Social Media – What’s the Real ROI?
Whilst we can all get bogged down in ‘doing the doing’ – I find it so rewarding and energising when I take the time to get out and about to talk to people.
The last couple of months have seen me doing a number of talks – all about a similar and popular topic.
February saw me talking at The Chelsea Design Club about the practicalities of making social work for design businesses. Early March I joined Robert Harding at The Photographer’s Gallery to speak to a room of photographers about ‘getting social’. And just last week I joined the team at LinkedIn in the UK HQ to talk about social and ROI – and last week I joined Richmond Event’s Digital Marketing Forum – again, focusing on ROI.
There’s no doubt about it – social media ROI is indeed a hot topic.
So, what’s the magic ROI formula? What should people be measuring and what should they expect to see?
Of course, in all realms of digital marketing we’ve got data coming out of our data. Big data truly exists – and there are dashboards a plenty that will enable us to track our customer’s every move.
As a marketer, I do love data – BUT I only ‘truly’ love and respect data that is really useful.
Measuring what matters
And so that brings me to what I consider is really key for measuring ROI when it comes to social media.
I love the saying by Zig Ziglar – ‘Those that aim for nothing hit it with remarkable accuracy’. And I find this is particularly true when it comes to measuring what matters with social.
With social channels, you get a lot of data – much of which is highly visible. Followers, retweets, shares, engagement etc – and of course we can be measuring these aspects. But to really understand social media ROI – I believe you really have to be very clear on what it is you are looking to achieve at the outset.
It’s common knowledge that it’s unusual for social channels to behave as direct marketing channels – so sales directly achieved via Facebook and Twitter are unlikely to be anywhere near as direct as from other sources. So stating that you want 50 direct sales is potentially unrealistic (however, this does depend on activities and sector).
So, it’s about being realistic about what can be achieved via social and where social makes an impact. The wonderful Gary Vaynerchuk aligns social media ROI with the brilliant question, ‘What’s the ROI of your mother?’ – however, whilst I agree with much of what Gary V states – I do believe that there are some practical ways to measure social media ROI.
To review some of the more practical aspects of social activity:
- Increase Brand Awareness
- Here you may very well be asking:
- Are we growing relevant followers? Note that relevant is a key word here.
- Establish Credibility and Trust
- Are we getting endorsements/shares from influential people?
- How is our audience responding to these influencers?
- Are those influencers extending the reach of our audience?
- Connect with your Audience
- Is your audience responding well to your content?
- Is the content you share encouraging engagement?
- What levels of shares, reach and discussion is our content achieving?
- Find New Leads/Drive Sales
- Is social activity bringing people back to your website?
- Have we achieved a certain amount of sign ups / downloads etc.
- How is social helping us to convert to sales / customers?
The above areas are by no means the only aspects you need to be considering – each campaign activity you undertake will have it’s own objectives. For example: you may set a target of partnering with 10 key influencers in your space – or connecting with influential bloggers. Once you have identified metrics that really matter – and have set off with the end in mind. Then, and only then, can you have any idea whether or not your endeavours are truly hitting the targets. (Remember, what Zig said – right!).
Having objectives at the outset can really steer your activity:
I have a very simple ‘let’s clarify objectives’ model:
- What does success look like? What objectives / outcomes are we looking to achieve?
- What metrics / evidence do we need so that we can measure progress?
- What discipline will we apply to ensure we are continuously monitoring and learning?
Of course, these aspects don’t just apply to social – and once you know what it is that you want to achieve – and what those metrics / indicators look like – you can even start to apply a monetary value to them so that you can you work out exactly what ROI looks like.
Let’s create a rudimentary example to clarify the £ point:
Let’s say landing a guest blog on a pre identified influential blog has a monetary value to you of say, £500. If you therefore set a target of 5 such guest blogs over the quarter – then if you achieve the target – the monetary value (return) is £2500. Make sense?
In the world of social media – finding return on investment is possible – particularly if you have set out with very clear objectives. Therefore, don’t just dive in an engage – before you do – remember to do your planning and set out those objectives – start with the end in mind.
That way – measuring the ROI of social is a whole lot simpler.
Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill - the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you - simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.