Though social media marketing has now become almost a universal practice, the question of whether or not its value can be quantified with any precision remains open.

Does social media marketing produce measurable ROI—and if so, how does one measure it? Or is social media marketing just a required practice because of its value for content marketing, customer service, market engagement, web presence optimization, and SEO—whether its ROI can be determined with any accuracy or not?

Despite well-crafted arguments from sources like John Heggestuen on Business Insider that social media ROI is a myth, and Angie Schottmuller on Search Engine Watch making the opposite case (and providing more than two dozen formulas for measuring the return on social media efforts), the social media ROI debate rages on.

Six experts continue the argument below, three on each side of the issue. What do you think?

You can’t calculate ROI from social media…

Analyze This: A Social Media Measurement Process by FeedBlitz

Yvette PistorioYvette Pistorio shares tips from Jay Baer on social media measurement, such as the importance of selecting the right social media marketing metrics to track, and doing so as early as possible in the social marketing process. She contends that calculating the ROI of social media “can be difficult with social media so you may want to take a look at how your efforts tie to business success over the long haul.”


The Death Of Social ROI — Companies Are Starting To Drop The Idea That They Can Track Social Media’s Dollar Value by Business Insider

John HeggenstuenAre brands moving away from trying to quantify the ROI of social media marketing? Yes, writes John Heggestuen, who reports that “Between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of marketers using a revenue-per-customer metric on social media went from 17% to 9%, according to the February 2013 CMO survey.” Brands are instead focusing on reach, engagement and sentiment metrics.


CMOs On Social Media – Where’s The ROI? by Forbes

Dorie ClarkDorie Clark reports on a survey of CMOs which found that “Almost half (49%) said they aren’t able to quantify whether social media has made a difference for their companies, while 36% said they had a good sense of qualitative – though not quantitative – results. Only a meager 15% said they’ve seen a proven quantitative impact.” Lack of a clear strategy often contributes to the inability to quantify results.


…of course you can! And here’s how.

Social Media ROI: 11 FREE Tools for Measuring Social Media Success by Search Engine Watch

Chuck PriceCan the ROI of social media marketing be measured? Chuck Price reports that Nicole Harrison is “adamant that social media done correctly will deliver results and recommended the following list of 11 free tools for measuring both ROI and social media success,” including SocialMention, TweetReach and Keyhole.


10 Examples of Social Media ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] by Social Media Today

Pam DyerContrary to the story above, Pam Dyer presents an infographic which illustrates 10 real-world examples of social media ROI for brands, such as Kraft’s “National Thank You Day” campaign for Toblerone, which drove half a million website visits and increased sales of Toblerone by 132%.


Calculating ROI from Social Media – Problems, Pitfalls & Breaking all the things… by Distilled
***** 5 STARS

Hannah SmithContending that “ROI is a woefully poor measure of the success or failure of social media activity…(not a bad metric but) it’s misunderstood and often misappropriated,” Hannah Smith proceeds to explain the calculation, uses and limitations of ROI analysis, and suggests other metrics (related to brand perceptions and reputation management) that may be more suitable for measuring the value of social media initiatives.