Over the past few months, we've had some client turnover due to a real or perceived lack of Return on Investment (ROI) from social media. For many businesses, ROI continues to be the "white whale" of social media and the failure to achieve it can be frustrating; kind of like attending several networking events without generating solid leads.
But on the flipside, we have clients that actualize social media ROI. In fact, some of them have received three and four times the return of what they pay us to help them execute their social media plan. So what do they do differently?
Establish a strong foundation. Before we begin social media management, we strongly recommend creating a strategy tailored to specific business needs, target customers, and goals. This is critical for success. By aligning social media efforts with business goals and objectives, we can help successfully incorporate social media into an overall marketing plan.
Embrace a social media mindset. The best way for me to describe how social media ROI is different from traditional media ROI is this: a business must treat social media like networking NOT like media. Social media - like face-to-face networking - has a lot of small components that help to shape an overall marketing presence. Because of this, it's hard to see 1 +1 = 2 direct result. Consistent, effective tactics, done over time, add up and equate to a result.
Set realistic goals. Make no mistake - increasing sales is fundamental to business success. Sales growth is also one of the many benefits to having a successful social media strategy. But in order to achieve that goal, we need to take a deeper dive to identify specific targets that will lead to this end result...such as increasing website traffic, establishing credibility, increasing visibility, and enhancing the customer experience. Do you see how setting these types of goals could lead to higher sales? Think of social media as a tool that builds your reputation, generates awareness, and brings more visibility to your business.
Synergize efforts. Bridging the gap with social and operations as well as outside marketing can really help move the needle. Social media alone, especially for small businesses, rarely converts to a sale - it works on filling the upper part of the sales funnel. The more a business can synergize, the better chance of reaching people at all stages of the buying process.
Humanize brand. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times. To help move the needle in this social world - especially for small businesses - it's humanizing the business brand. Social media is about people - we connect with other people on a basic level. More so than a logo or brand image. We crave human interaction, which is why social media is so popular. Incorporate you and your team, and what's going on in the business, whenever you can.
Understand the role of social media in the marketing pie. Even a business that meets its marketing goals cannot be guaranteed that sales will follow. And, that does not mean it's a marketing problem. If there's a lack of conversion, there are myriad of factors that could be involved - and I urge a business to go back and evaluate the foundational elements, namely operations or website functionality. And while it can be unnerving, it's critical to evaluate the market need for a service or product, how it compares to the competition and the ease by which customers can move through the sales process.
Avoid complacency. Once both marketing and sales goals are achieved, a business will still need to evaluate frequently. Changes happen daily - in the economy, in relationships and in social media. A social media plan requires constant reinvention in order to remain relevant and engaging.
Throughout the past four years of owning a social media business, I've encountered many learning lessons. The past few weeks have been no exception. My biggest takeaway: making sure my future prospects understand what it is that makes social media ROI a reality.
(ROI / shutterstock)