commented on my blog about Return On Social Investment
(ROSI). It took me a while to think about his comment: "We'd need to start with defining a measure for social investment" he said. The problem to solve is the difference and relation between the value, valuation, measuring and managing of social interaction. For example: a smile can make a difference in someones life. In a bar or restaurant you wouldn't tip someone who isn't friendly and isn't smiling. You might want to add an extra 5% or 10% to the bill if you had a pleasant stay and the service came with a smile. You could say the smile was worth 10% of the customers payment. That is the valuation of the smile in a tangible value. Of course that smile has intangible values as well. The intrinsic value of the smile has many dimensions. You could ask the waiter or waitress whether she likes to work at this place and when the smile is genuine he or she would probably say yes. It does not cost the person any effort to smile. It is just there. In business economic terms the intrinsic value is the value of all assets minus all debts. If the smile has no debts, for example the person does not owe the boss something and therefor has to smile, you could say the smile is just an asset. In social interaction the intrinsic value (the smile) is just there or not. So define in your company, team or relationship what should be socially there, for example that smile, happiness or a pleasant interaction, and see if it is there or not. Measuring your ROSI is a matter of checking off your checklist and see if it is there or not. With social media it is more easy to measure whether it was there or not. Just ask the customer to rate the interaction or service with a star or smiley. Now for the part of investment and return. There isn't a 'make my employee smile in a box product' you can buy of the shelf. It is more likely that you have to invest in social principles in your company, a healthy work climate, and a good product or service that makes your employee smile. This is where the managing part comes in. Of course you can force your employee to smile. He or she gets a bonus or a punishment if he or she does or does not smile, but I guess that customers will feel this and it will not have a long term positive result on the account balance. I think that an indirect approach, managing the environment and conditions, will have more effect. Managing the value is managing with that value, So manage with a smile, with happiness and a pleasant interaction if that is what you'd like to achieve. There are companies who understand this and build there company on social principles. Look for the ones who grew fast in the last few years and have great customer ratings. One difference between ROI and ROSI is that ROI has a more tangible approach. You invest in predefined products, services, equipment, training, etc. and there is a clear relation between investment and return. You can measure the growth. With ROSI you can measure whether a social aspect is there or not and therefor is a counting strategy, where ROI is an accounting strategy. So don´t let accountants be in charge of the counting. You will probably end up with an accounting problem. Let customers do the counting and give them tools to add (like, rate and rank). I think this will also please the accountants when they look at the sales and profit. The nice part of ROSI is that it doesn't have to cost much. Sometimes it only takes a smile. I was inspired by Daan Andriessen who did research on the valuation and measuring of intellectual capital
and the many people who smiled at me. Hereby my appreciation for them. So what is on your ROSI checklist?