ROI is a hot topic.

Discussions surrounding the return on investment of social media have been prevalent lately, and with good reason. In a tightening economy, businesses are scrutinizing their spending and anxious to ensure that their resources are being allocated wisely.

The discussion of ROI has focused mostly on the search for the holy grail of a metric, but adapting traditional metrics to fit social media would be akin to sticking a square peg in a round hole.

But what does "return on investment" really stand for in a business? Roughly translated, it means the value we expect to get out of all the effort we put into something. It's the definition of the output (return) from an input (investment).

But here's the trick: ignoring the input, or doing nothing in social media, will surely guarantee no return at all.

So, then, what is the "Return on Ignoring" social media? Here are some perspectives from the front lines.

The following interviews were recorded at the MarketingProfs Digital Mixer in Scottsdale, AZ in fall 2008. This is the first article in a series that will explore the importance of social media in the marketing mix.

Ignoring the Need to Change?

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David Alston is VP, Marketing and Community, at social-media monitoring platform Radian6. David blogs at and can be found on Twitter (@davidalston).