This month’s theme is from social media to social business, and while I’ve got my regularly scheduled articles in the queue, I wanted to put together a little something extra and review Olivier Blanchard’s Social Media ROI, because I think this is the most important book out there for folks trying to use social media (SM) in a business context.

First, some background on the author: Blanchard is an industry thought leader not only in the SM space, but in the sales and marketing space generally. He runs a great website devoted to, for lack of a better term, Marketing 2.0, and is active on all the major SM channels. You can find out more about him from the horse’s mouth here.

A How-To Consideration of Social Media ROI

So much for Blanchard, now on to his: Social Media ROI (The Book)...

Overall, this is definitely a how-to rather than a theoretical consideration of SM ROI. This isn’t to say that Blanchard is overly-focused on tactics: he’s not. There’s enough theory and strategy here to satisfy those of us who are more philosophically-minded. But he never loses sight of the fact that strategy is a means to an end, not an end in itself…and in terms of this book, that end is delivering monetary value to the business.

And although Blanchard is a consultant and this book is clearly a way to drive business to his practice, it’s safe to say that most folks could use this book to build a fairly successful SM capability without ever hiring any consultants -- an impressive thing in a field where smoke and mirrors prevail and cults of personality have developed around this or that SM guru or E2.0 pundit. It’s refreshing to see Blanchard bring the subject down to earth and talk straight about what firms need to do to succeed. No special sauce or magic bullet, just good old fashioned business blocking and tackling.

The Main Themes

That having been said, the main themes of the book shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone:

  • SM is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end that must have monetary value for the business.
  • SM strategy is a misnomer; what we’re really talking about is business strategy that leverages SM (as well as other capabilities) to succeed in driving monetary results to the business.
  • Success in using SM is not measured in changes in customers SM activity (liking, Tweeting, following, sharing, bookmarking, etc.), but in changes in their buying behaviors.
  • SM ROI must be measured in the same terms that other ROI is measured: dollars and cents.

Blanchard does a fantastic job addressing each of these, both explaining them as well as demonstrating in tangible ways how you can adopt them in your own SM practice.

And for those of you looking for SM-specific strategies, tactics, tips and tricks, fear not: Blanchard packs plenty of these in the book as well, which means that there are lots of practical gems in here for hands-on SM practitioners in the trenches. But he never forgets that these are all means to the end of driving monetary value for the organization, i.e., lowering costs or increasing revenue.

The Final Word

All in all, this is a must read for anyone involved (or even remotely interested) in the business use of SM. But to me, the value of Blanchard’s work goes beyond that: I would recommend Social Media ROI as a good primer on business ROI in general; it just so happens that instead of using operations or product development as an example, he uses SM. But the principles and techniques he covers here are as applicable to more E1.0 business activities as they are to SM.

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