Measuring ROI of online and social media activities has been a confusing (even futile) exercise for many organizations. It’s hard to recognize revenue for a social interaction when there’s no specific action or transaction for which there are verifiable costs and revenues.

While social media may be “cheap”, it’s far from free. It takes time to learn how to use the tools and then apply them in a social context for relationship building, marketing, communication, customer service, support, lead generation and more. Add to that the expansion of digital tools for public affairs, advocacy, diplomacy and lobbying.

Traditional models of measurement aren’t easily adapted and organizations have become frustrated trying.

And, if you thought measuring ROI on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram was challenging, try Snapchat.

Snapchat is the disruptive messaging service that allows text, images and videos to be viewed for only 10 seconds. While there are some workarounds and  “extended” viewing features, it’s best to consider Snapchat messages as being impermanent — a mind-bending concept for the Internet with its legendary memory.

Snapchat is gaining popularity, particularly among young people, precisely because it is both immediate and impermanent.

Recognizing its popularity, companies are starting to use Snapchat to reach their customerspotential customers and for recruiting. Organizations are incorporating it into their advocacy efforts. Politicians are figuring out how to engage their supporters using Snapchat and public affairs teams are experimenting with it as an tool to involve their stakeholders in lobby efforts.

Social technologies are generally designed to be social first.

Running too many social media accounts can bog you down. Overlooking a powerful platform can also be detrimental. However, dismissing a tool because you can’t measure what you can’t see (e.g. the impact of a message that disappears after 10 seconds) only means you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Sometimes being effective means trusting your instincts and knowing that the economics of meaningful social engagement will take care of itself.

Just, be human in your dealings.