Ready for the definitive ROI formula to calculate how much every online social interaction is worth?
There isn't one. And you should stop wasting your time trying to figure it out.
Before I tell you why let's look at a couple of tips and case studies to make your marketing efforts more valuable in the the current social technology landscape:
Incentivize sharing across your target platforms. A great case study for this type of engagement is Urban Hunt. Sponsored by FIJI Water, participants in the day long contest are required to open their social profiles (making your wall public on Facebook, etc...) and post bits of information including YouTube videos, status updates, check-ins, Tweets and more to earn points in the event.
Integrate the experience into an every day social activity. Have a look at Bartab. This iPhone app allows you to purchase and send drinks virtually. Participating bars will then sell the real drink to the recipient for $1.00 (a steal in San Francisco - the only participating city at the time of this article). The catch? The only way to get the drink is by allowing Bartab to openly share on Facebook and Twitter that you have sent or received the drink.
The conversation needs to be less about a hard ROI for "fans", "likes" or "check-ins" and more about driving engagement and brand equity with things worth sharing. Let's face it, spending time trying to calculate these figures is futile; before you know it the private companies that own major social platforms are going to commoditize social sharing and pull the rug out from under marketers' feet. I've been saying it for months now, and trust me, it's coming sooner than you think.
The best way to bring social value to your (or your clients') brand(s) is through creation of a unique and highly incentivized sharing experience. Contests and gimmicks are old hat and boring. Consumers demand more interesting, interactive and inherently social applications. Based on accelerating trends it shouldn't be hard to identify that next killer campaign for your brand.
As for measurement? I wouldn't worry too much about the details. Use analytics layered over interactions and revenue to get a good picture of success or failure. Make great social applications that share and scale well and you'll find measurement becomes far less important in the grand scheme.
Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.