Ad Agency New Business: Just Forget Your Social Media ROI

Okay, don’t literally forget it, but center your expectations around awareness and you’re going to be much happier.  The ROI will come.

Take a look at an article this week from eMarketer about brands not concerning themselves so much with the specific ROI of social media but instead placing the value on insights and loyalty. Per the article:

This suggests that, despite the real need for return on social media marketing investments, marketers are largely not worrying about putting an exact dollar value on each Facebook fan or Twitter follower—as if such an amount could be accurate. And they are keeping in mind some of the less-obvious qualities of brand fans, like as a source of market research.

Sounds like this came more from necessity than desire, tough to put a dollar amount on that ROI.

So what does that mean for your agency new business program?  Take the example of  The Ad Contrarian blog, written by Bob Hoffman of Hoffman/Lewis. Many of you are probably familiar with it.

Bob got some folks all riled up a few weeks ago lambasting Pepsi’s social media Refresh Project and has made a name for himself the past several years with his blog.

Not everyone agrees with Bob’s posts, in fact a lot don’t, but one thing you must give him is that he is authentic, original and outspoken. Not sure how much his blog does for the agency in terms of new business (there’s that pesky ROI), but he has certainly achieved an impressive awareness factor.  Interestingly, the very vehicle he harangues fairly often (social media) is what’s increased this awareness.

(Make note that Bob actually doesn’t lambast social media overall as a vehicle for advertising, so much as the buzz words, hucksterism and slavish dedication by those who adhere to it like a shipwreck survivor to a piece of flotsam.)

We can point to about four clients since July 2009 that have come on board partly or wholly due to our social media efforts. Took more than a year for that to happen though, and we planned on that, awareness came first.


As Vice President of Sales at RSW/US, Lee drives sales efforts to bring ad agencies and marketing services firms on board with RSW, creates content around successful new business tactics and takes part in RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. You can find him on LinkedIn ( or Twitter (@leemcknightjr).