Personally I am passionate about marketing and, similarly, I think great marketing is about passion. Every time people talk about measuring to gauge ROI on every little thing, a little voice inside my head says "what about love?" What's the return on love?
Marketing done right IS about love. Loving customers and treating them with respect, adding value to their lives and instilling passion in their souls. If that happens, they will love you back. How do you measure this? It depends on what your definition is.
In the age of consumer generated content, love is easily expressed (so is the opposite). I've been asked many times, "Why would ANYBODY actually create something about a company?". The reason is love. Why do people create fake product ads? Why do people parody ads? They're driven by an internal passion to make the brand part of their lives and express how it impacts them.
One company who gets half of this equation is Apple. They're on the receiving end of a lot of love, but rarely give it. This is the biggest gripe I have with Apple in particular. They have all of these fans that love them, create ads, stand in line for hours to buy their products and yet the company doesn't engage with them online. A topic for another day.
I was reminded about this when I was online looking for a microphone attachment for my iPod. I went to Amazon and read the reviews, but it didn't give me enough information about what I need it for. So, I went to Google. In one search and one click I found a review by a person using the exact model I want and he loves it. He tells of situations like the ones I need it for where it worked great.
The company here is not engaged in the conversation, there are no testimonials on their site showing the product in use, I had to find it on my own. Had I found somebody with a bad experience I could have swayed the other direction.
Social media allows many forms of love to be expressed. Blog entries, word-of-mouth, buzz monitoring, email forwards, message board threads, photo sharing, video sharing, etc. Each opinion and statement of love has the potential to reach new consumers and influence others. Most of these can be measured.
So how do you measure ROL? Is it page views, pass-alongs, impressions, number of parodies, etc., or is it immeasurable? Marketers usually think you can measure everything, but can you? Let me know what you think.