Rationalizing Time Earmarked For ...

social media roi

We already know participating in social media requires time.

But how many of us scrutinize the ROI associated with this time?

I hadn’t until a friend and colleague asked me the following questions:

It’s obvious you’ve made a commitment to social media. How do you justify the time? Can you attribute new clients to your social media effort? Do you believe existing clients stay because of your presence?

All fair questions.

Let me take a crack at responding.

At the macro level, social media increasingly serves as a platform for storytelling. With storytelling a core component of the Agency’s brand, it’s logical that I participate in the channel.

Plus, I enjoy it – no denying the advantages for a closet introvert – which plays into the rationalization.

Like everyone, I make choices on what I do and don’t do. For example, you won’t find me on Facebook for the simple reason that I think I get more out of other social media platforms from my time allocation.

Moving to lead gen, social is just one component of our overall SEO strategy. If you plug “tech pr agencies” into Google, we’ll typically show up on the first page. And if you tie a form of this with Silicon Valley, we’ll typically land high on the first page. Hard to say how much social impacts this, but our new-biz pipeline has been robust over the past year and it’s not because of an improved economy.

I also think it’s fair to say that most companies want to work with a “switched on” agency. The fact that the middle-aged head of the agency embraces social media sends a message to the market that we’re not leaving the digital side to the youngsters. Everyone in the Agency participates.

For existing clients, I don’t think our social media presence has a major impact.

Now, what they do care about is the expertise we’ve gained and continue to gain by engaging in digital media (social as a subset).

We just built out a campaign for a company where the objective is straight forward – help to move the existing product inventory. Our ability to integrate traditional PR as well as social, SEO, storytelling, owned media, and PPC into a single campaign directly depends on our day-to-day participation in the digital world.

Here’s the key and what’s great about social media and the digital sphere: The learning never stops.

When the Toyota recall crisis hit last year, we built a digital property which amounted to a real-time lab to experiment with different SEO techniques. Using a high-profile event, we wanted to see if it was possible to cut through the noise and land on page one, again with the idea of experimenting with various SEO dials. Mission accomplished. Even today if you search on Toyota PR crisis, you’ll see our digital property shows up in the top five results.

Even our internal infographic campaign called “Storytelling vs Corporate Speak” that ran last week delivered a ton of insights that we can now apply to our clients. And not just on the PR side since the exercise involved areas like coding the infographic to maximize sharing.

That’s how I justify the time.


  • Paul Roberts

    Lou, I wanted to tweet ‘middle aged agency head and self proclaimed introvert justifies social media time suck’ but decided against it.

    Seriously, I do like the way you approach this by pointing to the SEO benefit as well as positive image it portrays for your agency.

  • Lou Hoffman

    Thanks Paul.

    I thought this was a healthy exercise to go through.

    Believe the same concepts could be applied to any executive in any industry. The key lies in starting with the big-picture frame; i.e., the role of digital in building the brand.

    P.S. For what it’s worth, I am a proponent that “provocative” justifies the ends (cogent words follow)


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