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September 1, 2010

Social Media ROI: The Squirrel Method

2 minute read, in Behaviour / Brand Strategy / Perception / Social Networking

Recently, during a pleasant summer morning cuddled up with my daughters watching a gripping episode of Avatar, the Last Airbender, something caught my eye. It’s hard to do that during Avatar. But, senses aroused, I trained my eye on the mirror in my living room and saw it. There was a squirrel in the house.

Squirrel intruder

Creative Commons License photo credit: robertpaulyoung

My three year old had left the back door open and was about to be entertained by an hour’s worth of effort to get the squirrel out.

At the end of the hour, we left Jodi with the scared bushy-tailed fellow now clinging to a window moulding and went out for ice-cream.We tried opening the doors and disappearing upstairs. We tried whistling, coaxing, and googling. To no avail.

And she got him out. By leaving a trail of peanut butter drops out the door.

Flash forward to Monday morning.

Over a breakfast meeting, I was being asked the usual hard questions about Social Media ROI. How do I quantify the return? How do I qualify the investment?  I counter-grilled by trying to get at what magical metrics they were getting from what they were doing previously.

Apart from announcing a sale one day and asking the people who show up where they heard about the event, it’s pretty hard to quantify your ROI. Most of us do business with brands we trust. But I doubt those brands factor what it took for them to be perceived as trustworthy (employees with a good upbringing? delivering on time? clear communications?) into their calculations.

Over the course of the meeting, I had successfully transformed the entrepreneur’s perspective on the benefits of planning to use the web strategically before jumping at tactics. He felt comfortable articulating to his partners the value of earning the attention of more qualified leads and building relationships with them.

As we were leaving, an analogy struck me. Not that your prospects are squirrels, but when you earn their attention with something they’re interested in, lead them where you want them to go, and back off on the hard sell, you end up with a process where everyone wins.

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