How does anyone measure any marketing campaign? Much of it depends on how well you track your numbers before you institute a social marketing campaign. If you know what your conversion rates are, the cost of traffic, the cost of getting a customer, how much a customer is worth to you, etc, then you can figure this out. Many companies cannot even tell you what those numbers are, Without them it’s impossible to evaluate any marketing campaign. Also it depends on what you have in place to track and analyze data which is another thing many firms especially smaller ones do not do well. Without data, calculating anything is next to impossible.
Two of the biggest challenges with social media are the time that it takes to get anything meaningful going and of course, how to track it. It’s important to keep other marketing efforts constant so you can actually measure what is happening. In other words, ramping up a PPC Campaign while you are starting to get social media traction is probably not a good idea. Keeping everything constant can be very difficult to do because it just plain old takes time to grow a following online and is not realistic for most companies. Over time, I am sure that more and better ways of tracking and quantifying will become available. In the meantime, we all have to be creative in this regard and do the best we can with the tools at hand.
One answer to this question is another question? How can it not pay off? If social media and social marketing are where things are going and where traffic is, then how can a company not engage in it? Social Marketing is more than just marketing, it’s marketing, PR, and customer relations all in one. It is however, very transparent. It’s like you are talking to one person with regard to some input, or question, or complaint about your company and thousands of people are sitting there listening to the we’re not ready for it, then it should be. People want transparency whether the companies want it or not. Get ready to up your game or get out of the one you think are playing. This is here to stay.