Erik Qualman is the author of “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business.” I interviewed Qualman to learn more about how companies should invest in social media — a topic that he will be speaking about at this year’s Social Media Success Summit. An edited version of his responses follows.

What are some ways that social media indirectly generates profits for businesses?
Ask any [chief marketing officer] what is the most important thing for their business, and they will answer that it’s word-of mouth. Social media is word of-mouth on digital steroids. It turns word of mouth into world of mouth, which can generate monumental returns for any business.
What are some social media-related costs that businesses sometimes overlook?
Over 50% of business found it was more work than they expected. The most overlooked cost for big and small businesses is the soft-cost in terms of the hours employees must commit to engage properly in the space.
What are some metrics that businesses can use to determine exactly how much profit their social media campaigns are generating?
It’s funny. Only 18% of TV campaigns produce a positive [return on investment], yet this is still where the lion’s share of marketing expenses go. You can track most social media efforts to lead, sale, etc. However if you only focus on these type of metrics you are doing yourself a tremendous disservice, as you may not invest in items that have longer term gains. I like to say it’s like asking the ROI of your phone.
To learn more top tips and best practices for social media from industry experts including Guy Kawasaki, Brian Solis, and Jeremiah Owyang, register for the the 100% online Social Media Success Summit. For access to the whole session and many others, sign up here. (SmartBrief is a partner in this event.)

Image credit: AustinArtist, via iStockphoto

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2 Responses to “A look at social media costs and returns with Erik Qualman”

  1. M. Van Kempen says:

    Ha ha, I sure don't agree with Eric Qualman! Social media is about Online Interaction and the examples he and other 'social media experts' are talking about are just fine examples of one way old schoool broadcasting where indeed the ROI couldn't be determined. It just shows the difference in quality, hopefully companies finally start to realize that they need a real social media ROI model, such as e.g. on http://onlinenetworking.biz instead of flashy presentations and books to work with.

  2. David Snodgrass says:

    This guys book socialnomics is a great read.