What's the point of social media? Is it worth the investment?

In 2014, you wouldn't think I'd feel compelled to write this up. But I do. It's still a question I hear come up from time to time.

Almost all companies have put some effort into social. More than likely there's some Facebook page, Twitter account or Instagram profile setup on behalf of most organizations. They've probably been set up for some time at this point. Even so, there's a chance the CEO may still have some hesitation about the value of social.

Is it worth putting money into? What's the return on investment?

They may not be seeing tangible results of social - and rightfully so. There's a good chance this whole digital thing is a lot of money being spent for little to no return.

There's also a chance that they aren't doing social right in the first place - which rarely has a positive impact on ROI.

So how do you determine ROI? Figure out what you're trying to do in the first place.

You can't flip a Facebook page on, post a few things and wait for the magic to happen. You have to have a reason to be there.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Do you want web traffic?

Trying to drive purchase (or donations)?

Want to get a better pulse of your customers and serve them better?

Want to educate customers on what you do?

Raise awareness about your organization.

All of those are legitimate reasons for spending time and resources on social media. They're objectives that you would be trying to achieve somehow and there's a chance social is the most efficient way to do so.

Even if it isn't the most efficient means for you today, social is the way people communicate the most. We spend more time staring down at our phones than up at a TV screen or billboard. Investing in social could mean investing in the future of your organization. Building a strong social presence - the right way - takes time. Longer than a quarterly earnings report typically allows for.

So what's the ROI of social? You have to figure out what your reason for being there first. Without that, it's impossible to have tangible goals. Without those, the ROI discussion will always frustrate you.