As a passionate advocate of determining Social Media ROI, my interest was piqued when I stumbled on the article: “Is social media actually helping your company’s bottom line” by Frank Cespedes. When I opened it to see the dominate #NOPE image staring me in the face, I became fired up to learn what this Harvard Business contributor has against the topic of Social Media ROI?

With a few good points, backed up with extremely reputable studies, I just can’t help but offer a rebuttal based on my own experience; found in real world testing rather than in statistical publications.

It quickly became clear that Mr. Cespedes is trying to kill social media.

By dedicating an entire article to the reasons social media provides “little value”, I decided to exploit the most common reasons companies are not seeing value in their social media efforts; yet certainly have the ability to.

For those sitting back in their office making “age old” distinctions on the how to market rather than listening to customers and adjusting in an agile format; explains why companies will continue to see results of this “statistical data” play out in real life.

But it doesn’t have to! So don’t feel bound by these studies.

I’ve experienced a different reality, based on results, that demands attention which I will spend the rest of the article discussing. The idea that a digital marketing strategy a “useless wastes time and resources” is the laziest opinion I’ve ever heard about how to actually create results from Social Media Marketing.

Breaking down Mr. Cespedes considerations:


In the first section Mr. Cespedes actually addresses the most harmful mistake frequently made when it comes to determining Social Media ROI.  It’s dangerous to focus on vanity metrics such as “likes, tweets, reviews, and click-through-rates (CTRs) for online ads — not cause-and-effect links between the medium and market results.”

Advanced marketers care very little about measuring these underachieving metrics that he has placed so much emphasis on.

At this juncture it would have been wise to elaborate on the steps to actually monitor and monetize the “cause and effects links” that are actually quite capable of determining social market results.

Instead, he goes on to explain how internet marketing resources are spent on “buying” social media fans.

Is this a problem?

No doubt!

Does this mean buying fans is the reason companies can’t determine their social media ROI? Absolutely!

With skewed data and unrealistic results this punishable social marketing practice has intense consequences that can be felt across multiple marketing touch points.

Facebook has no plans of dying the slow death, mentioned by Cespedes, that MySpace experienced and are continuously making adjustments to ensure their longevity.

Facebook knows what they are doing.

1. They understand a LOT of fan bating  has taken place and have implemented steps to stop this abuse; going as far as removing purchased or fake fans.

2. Facebook has adjusted their algorithm which promptly rewards business pages who are creating amazing content. So for the big brands who are seeing less than 1% interaction on their page, there is an easy explanation. Their content sucks! They are clearly not telling their communities the message they want to hear. Big brands aren’t excused from providing valuable content and its seen in the lack of community engagement and are also experiencing low engagement rates as a result.

Bottom line. A companies advertising efforts should act in a revers crescendo affect that ends in a high quality organic reach. Problem is, not many companies are creating the kind of content that results in high performing organic results.

Doesn’t mean it’s not possible. In fact here are some examples: 


social media marketing case studies


You’ll find they all have one thing in common; They add value through showcasing customers using this combination

1. Amazing Content!

2. Facebook Dark Posts

3. Highly Targeted Ads


This is the beauty of social media marketing, it levels the marketing playing field. But businesses have to know how to play the game; rather than discouraged by “every one else’s” results.

The most alarming comment I read was, “It’s now common to say that social media is “really” about awareness, not sales”; and there we find the problem.

Companies who don’t yet understand that customers are more important than sales will not make it through the next generation of business. You don’t have sales without customers, and if you don’t know how to communicate with customers you won’t have sales.

The perspective Bill BernbachDavid Ogilvy, and other ad execs have emphasized, “our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise, not ourselves”, reveals the reason why big businesses are having so much trouble understanding that there is, in fact, a measurable format to determine social media ROI, through social engagement.

Gary Vaynerchuck sums up the benefits of this kind of  one-to-one customer experience in his book “The Thank You Economy” The results are not only measurable, but also leads to effective social success.


Again, he doesn’t find his metrics based on national reports or statistical surveys. Rather he highlights some pretty compelling case studies, based on reality.

What’s the point?


Marketing has evolved to the point where the product and business personality are one in the same. People no longer want to buy the product unless they can get behind what the business stands for. In fact we see more product shunning now than ever, and it’s not Facebook’s fault.

I do agree that the buying process is difficult to measure due to the fact that people purchase for different reasons. However, technology has advanced to the point that we now have the ability to use some pretty snarky tools that ensure companies are able to be present during pivotal buying  stages. But this information must be used wisely rather than as just another opportunity to interrupt.

The new Purchasing process includes:


1. Online Research

2. Brand determination

3. Review requests

4. Monitor legitimacy

5. Purchase decision


All of these broad scope touch-points can be observed using these “6 Social Media Monitoring Tools

Where I do agree with Mr. Cespedes is “Technology changes fast!” That’s why you can’t have the same strategy today that you had a month ago. The only way you know how to make the right adjustments, based on what your clients want, is to monitor advanced metrics and adjust!

According to one of Forbes Top 10 Social Media Influencers, Pam Moore  says it’s not about “doing social media”, but about “incorporating social into my business, to drive business results.”



I agree, “It’s time to expect more from social media and prove it.” That’s exactly what I mean to accomplish with each of my clients.

Start now by signing up for my 6 Steps to Determine your Social Media ROI sent directly to your inbox.