Getting a good bead on social media ROI has always been a challenge. It can seem like you are in the Bermuda Triangle, where ROI estimates go and are never heard from again. This is often because the most valuable aspects of a social media campaign are emerging phenomena that occur only after the campaign is underway.

If you can turn these disruptions to your advantage, you will be on your way toward getting good social ROI. Here are a few best practices for doing exactly that.

Find Something Disruptive

In social media campaigns, you never know for sure what will happen. Unexpected results often seem like nuisances, but it is possible to use them to your advantage. Many organizations have attained a high social ROI by combining these disruptions with a process that already has familiar metrics:

  • Customer discussions were originally seen as a nuisance because they exposed customer service problems. When social media was redeployed as part of a customer service process, the results were much better.
  • Trending social media topics are often driven by a few select ‘leaders’. Marketing campaigns that are designed to recognize and prioritize these leaders have shown dramatic improvements.
  • The food industry is being completely transformed by social media, in every aspect from consumer behavior to manufacturing to sales. The key drivers of the change emerged as disruptive factors in social media dialogues. Marketing campaigns geared toward customers’ new digital relationship with food have been very successful for companies like Roman Meal.
  • Even complex products, such as health care and supply chain logistics, have had their processes improved by social media input that was originally unplanned, if not downright critical.

Repurpose Your Disruption

The above examples highlight the best practices for social media campaigns with high ROI:

  • Plan in advance to take advantage of disruptive phenomena
  • After the campaign is underway, take a step back and look for disruptions
  • Think of a new initiative that can turn the disruptions to your advantage
  • Combine the new initiative with an approach that already has proven ROI
  • Deploy these new initiatives in a way that disrupts the marketplace

When you identify and repurpose your disruptions, you’ll be rescuing your social campaign from the Bermuda Triangle by taking it outside of the (Face) book and putting it back onto solid ground. You’ll be taking a valuable insight and putting it into a space with proven ROI.

Voilà: bulletproof ROI for social media!

Scott Rummler

Published 5 March, 2012 by Scott Rummler

Scott Rummler is User Experience Principal at and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (2)


Paul Marsden

Good strategies, but the key challenge and absolute priority must be to link social media to back to ROI, and to do that you need to show how much money you either made or saved, and divide that by your costs.

ROI is all about money; the rest is just conversation.

over 6 years ago

Scott Rummler

Scott Rummler, User Experience Principal at

Paul, I agree. The strategies presented in the post are intended to help develop programs with high ROI. In most cases they'll still be amenable to the calculations you referenced.

over 6 years ago

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