Okay… A few very smart peeps are still having trouble with my pragmatic approach to talking about Social Media R.O.I. this week, and I want to reassure everyone that I haven’t suddenly turned into a soul-less corporate monkey. (Thanks for the concern though. You guys rock.)

Fact: The value of having brands use Social Media to engage with their customers, build relationships, connect with communities, and participate in open dialogue is immeasurable. Let’s just say it outright. You simply can’t put a dollar value on friendship, and this is the same thing. The relationships that brands can build using some of these communications tools cannot be measured in dollars. Relationships are far too complex and important to trivialize (cheapen, even) by equating them to sales metrics. I get that. Heck, I have been writing about it for years on this blog – long before “social media” was a term. None of that has changed. I am still one of the good guys.

But there is another side to the equation that needs to be talked about: I’ve explained this in my previous two posts – In order to get buy-in from decision-makers mostly concerned with their P&L, you just can’t get around the issue of real world (dollars and sense) R.O.I.. You simply have to be ready and able to convey the value of Social Media to their organization in terms that they can relate to.

This should help clarify the dichotomy of this discussion a little better:

(If it doesn’t load, click here.)

Think about the value of Social Media to a business like you would two sides of a coin: Polar opposite but inseparable – On one side, you have value to the brand: The soft value of relationships, engagement, loyalty, Word-Of-Mouth, etc. On the other, you have value to the organization: The measurable value of increased sales.

Welcome to the Yin and Yang of Social Media.

I want to make sure that everyone is clear on the relationship between the two and the importance of addressing both in your discussions with decision-makers.

So don’t be alarmed: I am only bringing sales-focused R.O.I. into the discussion to help balance the equation for you a little bit. I haven’t shifted my stance on what makes Social Media valuable.

Sorry if I had a few of you worried. ;D

Tomorrow, we’ll go over another cool metric: Yield. (Good stuff.)