When brand marketers are considering social media, the first question they ask is what is the ROI? After all, most marketers have been trained to believe that every piece of spending has to have a short term return to their brand — hence the idea of the campaign. (Perhaps this is why Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has taken some time to gain traction — though that is the subject for a whole other post.)
But what happens when your return is uncertain? What if the potential returns remain beyond your measurement horizon? Or outside of the normal market boundaries in which you operate? This post, Where the Hell is the Sponsor?, about Matt Harding’s dancing video has received quite a bit of traffic over the last week or so, and has generated some great conversation. And this morning, the great connector, Christina Kerley, referred me to both Mario Sundar’s post on Matt’s video and the New York Times article on the infectious nature of the video which has generated around 4-5 million views.
Think about the value here. There are 4 million people around the world willing to sit through almost 5 minutes of video. These people are receptive to the simple brand message offered by Stride Gum. That is 20 million minutes of brand engagement — opt-in. That is the equivalent of one person spending 38 years watching your brand message — in good faith. And I have a feeling that this may well go a whole lot higher now that the NYT has begun spreading the news. Now, not all videos or brand activations will "go viral", but the niche targeting and the goodwill halo achieved (if you have good strategic planners working for you) with only a moderate number of impressions can generate a significant amount of roll-on coverage, PR, blog reviews such as this — and a whole lot of offline discussion.
Developing the ROI for social media is not an easy measurement, but it can be done:
- Start with your "time with brand"
- Expand this with some sharp guestimates around mainstream broadsheet adoption for a good NYT story
- Factor in some multipliers for influence networks and the strength of weak ties (blogs, online coverage etc)
… and before you know it you have a fairly powerful model that will make your jaw hit the floor.
And if that is not enough, the shouty, Katie Chatfield raised yet another perspective — that it is not about the return on investment, but about managing the risk of NOT participating in the conversations that are ALL ABOUT your brand.
Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo
Special thanks (again) to Ian Lyons for introducing me to Where the Hell is Matt!