I recently read a good blog at Search Engine Optimization Journal by Nick Stamoulis – Can Social Media Marketing Be Measured? He makes some great points that I feel are worth repeating (and elaborating on) regarding the measurement of social media marketing efforts.

I think people and companies are getting too caught up in the measurement of ROI in order to justify social media marketing efforts. To Nick’s point, even an ROI number is not really a true number with social media as there are too many other factors that go into it. Social media marketing should be about building a following, a community around what it is you do. You might have a LinkedIn page or group where you share content; a Twitter account and Facebook page where you do the same. You may blog and comment on blogs that you follow. All of these efforts work together to form online brand visibility and awareness and it’s like the old adage – the sum is greater than the individual parts.

Social media marketing is not something that has a clear, definitive ending point – and it shouldn’t. When you create a brand presence offline, your efforts never really stop. They evolve and morph into various media channels depending on your target market – print, collateral, events, advertising, and radio – and all work hard collectively to build awareness. Social media marketing is similar to this except you’re doing it online through a different set of channels – blog, Twitter, Facebook, corporate website, or content aggregators such as StumbleUpon and Reddit.

We advise our clients that social media is powerful, but it needs time to build momentum and it shouldn’t be stopped. Look for other ways to measure social media effectiveness – followers, fans, or the number of times someone shares your content. While as a holistic, long term effort, it may not be measured monetarily, building a strong online brand and being able to bring customers, prospects, and partners into online dialogue will have a good effect on your bottom line.

In a later post we’ll discuss some social media marketing efforts that CAN be measured financially.