the intangibles of social media

This weekend I was watching football (Go Gators!) and the commentators were talking about a particular player and what he brought to the team. They talked about his touchdowns and rushing yards, and play making abilities. All the reasons you recruit a player.

But then they started talking about his intangibles - what he brings to the team that doesn't show up in his scouting report or post game stats. They talked about his work ethic, how he makes players want to come to practice and perform. They talked about his leadership abilities and how he rallies the team to work together. They talked about his energy and how he gets players hyped throughout the game.

In social media, ROI is a sensitive issue. Social media is a relatively new and scary area for businesses to venture in to, and they're all asking the same question: "Is it worth it? Will our investment pay off?"Do these things have an impact on the team and result in wins? Of course they do. But, you can't find a stat for it. You can't find a stat for every high-five or pre-game speech. Every player already has an incredible amount of talent, but maybe that extra focus in practice allows them to recognize a hole in the defense. Maybe that high five they received on the sidelines motivated them to push harder and get an extra yard for a first down. You can't quantify those intangibles, you don't recruit for those intangibles, but it's those intangibles that help win games and develop a strong team.

If I'm involved in creating any social media strategy or campaign, I make sure I have clearly laid out the results I want to see based on business objectives, and establish a way to measure those results. Like I've said before, social media ROI is not hard to measure. But, it's also important to recognize all of the intangibles that derive from social media when used properly. You can't measure the bond you develop with your customers through interacting with them. You can't count every person that walks into your store as a result of your content, you can't measure the private conversations your customers have online about your brand. But, all of these things and so many more work together to bring in business and revenue.

I'm not saying you should invest in social media only for the intangibles. You would never recruit a football player based on his intangibles. But, when you're working on your social media plan and tactics and measuring the results, keep in mind that those results - those post game stats - are just the tip of the iceberg if you're using social media well.