Calculating CPM For Social Media Marketing is Like Pounding Square Pegs Into Round Holes!

Almost every medium and marketing platform has been tagged as “new” at one time. Newspaper ads, Radio, then TV spots, Billboards, Electronic signs, fliers, direct mail marketing, newsletters, hot air balloons, vehicle wraps, specialty items, trade shows, sponsorships, telemarketing… the list goes on. Online marketing entered the fray in a big way starting in the early ’90s.

Most marketers and advertisers have generally always sorted and rated the plethora of mediums by applying a “cost-per-thousand” or CPM to each. CPM is a commonly used bench marks in the advertising industry and is mathematically formulated to state an ad rate at the cost per 1,000 views, for either individual mediums or for entire marketing campaigns utilizing multiple mediums. You may have also heard this referred to as the cost of “impressions.”

It took some time to figure it out and lots of new terms were coined in the process, but CPM analysis was soon easily applied to most internet marketing methods. Banner advertising, pop-ups or pop-under ads, email or list marketing, search marketing, AdWords, etc can all be measured for CPM, albeit in a little more detail – click through rates and other such stats now adds CPA or “cost-per-action” into the equation.

FACT: Try as you might, you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole! Also a fact: you can’t make decisions about new media if you’re measuring it with old media metrics!

The majority of marketers (including me) have been taught that CPM forms the building blocks for decision making. If you have a budget and know your CPM, then with just a little spreadsheet work you can develop an entire media plan. It’s the metric that most advertisers know, understand, and negotiate on.

Here’s the problem: when you use an old media metric (CPM) to measure new media, you can’t measure it properly. As a result, you miss out on amazing opportunities! It’s the same reason why you don’t use a slide rule to measure the sky.

FACT: Social media requires new rules for determining its value to the company or professional who is engaging an audience with it! Social networks are simply an evolution of something that has happened for thousands of years – people forming groups of like-minded people, getting together to discuss things, making recommendations, complaining, etc. The internet has made it possible to bring those conversations together with much larger groups, mind-boggling reach and amazing immediacy.

“Okay then” you say, “how do I determine what social media platforms or new media tools to use? What gives me the best return on investment (ROI)? I can tell you that there are four key engagements that I recommend when getting started. In no particular order, they are Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. There ways to measure the effectiveness of these once you have started engaging, but you won’t be able to calculate ROI before you begin. Do NOT let that scare you away! Many decisions are made without calculating ROI.

What’s the ROI of the paint on your walls? What’s the ROI on the landscaping you did in your yard? What’s the ROI of your executive assistant, your massage therapist or your children? Nobody thinks about ROI with these things right? But for some reason, because the word “media” is attached to “social media” we need to measure its ROI first before we do anything? In business or otherwise, the idea that everything has to come back to a measurable ROI is simply ludicrous.

As I said earlier, don’t think that not determining some precise ROI before you engage in social media precludes you from measuring your social media efforts once you’ve started. You should, and there are lots of ways to do it. You will be measuring metrics that most often cannot be expressed in the language of CPM, and you will need to stay the course and effectively engage for a reasonable amount of time before measurement is meaningful.

Ultimately, success in social media comes down to your ongoing commitment, having something to say that will interest your audience, and ultimately… getting over your fear of jumping in! Those with the least amount of fear are those who will be doing it first, and they will be the ones who succeed.

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