Gary Vaynerchuk is Wrong: There is a Social Media ROI

December 26th, 2011 No Comments

At last year’s LeWeb, my colleague and social media superstar Ayelet Noff asked my favorite wine guy Gary Vaynerchuk the question that we were all hearing in 2009, 2010, and finally forced to answer in 2011: What’s the ROI of social media.

Gary answered that that’s the wrong question – and it’s a problem. Gary asked, “What’s the ROI of your mother?” It’s not about data or Facebook friends or Twitter fans, he said.

He also said that ROI should be “relationship with consumer.”

But ROI of social media is far more than relationships. It’s not just about the The Thank You Economy (though brand goodwill is one tangible ROI measurement)

There are a lot of people getting paid for “social media” consulting because they know how to use Facebook but not measuring ROI. This is how we were all doing it in 2009.


emarketer roi

In 2012, it’s time for accountability.

At work, I’ve been a passionate advocate for Twitter – not because I love it (I love whatever tool works) but because it has a high click through rate and is an appropriate tool to integrate with other campaigns to achieve one of my key business goals: qualified leads. But I’ll use whatever tool achieves that goal – Twitter or Facebook, a trade show, or a magazine ad. What matters is achieving the strategic goal – using whatever tool is appropriate given my budget and organization. Social media is part of ecommerce. I’ve made clear sales – actual dollars – directly attributable to blog posts.

What’s the ROI of social media? Here are some possibilities:

  • Sales – immediate, tangible revenue
  • Qualified leads, in whatever form – names/email addresses, downloads, form submissions, etc. – that are targeted and qualified, using your qualification definitions.
  • Lowered costs
  • Customer service questions answered

Define your KPIs first and maybe social media can help you achieve this. On the other hand, maybe not – either way you should be comfortable finding the tool to achieve your KPI.

Here are some answers from Groundswell, Forrester Research’s first book on social technologies, on how social TOOLS can be used to accomplish BUSINESS functions:


The ROI is tangible and quantifiable. Here is another example on how social tools can help save money in customer service can be seen here.

OK, I admit, this title was a bit of link-bait and I’m being a bit unfair to Gary – who knows that the ROI in social media is what we aim to achieve.

In a later interview, Gary made the point that most social media marketers are clowns — talking about Facebook likes and Twitter followers, instead of how social media is a channel to achieve business goals.

Gary made the point that you need marketers who know how to use digital tools to achieve business goals and hiring some 22 year old kid who knows how to use Facebook isn’t the right person to be managing your business.

It’s time to start being accountable – 99.5% of social media “marketers” are clowns – encouraged by marketers who are technoilliterates seeking out the 22 year old kid who doesn’t understand business – those of us who have been doing this for a long time, like Gary, Ayelet, and me all know that this a tool to achieve business results.

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