Follow us:

Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 10, 2010 at 2:45 PM

Fishkin’s hard look at ROI of Twitter, social media

I’m a little late writing about this, but I keep thinking about a blog entry that Seattle SEO guru Rand Fishkin posted a few days ago, analyzing the ROI on social media marketing.

Fishkin said the traffic and response from using Twitter, Facebook and other community sites is immediate and gratifying. But he warns that they can drain time and energy away from other online efforts with greater monetary payback.

His hypothesis is that most marketers engaging in social media aren’t doing it because it produces greater return on investment “but because the metrics are more immediately tangible and emotionally rewarding.”

Of course, Fishkin is in the business of supporting search engine marketers, but it’s still a thoughtful take on the currently hyped phenomenon. An excerpt:

Social media engagement, whether it’s building a name for yourself on Twitter, growing your connections on Facebook, increasing the number of followers on Digg or ratcheting up your popularity in a niche service or forum, produces some very compelling results. Changing some title tags, tweaking internal links or writing an article on a boring, business-relevant subject may bring more direct financial ROI per hour invested, but the metrics don’t FEEL as emotionally rewarding.

Twitter generated 14,928 visits to his site during one period (compared with 666,642 from Google) that he shared to support his theory.

“That’s huge, right?

Here’s the problem… It’s also the lowest converting traffic of any referral source — less than half that of aggregate Google referrals.

I grant that direct referrals are never the whole story, and that there is real branding, marketing and user acquisition value to the traffic, participation and effort spent in social media. What I worry about is whether these intangibles are worth the expenditure.”

Comments | More in | Topics: Facebook, rand fishkin, ROI

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►