Social media has become a giant tool for brands to broaden their reach and generate sales. Given the amount of time customers spend on social networking sites, it’s table stakes for any company (large or small) to get serious about investing in social media marketing. As such, it’s no surprise that a recent Duke University Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) study found that CMOs expect to invest 21.6 percent of their marketing budgets in social media within the next five yearsvs. the eight percent they currently spend. The advent of social communities has fundamentally changed both our culture and the media landscape. Brands have the opportunity to have direct conversations and learn more about their customers in the process.

Given this great investment in social media, brands have an opportunity to think differently about the ROI of social media programs. Rather than thinking about the ROI of gaining a fan, think about the Return on Involvement.

  • How much time are people spending with you?
  • How often are they participating in a conversation?
  • How much deeper is their relationship with you?

This focus will be the driving force behind the shift of how brands are viewing the data behind social programs. Everyone knows there’s lots of data out there, but no one has yet to really make sense of how big data translates into business objectives. Therefore, companies need to start focusing on small data—a set of clean records that accurately record customer interaction with the brand. Small data sets can be very large, but the core difference is that big data contains everything happening in the
social realm, whereas small data sets contain records targeted to interactions with a brand.

By evaluating small data, marketers can implement better strategies because they will be aimed directly at what customers care about most. The social world is so large that you will never be able to get your arms around the entire thing—so stop trying! Just focus your energy on the pieces and parts that you can control and impact. The rest is just white noise.

Brian Costea

Brian Costea