A few weeks ago I attended Brand Republic’s Social Media Strategy Conference in London. One of my main objectives was to find out how to measure Return On Ιnvestment (ROI) on Social Media, an issue that has troubled marketeers for some time now. Although there has been a lot of discussion around it, not many have a clear picture of how to manage it and how to choose the right tools.

During this conference, I realised that things are simpler than they seem. First of all, there are no magic tools and methods that work for everyone. Depending on the objectives, every company should find the most appropriate method of measuring the results.

Social Media belong somewhere between communications, marketing and customer service, so it’s usually difficult to talk about number of sales generated in short term. What can be measured is feedback, level of interaction, popularity, reputation, traffic and so on, depending on the objectives. If, for example, Social Media is used to improve customer experience, then customers’ feedback is the best way to measure success.

In any case, what people say about a brand on the web is very important and there are tools to observe and monitor it, such as Radian6Alterian SM2 and Viral Heat, but these should be used as part of the method that has been chosen specifically for each company or brand.

To conclude, communicating with customers via Social Media is a marketing activity but it cannot bring instant results on sales because it is all about connecting with the right audience, reaching the key-influencers, showing a personality that people will trust and follow. This is something that takes time but, eventually, its success can only result more customers and more sales. The best way to know if you are getting it right is simple: ask your customers!