The 3 Functions of Social Media for ROI (Part I)

August 10, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   Comments Off on The 3 Functions of Social Media for ROI (Part I)

The 3 prime functions of social media

Discussions on measuring the value of a social media presence are often greeted by deflective statements or blank stares.

Most companies struggle to make sense of social media let alone understand how to assign value to the activity that could in some way relate to a business objective.

However if you understand that ALL social media boils down to one or a combination of three prime functions, deciphering activity, setting objectives and measuring value becomes easier. It doesn’t matter if you are connecting customers, employees or partners, it all about:

  • – Informing
  • – Innovating
  • – Executing

 3 Functions

Figure 2 Social media activity boils down to three areas


Informing is the most common function in social media: with most companies using inform strategies to develop brand awareness or to communicate critical information to key audiences.

From a website perspective this includes more structured communication channels such as Digg, Reddit or even Wikileaks. While the first two leverage user intelligence to uncover relevant information, Wikileaks seeks to by-pass traditional information hierarchies and connect end users with information of concern to them.


Figure 3 Digg harnesses user votes to determine which stories are prioritized to the top of the page

In terms developing brand awareness or communicating situational messages (such as in disaster management) pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc are utilized by organizations to build awareness and influence through sending key messages in individuals newsfeeds.


Figure 4 Audi is one company to use social media to inform its advocates of the value it brings their community

The inform abilities of Twitter are so powerful that companies are mining its data to measure sentiment and predict stock prices! So far its proving to be more accurate that traditional financial models by an average of 10%!


 The other real value that we are seeing more and more is the ability of social media to inform during times of crisis. For many companies preparing for, or managing a crisis requires significant resources if its to be handled properly. However there are times when communicating about an encroaching crisis is crucial in saving lives.

In 2011 when a tsunami hit Japan following a large earthquake Twitter reports were first to carry the news. When Queensland, Australia experienced huge floods in 2012 social media was not only the most immediate source of the emerging information it also assisted emergency services in coordinating response resources… Similarly Haiti and Turkey earthquakes, and in crises in Africa, social media has been used repeatedly to coordinate crises of all kinds.

Realistically a majority of communities start out with a focus to inform. Realizing value in the other two areas (innovate and execution) is completely possible up front, though are usually realized once a community has been established.

The benefit in starting with an Inform focus is that its an easier starting point for established leaders to understand as it aligns closely to traditional communication methodologies and enables you to contribute to conversations and make your views part of the discussion.



By @Wardsco

Scott (31 Posts)

CEO Digital Infusions

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