Much has been said about the elusive nature of social media ROI. Some bloggers suggest we shouldn’t worry about measuring social media ROI; others insist that social media marketing has no value without a clear ROI. I think measuring social media ROI is certainly possible. The key is to be clear about your objectives and to use social media in a way that makes it easier to track your own outcomes. Here are some suggestions on how you can use social media better.
1. What are your specific goals for your social media ROI?
“Earning new customers” isn’t a specific goal. To do well with social media ROI you need to: identify your target audience; find out which social media platforms they’re using; and set measurable goals on what outcomes you’d like to reach.
2. Although Facebook is the biggest social media platform, remember that your target audience might prefer other platforms.
Some communities prefer forums and news groups. Don’t forget about Youtube, Pinterest, and Twitter. The size of the social media platform you target doesn’t matter. What matters is that you go to where your audience is.
For a helpful infographic on which platforms are best for which social media goals, see here.
3. What parts of your business will be taking advantage of social media?
Marketing, customer service, research, and sales all have different things to gain from social media ROI. Companies can save money by recruiting through LinkedIn instead of using a headhunter, while forums can be a great place to conduct customer service.
4.Make sure to balance your content creation with your audience outreachThe number of “followers” and “likes” you have is less important than whether your content is being consumed and shared by your current readers. Your content should answer the questions and needs of your current readers, while also attracting new followers.
5. Social media ROI can acquire new customers, but remember that most of your followers are current customers.
Social media, then, is really best for driving customer loyalty, brand recognition, and communicating with customers. If you’re lucky enough to have a fan-driven community devoted to your company and products, pay attention to their concerns and needs. Customers will think much more highly of your company if you take the time to answer their questions and address their complaints in a helpful and mature manner.
6. One way to measure social media ROI is to give your followers “assignments” with easy-to-track links and landing pages
Examples include coupons or online-exclusive offers. Jay Baer gives the great example of California Tortilla, who created a Facebook-only offer: customers who said the secret password “Fresh” when they placed an order at the register received free chips and queso. California Tortilla could then easily measure how many people took up on the offer to see what their ROI from Facebook is.
7. Determine how you're going to measure social media ROI and follow it over a long period of time.
Social media is an investment that takes time to show returns. Remember to be consistent with your campaign and closely follow correlations between your social media efforts and conversion rates, sales, and site traffic. The ROI is there: you just need to make a clear plan to secure it, and follow through consistently.