This is one of those "top view" big picture type articles designed  to help you think a little differently about the question of predicting, planning for and delivering ROI for online video and social media campaigns. Return on investment is something that hits every marketing director, brand manager, product manager, social media manager and viral marketing agency square in the face at some point. And if you've ever been hit square in the face, you know that it hurts... and it's hard to cover up.

With little or no thought given to how they will predict, identify and measure ROI, many marketers wait until after a campaign has been launched or is over to evaluate the results. So, instead of trying to be super clever with words, I made an animated video especially for this ReelSEO article to illustrate my point in an entertaining way (content marketing). Far too many video and social media conversations and campaigns go something like this:

Many brands and businesses are buying into online video and social media like they're buying a new car. When you buy a new car you don't usually think in terms of specifically where you will go in the car over the next year and what you will accomplish in the car that will offset your investment. You typically buy a new car based on how it looks, how it drives, how much it costs and in some cases... what your friends are driving.

We should all be looking at online video and social media marketing more like we would look at buying a tractor or a utility vehicle. Will this purchase get the job done? I need to move X number of things every day so I'm going to buy a vehicle that can get that done. And before you even get that far you have to know why you want to move X number of things every day. Otherwise, you're just buying new tools to move things around and while you may look really busy doing it, you may not be accomplishing anything of value.

ALSO ►  Quick Tip: How To Grab YouTube Thumbnail Images

What's The Best Way To Determine ROI?

The most logical and effective way to determine ROI for an online video and social media marketing campaign, tracking and measurement tools aside, is to predict a favorable return on investment prior to beginning your campaign - not halfway through and definitely not after the campaign is over.

  1. Establish goals that, if reached, will generate a return that will exceed your investment.
  2. Assign a budget (your investment) that is less than your predicted return.
  3. Select online video and social media tactics that will achieve the goals.

This way, when all is said and done, you will simply ask "did we reach our goals?" If the answer is yes and your goals, by design, generated returns that exceeded your investment, then you will have achieved a return on your investment!

  • Indian T.v Serials

    Listening to social media is increasingly on people’s radar screens and people are scrambling to understand it. It’s not enough simply to count the buzz, it is important to understand what that buzz really means to your brand

  • David Murdico

    Video SEO Hound, not to be circular in my reasoning but you measure the ROI based on whatever goals you established would constitute a satisfactory ROI in the first place. For example, selling X% more things, achieving X% more mentions online, X% of inbound links to a page or site, X% of increased traffic. Once you establish where you want to be, you build the video marketing creative and tactics to get you there. Then, when (not if) you reach the goal you have achieved ROI.

    • Ronnie Bincer

      @David Thanks for the reply. So you are saying you can establish ROI by simply stating "if we increase our mentions online by 25%" then we have established ROI? How do you measure what increasing mentions online by 25% means as far as $$ goes? Since making a video costs $$, then I would think you would need to be able to equate increased XXX to $$'s somehow.

      I know its difficult, but to me some of what you are saying IS very circular. I think it is just really hard to prove ROI. Setting up goals, is a good idea, however, I just don't know if meeting them proves ROI.

      • Shola Abidoye

        I don't think measuring ROI is difficult at all. If it is based on measurable business metrics that is. And many people (myself included) are utterly disinclined to invest in something (in this case marketing budget) where the results can't be quantified. As an example, check out the facebook eventbrite study (I haven't seen the details of how the measurements where made granted, but I wouldn't mind taking it for granted). According to this case study example,on average, each share on Facebook equals $2.52 in additional revenue for Eventbrite. To apply it to a video marketing example, if it costs $X dollars to produce and promote a video which produces y number of customers who generate $z in lifetime revenues (I'd use an appropriate lifetime customer value figure here...), there you have it. There could be some residual earnings that come along due to branding but to keep it simple, I'm not a big fan of trying to "split test" what you can't measure....There are cheap even free tools to track this down to the T and we're not even going to go into things like global (referral) cookies or things of that nature which makes it even simpler....

        • Ronnie Bincer

          @shola So what then is the value of a: View, Comment, Subscribe, Like (thumbs up)?
          Do you make up a number for their value?...(how do you make it up?)... if you get enough Comments, Likes, Subscribers, then you've got ROI? Is that how it works? Or do you forgo using video because you can't valuate it or actions related to it?

        • Shola Abidoye

          @ Video Seo Hound....just for the record, I'm enjoying the conversation :P...To answer your question, a) I would probably first want to determine the dollar value of a view/comment/subscribe/like based on some estimates. As an exampe, if you were able to build a model that showed that say 100 views translates to $x sales, 1000 comments translates to $x sales. b) I would look at some comparables. As as an example, let's say you are ranking #1 in the youtube search engine for "car insurance". What would it cost to have that position as a sponsored (youtube) video? To be honest, I'd love to see the model that eventbrite used to make their facebook roi calculation regarding how much a facebook "share" was worth (to them $2.52). By the way they also determined that a Twitter share was worth $.43 (link: ). I personally wouldn't allocate any marketing dollars towards the primary conversion goal of a view/comment/subscribe/like UNTIL I knew exactly how each of those variables would effect my bottom line (meaning lead some specific additional revenue or some specific cost reduction).........

  • Ronnie Bincer

    It seems that the points above are valid... but the $64,000 question remains: How do you measure this ROI?

    If the Video links to a landing page, and people do something measurable (or perhaps jet getting there is the action you want) then it is potentially measurable, other wise it fits into the old expression: "50% of my marketing is working, I'm just not sure which 50%". Because... the video is most likely not standing alone in the "marketing efforts" and maybe the "cute factor" of a video causes the emotional decision to actually "buy the thing" now (after researching, comparing, etc.).

  • Shola Abidoye

    I concur. One thing I'd add in terms of goals is using videos to "prequalify" prospects. The thing is, does one browsers or buyers? This is another branding vs. direct response match up. A video that gets someone to smile and say "how cute" then go about their business is one thing. One that gets the viewer to take a specific action (sometimes it may not be a could be a social sharing goal on twitter, facebook, etc, a newsletter subscription, etc). Far to many videos are heavy on the creatives and shamefully sub par with regard to a powerful, effectual call to action....IMHO

    • David Murdico

      Thanks Shola. I agree with you. Here's another article that goes into Entertainment Vs Message in Web Video Marketing


  • Rousnamer

    Excellent points. ROI is too seldom considered when looking at all the glitz and glammor techno-marketing stuff.

  • Grant Crowell

    David, based on your article, how would you choose to define "social media video marketing?" (By "definition," I mean something that can be explained succinctly in a sentence.)

    • David Murdico

      Grant, I would define "social media video marketing" as using online video content that is created and optimized specifically for social media sharing to increase brand and product awareness and encourage various calls to action.