Attend any corporate meeting on social media initiatives and it's likely that you'll hear a question or two along the lines of "how is this selling us more product" or "what's the ROI on these activities"? Unfortunately, many social media strategists get caught up in the numbers that relate specifically to social media and they forget about the numbers that are meaningful to their business.
Obviously, each business or organization will have different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that determine the success of social media activities, but many organizations can benefit from using some, or all, of what I call the K.I.S.S. method. No, it's not "keep it simple, stupid", with respect to social media, KISS stands for the following:
K is for Knowledge management - For the last 10 years, the nebulous term "knowledge management" has been used to try to identify ways to capture the knowledge stored in employees heads and turn it into meaningful information that organizations can use. The dangers of ignoring knowledge management is that employees who leave your organization take their "tribal knowledge" with them, resulting in loss of access to the information and increased training costs for the persons' replacement. The loss of this knowledge can ultimately impact your customer satisfaction if the tribal knowledge was never captured in any organizational knowledge base.
To avoid the loss of employee knowledge, you can leverage social media by creating an internal platform where your subject matter experts can share their knowledge, thus preserving it for organizational use. Wikis, idea networks, blogs, and social Intranets are a great tools that can be used to encourage employees to share what they know.
Keep in mind that you may need to provide employees with incentive to participate. Explore whether it would be beneficial to offer monthly incentives to those employees that contribute the most valuable content using internal social media tools. A $50 restaurant gift card that saves you thousands in training costs and keeps customers happy is usually a good investment.
I is for Intelligence - Think of social media as a direct pipeline into information about your products/services, your customers, and your competitors. If your customers don't like your products or services, they will share their displeasure via reviews, tweets, and posts. The same holds true for your competitors products/services. Additionally, if you listen closely, your customer and potential customers will tell you what they want from you with respect to new products/services. Take that one step further and engage with the community that makes up your customer and prospects, and you can identify new ideas that might not have been developed by your R&D department.
S stands for Sales - Social media can be a great way to connect with your existing customers and empower them to become your brand advocates. Customers are great if they continue to use your product, but they're even better when they share their experiences with others and encourage their friends and family to try your product. This isn't a new concept, it's been around forever and have been successful (remember Faberge shampoo's "and they told 2 friends and so on..." campaign?)
Social media also offers a significantly cheaper medium for advertising then traditional print, TV, and radio advertising. Look for ways to get your ads in front of highly-targeted consumers using social advertising on channels like Facebook and YouTube.
Don't forget that social media can also give your sales professionals an easy way to identify new prospects who are looking for a product or service that your provide. LinkedIn Answers and Twitter are great ways to find new potential customers.
S stands for Support - One of the most often overlooked value propositions for social media is that of customer support. Anyone who has ever worked in a call center knows that the most expensive way to provide service to a customer (other than coming onsite to their location) is to have a call center technician help them on the phone. That's why call centers track important metrics like First Contact Resolution (FCR), Time on Call (ToC), Cost per Call (CpC), and - of course - Customer Satisfaction (CSat).
By capturing your organizational knowledge (via the "K" of Knowledge Management), you can enhance your internal call center knowledge base, allowing your call center technicians to locate and provide answers more quickly, which could decrease Time on Call and increase First Call Resolution. Decrease in TOC and increase in FCR often results in an increase of CSat.
As you can see, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to start thinking of ways that engaging your employees and customers through social media can improve your operations, open up opportunities, and positively impact your customer satisfaction.
Have ways that you have implemented the KISS method or have additional ideas for positively showing a ROI for social activities in your organization? I'd love to hear about them in a comment or a Tweet.