What’s the ROI on Twitter?

27 Aug

I speak with a lot of businesses who are considering adding Twitter to their “marketing” mix and many ask me about 3, 6, 12-month ROI. What’s the plan? What are we measuring? We need to see some return here.

Please. You’ve got it all wrong. It’s a mistake to view Twitter as you would a traditional media channel. If you’re measuring success by your number of followers, you aren’t getting it.

If you’re expecting an equitable return on your time in your bottom line, you’re probably looking for results in the wrong places.

You’ve heard it a hundred times but Twitter is about building relationships. It’s not about letting people know what’s fantastic about your business. They won’t care if they don’t know you or don’t like you.

If you persist in thinking that for every social tweet you make you can then push your business content out there, then you’re a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s certainly ok to let people know about your wares, but relationships aren’t mathematical equations.

Copeland’s business has no doubt benefited from our investment in Twitter. But I don’t look to revenue lines to see the growth. It’s in referrability, in contacts we didn’t have before, in opportunities that have come our way through our involvement.

The way I see it, some people are made for Twitter, and some people just aren’t. If you’re looking at your social media initiatives through the prism of what’s-in-it-for-me, I would say find someone else to do your tweeting. And be patient for those results.

Want to see it done well? Follow Rod Phillips of Liquor Plus. Born to do it. Smart strategies, personable, honest, inspiring. Is his business benefiting? You bet. But not in ways he probably ever imagined.

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2 Responses to “What’s the ROI on Twitter?”

  1. Mario Parise August 28, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    I struggle recommending social media to clients for the most part. There’s a few reasons for this.

    First, if you’re the kind of person who is right for social media, you’re probably already doing it. That’s a generalization, but most of the time when clients ask me about it they don’t realize that it’s really about THEM taking the initiative and getting engaged online. Agencies can arguably give a boost to their efforts (through strategy, design, and creative collaboration), but it has to start with them.

    Second, you never know what’s going to come out of it. For me personally, the biggest benefit has simply been having something to point to as proof that I know what I’m talking about. Blogging got me my first gig in the industry and continues to serve me well on that front.

    But when a client comes through the door and wants to increase sales by so and so percentage points, it’s hard to suggest social media as the way to go. (I realize this is also the point you’re making.) But in the grand scheme of things, I think social media’s purpose is vastly different from marketing and sales. Sometimes the two overlap, but not as well as we might like to think.

    Also, as a side note, social media makes less and less sense the smaller your community is. For Sudbury, as an example, the amount of local people actually using Twitter is almost negligible. (For proof: http://bit.ly/d7qpma)

    • dougbrowncreative August 30, 2010 at 9:04 am #

      You sure do never know what’s going to come out of it. Like anything done without confidence, a foray into social media can be disastrous. I think monitoring is a good first step. Find out how it works, get a feel for the rhythm of the space, start learning the rules.

      I can imagine that Sudbury is not exactly buzzing on the Twitter front, but Victoria, also a small place, has about 2,500 regular tweeters now. If it catches on, it catches on big. Thanks as always Mario.

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