Relationship Economics = Correct Portrayal of Social Media ROI?


I was recently chatting with Mark Sylvester, CEO of Intronetworks, when he said something that made me perk up quickly! Relationship Economics! The term came from a smart chap named David Nour who owns an organization called ReNetworks – The Art of Science & Relationships and wrote this book. To be honest- I think the terminology is brilliant. Apparently so does he- so much so he trademarked the term.

Over the past 5 months I have seen more companies trying to find the ROI of Social Media. In other words, how much is it going to cost and is Social Media worth the resources? The answer to that question is- let us look at the Economics of relationship building. What is the churn behind the efforts and what can I expect back? To most companies, they are looking at Social Media engagement as a cost center. Whereas if organizations look at Social Media as Relationship Investments, all of a sudden the Relationship Economics look much rosier because the org isn’t looking at Social Media as a traditional leads and sales driver. Instead, they are looking at it through a totally different set of spectacles, simply because the terminology set different expectations.

I once thought about going to school for psychology. To this day, I find the actions people take due to situations vary for each person and their life experiences. Yet, in other circumstance the human mind is very similar. When it comes to sales, the best sales people can sell because they are flexible enough to say the same thing differently to match what the target is looking to achieve. Find the need, fill the need! Sometimes it takes a change of terminology to “close the deal”. Same deal here! I have no doubt in my mind that presenting to decision makers the “Relationship Economics Of Social Media”  will make them far more open to looking at it as a new business angle,  NOT just clumping it into a traditional revenue generation conversation.

Ultimately the Relationship Economics of Social Media are:

  1. Innovation (better products to the voice of the customer)
  2. Business Intelligence
  3. Competitive Intelligence
  4. Brand Awareness
  5. Brand Affinity
  6. Productivity
  7. Business Development
  8. Lower Marketing Churn
  9. Peer Customer Support (Lower Customer Service Costs)
  10. Search Engine Optimization

The key to these relationship objectives are to set realistic benchmarks and achieve those goals. Then tracking and relating those goals as part of driving traditional ROI objectives (New Sales & Lead Generation) but not being the sole reason for them.

Thanks again to Mark Sylvester for being a source of fantastic conversations, insights, Tweets and giving his customers an amazing customer service experience. As for David from ReNetworks- I look forward to having a conversation with you one day soon!

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4 responses to “Relationship Economics = Correct Portrayal of Social Media ROI?

  • David Nour

    Thanks for the mention. I think when it comes to social media / social networking, we’ll have to reinvent ROI – from the traditional return on investment to a strategic and quantifiable Return on Involvement, Return on Impact, Return on Integration, Return on Image and Return on Influence! Not just clever “I” terms, but an intelligent manner in which an organization can leverage its soft assets: brand, people, and relationships; on or off-line!

    Best,
    David Nour – founder
    Relationship Economics – Atlanta
    @davidnour

  • socialsmartjb

    Indeed. see my recent post on the subject – The Question is Not Can You Measure Social Media ROI? It is Should You? – http://socialsmart.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/the-question-is-not-can-you-measure-social-media-roi-it-is-should-you/

    If you listen to Lionel Menchaca, Digital Media Manager for Dell, in a recent presentation at BlogWell San Francisco, their social media is much more centered around customer service – they don’t even think about whether it is producing sales or revenue – as long as they are keeping their customers happy. Maybe this is the approach we should all be thinking about?

  • derekshowerman

    Thank you David for the great insights. Awesome! Socialmartjb, I think you are right. But I dont think just Customer Service is the niche to focus. As I outlined in the blog there are a number of avenues a company can travel and not focus on $$$, ROI & leads. See:

    1. Innovation (better products to the voice of the customer)
    2. Business Intelligence
    3. Competitive Intelligence
    4. Brand Awareness
    5. Brand Affinity
    6. Productivity
    7. Business Development
    8. Lower Marketing Churn
    9. Peer Customer Support (Lower Customer Service Costs)
    10. Search Engine Optimization

    As David wrote so eloquently the ROI is Return on Influence and other business objectives. I have blogged prior focusing on the business drivers outside of the traditional ROI realm: http://derekshowerman.com/2009/07/17/social-media-is-not-your-grandfathers-roi-what-about-roe-roc-ros-roa/ 🙂

    Thanks for commenting and sharing your fantastic blog.

  • Dirnov

    Hi there,
    Super post, Need to mark it on Digg
    Thank you

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