7 Steps to Generating Effective ROI from #SocialMedia
Businesses are dedicating an ever-increasing budget towards social media marketing, but most of them fail to deliver a quantifiable return on their investment to budget managers. Thankfully, there are steps marketers can take to ensure their efforts are generating a defensible and effective ROI.
- 1. Know your why and set a goal
Explain upfront what you are trying to accomplish and why you’re doing it. It’s important to outline clear deliverables such as increasing number of Facebook likes or securing a specific number of email sign ups from a certain initiative, and communicate why it’s important. Email sign ups and Facebook likes are a great way to retarget an audience with new content and a great way to engage with brand advocates. Meaning, now we have a newly acquired database and fan base to market our next big campaign, thus saving money on another paid outlet or purchasing lists of potential customers to spam. “We created x% of owned media with qualified and active participants of our brand with these social campaigns, and here was the cost.” Compare to other ways of doing, evaluate if this was more effective or required less time or cost and voilà…. ROI.
Without this first step, how can you communicate that the innovative is important enough to spend money on?
- 2. Identify and target the right audience
It’s critical to know who your key customers will be before you start any kind of marketing campaign. If the target customer is not yet determined, then you run the risk of a scattered approach that may dilute your message and drastically increase your costs. Some sample questions to ask yourself to help: who in your current customer base is the right fit for your product or service? Who buys the most and why do they buy? What have they purchased from you before? Do their purchasing patterns suggest they might be a good target? From what media outlets do they get their information?
- 3. Develop specific content for the audience and determine the correct outlet or channel
Now that you know who you want to reach, you’ll need to identify the best ways to reach them with your message. The answer is not typically a one-size-fits all. Will video communication work better than written content to better showcase your product? Will you choose Youtube it or Vimeo? Should you write a 600 word blog post or are 140 character tweets more logical? Do status updates on Facebook make more sense? Are your customers contributors, engagers or consumers? What tumblr accounts or websites do they read? Determine the best avenue and media format to communicate your content to an engaging audience.
- 4. Allow the product to market itself
Lots of businesses lack this step. Providing a product experience allows consumers to determine if your product really fits their needs. One simple way to do this is to offer customers the opportunity to experience the product for free. Freebie does a good job of this --- it allows businesses to share their offering at no cost to customers in exchange for a post on social media. The freemium strategy of the 21st century has created billions of users, spawned tremendous new business opportunities and now is generating multibillions in revenues, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix.
- 5. Generate brand advocacy
Creating and amplifying advocates should be front and center on every marketer's agenda. The blueprint for how to turn advocates and owned media into a powerful marketing force is the key. Get your brand on customers’ pages in social media channels and have them share information with their networks about the product or service. What does this accomplish? For one, word of mouth marketing, which we all know is the most reliable and effective kind of marketing out there. We are 92% more inclined to take a recommendation from a friend or family member than any other traditional media outlet according to Neilson. In an era of connected consumerism, advocacy puts the word in word of mouth. Nothing is more effective.
- 6. Engage with people on social networks
Plenty of businesses lack this step too. If your product or service is mentioned on a customer’s social media page, engage with that person. Start a conversation directly with consumers – it will make a huge impact on their perception of your product or brand. For example, everyone’s private driver Uber does an excellent job engaging with users on social. They retweet, favorite, comment, reply, and empathize with their users over social channels and everyone views it. This might be because they use a community management approach in local markets, but users, followers, and fans feel connected to the brand because they acknowledged you exist and are worth their time to engage with you. Engaging with customers on social is one of the fastest and most effective ways to create brand advocates.
- 7. Track and analyze your success
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” The old John Wannamaker saying just doesn’t fly in today’s digital environment. Defining and determining a technology solution to track important metrics must be done proactively. You need to know what data you need to show, how to go get it, and then show it simply. For example, in the beginning use a #hashtag and manually find all the people engaging in your content, reach them and keep track in excel. Working with companies like Network Insights or Sprout Social can help you proactively gauge the impact of your strategy, so that in the end you have a tangible ROI that is defensible in front of any CMO or CEO.
Social media just isn’t starving college kids anymore, it is now a daily resource for people with incomes to share and engage with each other. Even our parents are on Facebook! Social media marketing is the biggest opportunity to marketers since the web. Now its time to develop a clear strategy and create advocates, leads, and sales.
I hope that these seven steps help to provide a tangible and defensible ROI in your next social campaign.
Article contribution by Hank Ostholthoff, Co-Founder of Freebie