One of the most frequently asked questions regarding social media is, “What is the business impact of social media?”

It is not an easy question to answer because it is difficult to measure both the result of social media efforts and the impact of conversations taking place on social networks and other online communities. What makes the aforementioned question even more difficult to answer is the fact that the only thing a business person is interested in is return on investment. If you cannot put a figure or a tangible metric next to the ROI question, you have pretty much failed as far as they are concerned.

It is very difficult to correlate the impact of online conversations with a single key business metric such as revenue. However, if you identify key voices related to your and your competitor’s brand then you will be able to tie in the ROI of social media across several business goals. So what are the most common business goals and what are the three primary goals within any marketing activity?

There are three primary goals with any marketing effort, regardless of industry and type of business:

  • Brand awareness
  • Customer retention
  • Lead generation

Each of these goals comes with a unique set of metrics that tie to sales, revenue and cost. So rather than focusing on social media as a purely monolithic element, businesses should evaluate social media ROI based on its contribution to a range of business goals.