Business Blogging ROI

“What’s the ROI?” is among the most common questions people in business have about social media (right after (Isn’t that risky?”) and as P.F. Anderson says, many of the benefits and costs are intangible.

I’ve previously written about my experience connecting with Tom Vanderwell and how I saw one of his tweets about being a Mayo Clinic patient, which led to me meeting him in Grand Rapids, MI a few days later. This post summarized some of the outgrowths from that first interaction. So I thought it would be helpful to share another video interview with Tom Vanderwell, who has used his Straight Talk about Mortgages and Real Estate blog (and Twitter) successfully in his mortgage lending career.

Tom doesn’t get into the exact dollar return he’s seen through blogging, but he gives examples of the business he’s gotten in states far beyond his western Michigan home base. I would venture that just one of those deals would pay his out-of-pocket costs for blogging for, to be conservative… 50 years.

Of course that doesn’t take his time into account. But in a business like his, where word-of-mouth matters, I’m also betting that some of the loans he has made have led to recommendations for others.

But most importantly, he’s finding a way to grow beyond his narrowly defined geographic base (and one where the economy is even worse than the rest of the country.) And he’s finding an outlet for his passion: he’s able to have a business that’s about helping people instead of always just pushing more loan volume. He can serve his customers and feel good about it.

I say that’s a great return.

SMUG Super Bowl Ad and Social Media ROI

Here’s the Super Bowl Ad you didn’t see on NBC:


Among the reasons for this omission:

  • The ad 34 seconds long, instead of the customary 30;
  • I was about $2.6 million short of the cash required to pay for the airtime; and
  • I created it during the Super Bowl today.

One of the ironies of social media is that everyone asks about the ROI, or return on investment. It’s an understandable question, but one of the points I make in presentations is that as I (investment) approaches zero, ROI approaches infinity, because it is calculated as follows:

ROI = benefits/costs

My cost of producing this stellar Super Bowl ad wasn’t exactly zero, but it was zero out-of-pocket. I already had invested $150 in the Flip video camera used to record it, and the production took a bit of my time and attention as I enjoyed the game .

I expect the benefits to be non-monetary as well, measured mainly in the satisfaction of getting more people involved in exploring social media. I hope you will use the ShareThis tool below to pass this post (with its embedded ad) along to your friends and co-workers who might benefit from becoming a SMUGgle, and invite them to enroll. I think it captures the essence of SMUG in a brief video snippet (but how did I manage to leave Blogging out?!)

Then we’ll see what happens to the SMUG enrollment, currently at 261 members of our Facebook group.

Updated: I originally had embedded the ad in the Facebook player, but I’m wondering whether that might be responsible for a SMUG slowdown, so I took that version down, at least for now. But you can see the higher-resolution Facebook version in the SMUG Facebook group.

Updated 2/3/09: Here’s the same video in a Blip.TV player. Another post coming on the topic of video players soon: