The Greatest Twitter ROI Story Ever Told

twitter_roiWhether you are a zealous believer in or dubious skeptic about the role of social media in the technology marketing mix, you most likely join the chorus of people wondering aloud about the ROI it delivers. With the variety of social tools and applications at marketers’ disposal – combined with hundreds, if not thousands, of possible communications objectives – there are virtually limitless permutations of form an ROI calculation can take. I thought I’d share a recent experience of mine that distills down social media ROI to one day and one decision.

Opportunity knocks
The second week of July, I had the opportunity to meet with a new prospect (who shall remain identified only as ClientX in this post.) The chance for an introductory meeting was presented on a Monday; we confirmed the date for the following Wednesday. The meeting was going to be a general capabilities pitch – learn about the client’s possible needs and align them to our full range of offerings. I prepared a version of our core Powerpoint deck and was ready to go by Tuesday.

Our meeting was scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon. An hour. As I was heading out the door to make the 20-minute drive to the prospect’s office, I returned to my desk quickly to pick up a document I nearly forgot and saw my TweetDeck screen staring at me. I am not a hardcore Twitter user by most definitions. I tweet three or four times per day on average and don’t regularly tweet every coming and going. Nothing wrong with that tactic, mind you (if done appropriately), but I just haven’t escalated to that level yet. But at that moment, I felt the sudden inspiration to tweet about my upcoming meeting. I leaned over to my keyboard, pounded out “Off to meet with our new friends at ClientX” in about six seconds and out the door I went.

The tweet heard around the world (or at least Orange County)
I arrived at the meeting on time. Was shown to the conference room, set up the projector and laptop…you know the drill. I had never spoken with the person with whom I was meeting since a colleague of mine arranged the presentation. The prospect came into the conference room about five minutes late, set down his binder and we exchanged business cards. He eyed my card and, as he excused himself briefly to get some water, said with an air of amused recognition “Drew. Yeah, I saw you on Twitter.” He walked out.

I sat there momentarily wondering what he meant. He saw ME on Twitter? When he returned, he explained that the reason he was slightly late for our meeting was that he was in an internal session discussing their company’s future plans and policies for social media. To illuminate the potential of Twitter to his team, he apparently ran a quick Twitter search of his company name and what should he find at the top of the results page but a tweet from the agency he was about to meet with. Ding, ding! To be honest, until that moment, I had completely forgotten that I had even written that tweet in the first place.

At the end of a very productive meeting, we uncovered that ClientX was actually preparing to review agencies and PR firms who “got social media.” Long story short, after preparing a qualifying proposal the following week, we were awarded our first project for the client – an online video – and are optimistic to expand the relationship beyond that.

Seconds of effort can lead to thousands of dollars
When I returned to the office that evening after my presentation, I shared with the staff the potential financial consequences of that one tweet. Yes, I presented our portfolio of work, which was compelling and well-received. But the impact of having my simple tweet read on the heels of such a timely internal meeting was evidently quite an eye-opener for the client.

So, the ROI? Here’s how I see the numbers breaking down based upon my hourly rate:

  • Price for first project awarded: $14,000
  • minus price to prepare capabilities presentation (approx. one hour): $150
  • minus price for pitch meeting time and travel (approx two and a half hours): $375
  • minus project proposal writeup (approx two hours): $250
  • minus cost for one tweet (approx six seconds): $.04
  • ROI for landing first project: $13,224.96

High-level visibility, bottom-line benefit
This example provides stark evidence supporting the importance of being visible via social media, of perpetually connecting with prospects and clients (particularly when they least expect it), and of the very real power of real-time search. To hit such a bull’s eye with that tweet a mere 30 minutes after I typed it was amazing. But not a fluke, I submit. So much of successful marketing is being in the right place at the right time. Social media is the most cost-effective way to do just that.

Yes, this was a case of exquisite timing and fortunate coincidence. But that one tweet may have singularly tipped things in our favor. While I can’t attribute landing the account solely on that tweet, I think it’s safe to say it was the best six seconds (and four cents) I spent that day.

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