice, tidy way to sum up all your media value, back out the cost of your social media program and show an ROI.

Marketers have been looking for a tool to measure ROI in social media but, because the metrics were so different (fans, followers, views of videos, etc.), it was impossible to normalize those metrics to create a single measurement. Ultimately all marketers will be heading to a place where we can monitor spending across all forms of media—including paid, earned and owned—in order to know where to place our very next dollar of media spending.

I think you will see this type of media analysis emerge more this year. Little did we know that quiet evening last November, just two days before Thanksgiving, that Facebook gave marketers something really to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.

Paul Dunay is global managing director-services and social marketing at enterprise telecommunications company Avaya Inc. (www.avaya.com). He can be reached at pdunay@avaya.com.

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