The ROI of Blogging and Social Media

For years ROI or Return on Investment was a term used by business people in suits and marketers who worked for them. Meanwhile search marketers often obsessed with rankings, traffic and conversions.

Recently ROI is going mainstream as not only SEOs turn to ROI as the most important metric after rankings and traffic have become too unreliable to measure success on the Web. Most notably the book Web Design for ROI I already mentioned makes a huge leap in reversing the process of designing websites.

While a good looking homepage was key for many execs, now the check out forms or sign up pages are the most important parts of the website.

Now ROI turns into obsession though in the course of overt monetization of everything. Bloggers turn to measuring the ROI of blogs and social media as if ROI was a applicable to these media types.

To get the point across across quickly I ask you three questions:

  1. Do you measure the ROI of meeting your friends?
  2. Do you measure the ROI of reading books?
  3. Do you measure the ROI of giving away presents?

Now you probably understand where I’m at. ROI is a monetary metric. I invest 100$ and get 200$ thus my ROI is 200%. The same applies to time spent on work.

How in contrast do you want to measure time spent on things that are part work, part leisure?

In the current society the difference between both vanishes more and more each day. Especially the nature of the Web itself where you give away things for free and get others also for no cost changes our notions of work.

So do I work writing this blog? Well, not really, or partly, I am not earning money directly. Do I earn money because of the blog? I do. How do I know which money or how much of it ensued due to me writing the blog? I can’t. Often it is not measurable. Also you have to ask yourself whether it is desirable to measure it.

You do not want to measure the ROI of your relationships but you will have to admit that having a partner or children has a very positive impact on your life and thus your success at work.

Social media are virtual spaces where you do not meet real friends, you do not meet anybody in the sense of actually meeting them, but you contact people you would have otherwise never “met”. Can you measure the ROI of that, or do you really want to measure it at all? This is also one of the most important differences between a social media campaign and a social media strategy.

In a campaign you measure $. While devising a strategy you set other, more important goals that are not measurable by such simple metrics like ROI but may pay out in manifold ways.

In case you still want to measure something: ROI for a private blog can be the number of comments on your posts. 5 comments by 5 people mean 500% blogging ROI.

Last updated: June 13th, 2015.