May 07, 2012, 7:13 AM — Getting a positive return on investment from a social media campaign is about more than tracking the number of your Facebook fans and Twitter followers. It's about linking the social strategy to measurable business objectives, according to Gartner, which says most businesses aren't doing this.
A new study released this week from the technology consultancy says that half of Fortune 1000 companies will not receive a worthwhile ROI on their social media strategies this year. The rather basic advice to get more bang for your social media buck: Have a plan, measure its success and make changes if it's not working. "One of the keys is to know what you're trying to accomplish," says Scott Nelson, a Gartner analyst who focuses on social media strategies for enterprises. "Doing social media because everyone else is doing it is not a strategy."
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Nelson says most companies adopt a plan for one of four reasons: to increase revenue, decrease costs, increase satisfaction of customers or employees, or to use it as an extension of brand. No matter the reason for using social media, it must be accompanied with a plan of action linked to metrics that will measure its success. "For the 50% of Fortune 1000 organizations not determining, or even measuring, ROI, ignorance will mean failed projects," says Adam Sarner, research director at Gartner. "Among the companies who will not see a worthwhile return, only 20% will even have the data to evaluate where their social strategy is falling short. These organizations will be unable to justify future funding."