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Above the Funnel > ROI December 26, 2008

Posted by Brian Link in socialmedia.
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There’s a lot of discussion about ‘return on investment’ with all the new social media buzz lately.  It’s decidedly hard to measure the value of human conversation. It’s not something concrete in your sales funnel.  It’s the conversation I like to call “above the funnel”. And that’s largely what we’re talking about isn’t it when we talk about social media?  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and anywhere else you decide to make connections that may help your business. These are the conversations that someone may normally IRL have on the golf course, pause briefly to chat about on a sidewalk, leave an exchange of voice mails, chat while watching you kid’s soccer game, or have while sitting next to someone on the plane. You’re meeting people, getting to know them, talking about things both business and personal and hopeful that the connection may lead to doing business together in some shape or form, but mostly and most importantly you’re just being you – talking and meeting people, not writing a record of these exchanges or putting a dollar figure on them.

And yet it’s more than that.  On social networks, people are forming new kinds of relationships. For example, I’ve met some people in the last few months, where one of the following happened: I’ve either been given some great personal advice, pointed to a series of really helpful sources of information or exchanged a few messages that helped me decide what to do with my business.  These may seem like surface relationships to a lot of people, having barely discussed anything else and never having met face to face. But these same people I follow on Twitter and through this magical thing called Ambient Awareness I know all kinds of things about these people, have formed opinions about them, seen how they interact with other people and have witnessed many samples of their personality in different situations.  I honestly feel like I know them. And trust them. 

So, why do I conclude that “Above the Funnel *is greater than* ROI”?  It’s because that’s what social media is all about. You have to take a leap of faith that the connections will pay back. No one writes a business case for buying telephones for the office anymore, right?  Or even getting Internet access, right?  But it most certainly is a time investment.  And if you work for someone else, or if you want to decide how much time is worth it for you, as an entrepreneur, to invest in it, you need some justification, right?

So what do you do?  It’s simple really. Pick some metrics that you know how to measure and watch them. Create or unearth your companies goals and objectives.  Look at them and see where they might entwine. You company’s goal may be to get x% more visitors to your site, or attract a new client in a new market segment, or reach a new demographic.  Or you may be using social media to try to find new talent to hire and are counting resumes or emails or page views on your site.  Whatever your metric, make it specific, learn how to measure it, and see if your efforts in social media can make a dent in it.  Look at the trend before you started your social media related efforts and pick a point in time, preferably more than a few weeks later, review the data and compare.  Some organizations may be able to put dollars against some of those metrics.  1000 more page views on an ecommerce site for example usually relates to an increase of sales.

I can’t tell you who to befriend, what networks you should be on or what strategy to use in your social media efforts. That’s a whole new world you’ll have to figure out on your own (or hire a consultant to work with you personally on). But what I can tell you, because I believe it myself, is that if you focus on your “above the funnel” conversations and be transparent about yourself and your business and follow the most basic forms of online common sense and ethics, you will earn a following, create a digital identity and build your own tribe.

And then, you and your tribe will be one step closer to conquering your world. Good luck, and please let me know if I can help you with that.