Just to make sure we’re all on the same page – ROI = Return on Investment, which according to just about everything on the Wikipedia page revolves around money versus time
In finance, rate of return (ROR), also known as return on investment (ROI), rate of profit or sometimes just return, is the ratio of money gained or lost (realized or unrealized) on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. The amount of money gained or lost may be referred to as interest, profit/loss, gain/loss, or net income/loss. The money invested may be referred to as the asset, capital, principal, or the cost basis of the investment. ROI is usually expressed as a percentage rather than a fraction.
Now onto the point of discussion. It all started earlier this evening when Jeremy Toeman posted this statement on Friendfeed
i have to say, friendfeed is actually *losing* value to me, not gaining it. if i don’t put in crazy energy here, pretty much nobody likes/comments my stuff, which pretty much makes using the site a waste of time. on a "ROI of my energy" perspective, my blog, Twitter, and even IM is seems like a better use of my time…
Which quickly blossomed into a full blown discussion due to the early input by Robert Scoble, who also posted a follow-up item on Friendfeed about Jeremy’s posted comment. Now I’m not even going to try and parse the conversation that developed between the two comments because that’s not the point of this post. That doesn’t mean that it’s not interesting and well worth reading.
What I am curious about though, is this idea that there is some sense of Return on (time) Investment when it comes to social media. Social Media isn’t about e-commerce. It isn’t about conversions. It isn’t about marketing or public relations. Yet in some ways it is about all of those things and a lot more.
At the root of it all it is about the conversation which in turn can mean many things to everybody involved. When it comes to Social Media though are we placing too much value on the financial aspects of the conversations and our time required to produce that financial consideration?
Personally I don’t like the idea of associating things like ROI with Social Media as it puts too much emphasis on doing everything we can to promote ourselves to the top of the pile. It becomes about using the tools rather than promoting the conversation. It becomes about the popularity rather than the content.
Popularity can be achieved rather cheaply but required a lot of time to maintain. Content that provides true value on the other hand isn’t created cheaply but once out there takes little to maintain. The conversation then can revolve around the quality of the item or quantity of the items. At neither point though does true ROI come into the equation, nor should it I believe.
Do you think that ROI should be a consideration when it comes to Social Media (not the tools) and if so why?
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