Do you feel like ROI in Social Media is harder to prove than it is to crack the da Vinci codes?
You are not alone my friend. In fact, according to a 2015 TrustRadius report, 60% of the marketers surveyed claimed that measuring the ROI of social media was their biggest challenge.
I have worked with many marketers, communication coordinators, business developers and social media professionals who have asked me what the ROI in social is. Truth be told, there is no one blanket answer to that question. It really varies from business to business and one of the elements I love about social media marketing is that the analytics a brand can derive from social media data can assist in many areas of business.
There are common performance indicators that marketers will rely on to answer the ROI questions such as measuring likes, followers, impressions and reach but are these metrics really enough or is your boss still left wanting more?
In that same TrustRadius report, marketers list out their most important metrics for evaluating the success of their social media programs. While these seem like obvious KPIs to measure, marketers are still challenged with linking these metrics to business outcomes.
Marketing guru Heidi Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies talks about how brands “…aim to increase awareness but can’t associate social media awareness with lead generation and sales”.
The ability to link efforts with outcomes will remain a challenge without the right frame of mind. There are a lot of articles written to educate marketers on how to measure the ROI in Social Media but I find some of those articles, while helpful are still, pretty vague and high-level without really outlining a formula to find numerical or emotional impacts. And that attributes to the fact that there is no one formula (for every business) to find the ROI in Social Media. So instead of writing another high-level and ambiguous article I want to encourage you to change your thinking of how you are going to determine what your ROI in Social Media is.
To start, let’s go back to the point before you began to develop your social media strategy and ask yourself these four questions:
Questions #1 Why is your brand on social?
This may seem like an easy question for companies to answer seeing as how it is 2016 but, I still get responses where they genuinely don’t know what they are going to do on social but they know they need to be on it. Answering this question is the foundation of your strategy and motivating factor of every action you take on social.
Are you going on social to stay competitive? Are you trying to reach a specific market segment? Are you on social to prevent or manage future crisis? Are you trying to enhance your customer service capabilities? Are you trying to build brand awareness? Are you looking for leads?
After you answer this simple yet critical question you can move forward by developing a strategy that targets your identified motivator for being on social and identify the specific KPIs that will monitor the impact and progress of your efforts.
Questions #2 What will happen if you do nothing on social?
I know what you are thinking. “What a random question to ask Krystal”
That it is, but it’s an insightful question to ask yourself and it helps you to identify potential risks and consequences. You may find that this questioning cross overs with the first question Why Is Your Brand On Social but in case you didn’t think about risk, here is your chance to do so.
What are the consequences of your brand doing nothing or, if your brand already has a social presence established, what are the consequences if you do nothing different tomorrow than you are doing today? Will you lose engagement with your community? Will competitors gain more market share? Will you miss out in responding to customer questions? Will your brand reputation be hurt? Will you miss opportunities for sales?
The answers to this question will not only influence your strategy but if you are lacking in support from the higher ups you can use the responses to this question to back up your action plan and budget requests. Management is more willing to write a check if their is proof that they can lose a lot more if they don’t heed your word.
Questions #3 What tools will you need to get the job done (and make your life easier)?
If you are a small business there are many tools that you can use to measure and manage the volume of your social media efforts. But if you are a larger enterprise, you may find that tracking and managing your efforts and outcomes are more complex and require the assistance of more advance social management tools. Tools that not just monitor conversations online but actively listen to the most relevant conversations to your brand, eliminate spam and irrelevant messages (noise) and provide actionable insights into the conversation and who’s behind those conversations. You also want to to consider a tool that can handle you social engagement and marketing efforts as well. There are many point solutions available to concur individual actions and then there are comprehensive tools that are a one-stop shop for your social needs. It is a best practice to make sure you have the right tool to accomplish the task at hand or you will be either missing important messages and insights or waste a lot of time on tedious tasks. Tip: Your due diligence on a tool will be easier after answering these four questions and developing your strategy.
Questions #4 Are you thinking of the bigger picture?
Once you understand your objectives and what insights you need to measure them you will be looking for a tool and when considering a tool you need to also think ahead about what you will be able to do with all of your new insights and technology. I mentioned earlier that I love social data because a brand can leverage the insights from social media to enhance other areas of business. Since social really touches every aspect of business, it is in your best interests as a marketer to offer your social insights to support other department. A few examples of where social data can be used include: content generation, identifying influencers, customer services, sales, social selling, human resources, public relations, and product development. A great example of using social insights to influence product development and increase sales, brand loyalty and awareness is Polaris using Oracle Social Cloud. Polaris shared their story last year at the 2015 SXSW conference. Holly Spaeth, Manager of Interactive Media and Content at Polaris Industries shared with the attendees her strategy and how they achieved it with Oracle Social Cloud.
“Social is a central part to customer centricity, as it’s an arena where we can listen, learn and engage directly with our passionate fan base to make customer- and data-driven business decisions” Ms. Spaeth explained. “Social insights were helping make decisions on a new charity partner, as well as a consumer-focused and engaging campaign…We recap our social and digital insights weekly across departments and, together with other customer data, use it as a guide to make better business decisions for marketing to services to sales to product development. And Product Development is always interested in what our social fans are saying to help with everything from product naming, design, color, accessories and more.”
I love ending my posts with success stories and I want you to have a similar success story to share. The key takeaways here are to realize you are not alone in the struggle to reach ROI in Social Media. Before you start a strategy to reach ROI you need to ask yourself these four simple yet critical questions and once you answer them you can be confident in your strategy, know which unique metrics you need to prove your brands ROI in Social Media and know which tools you need to achieve your goals.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please feel encouraged to share your insights, experience and best practices on the topic of Social Media ROI.