Posted June 26, 2012 3:06 pm by with 0 comments

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Before social media, the success of a marketing campaign was generally measured by ROI — how much did we make, versus how much we spend.

But when talking about Facebook, Twitter, or other social media campaigns, that number is rather illusive and sometimes non-existent. This leads us to the discussion of brand awareness versus conversions, which leads me to a great quote from AdAge.

In a recent interview, Erich Marx, Nissan’s director-interactive and social-media marketing said,

“From a pure ROI standpoint, are we selling hundreds of cars through social? No. But social media has to be a responsible part of any media package now. You have to be there. It’s not about ROI, it’s about COI– cost of ignoring. It’s too big to ignore.”

That’s the most honest analysis I’ve ever seen from a marketing exec. We all knew it was true, but few had the guts to stand up and say it. Social media is a marketing must, even if it doesn’t add to your bottom line.

Crazy, huh? Where else would we devote time, effort, and funds for no results? Would you keep working a garden if nothing ever grew? Would you keep playing Angry Birds if you couldn’t get past the first level? And yet, we all rush to social media because it is, indeed, too big to ignore.

Now, I’m not saying you should walk away from Facebook. I’ve stated it here time and again, that any brand without a Facebook page comes across as old fashioned or not too smart. But do you have to have a Google+ account, a Pinterest account, and please don’t tell me you’re still on MySpace?

The real question is why isn’t Nissan selling hundreds of cars through social? We’ve seen the power of social media, so how is it that we still can’t translate that into concrete sales? According to AdAge, Nissan has the highest social media engagement rate of any of the car companies. What they’re doing right is including their community in the evolution of the brand. They ask for ideas and personal stories, they feature their fans in their campaigns and that’s social media done right.

I think Nissan’s on the right track with social media, whether it’s for ROI or COI and I wouldn’t be surprised if one day they sold a car right from their Facebook page. Imagine the publicity they’d get for that? It could be the dawn of a whole new era of social ecommerce.

What do you think? Is social media too big to ignore and is that reason enough to put your time and money into campaigns that don’t pay the bills?