Social Media strategy ROI
Everyone’s looking for the maximum out of their social media strategy ROI. That’s not a bad thing—you and I are both looking for a return on our investment. Whether it’s time, money or some other commodity, we want to know what we’re getting in return, and with social media efforts it’s not different. In terms of business, in terms of our investment of time and money, we’re quite definitely hoping that the investment will ultimately pay out dividends—the money kind. But I’d like to point out that in fact there are other kinds of ROI from social media that, in the long term, can actually mean more than just money.
The easiest example to give is Social Media Branding
Yes, social media can be a bit of a time sink. But if you take the time to know where your social media minutes are best spent, it may mean that for an investment of literally a few minutes a day you could maximize your influence, gain valuable online networking contacts, enhance your brand and much, much more.
In fact, how I like to think of social media is as a long-term brand-building strategy.
In the same way that in offline business you understand that everything your team does or says, or even is perceived to do or say, affects your brand, so everything you do online can either enhance or hurt your brand.
There is a reason why so many people say that they haven’t seen a return on their social media investment: they’re doing it wrong!
Social media branding isn’t that hard, but it can be time consuming.
Let’s start with Twitter, because for me, that’s the place where you can learn the most. Twitter is not somewhere you go to broadcast yourself. It’s where you go to form online networking relationships. Most of these are going to be mutually beneficial in some way. A few will develop into true friendships if you’re doing it right. But you need to keep in mind that if you’re not relevant, and if you don’t add value in some way, you’re not going to achieve results.
- Watch for questions, and if you can help, do so. If you can’t help maybe you know someone who can.
- Retweet deserving tweets.
- Support people by commenting on their blogposts (many members alert their Twitter network when they’ve just posted).
Automating your tweets is probably a great example of how NOT to do Twitter. And here’s a great list of other things not to do if you want to benefit from Twitter in any way.
Facebook can actually be good for building community around your brand–if it’s done right. Before you rush to build a Facebook page for your business, take some time to look around at how others have done it and make sure you’re building a good foundation for how you’d like to see it develop.
LinkedIn can be invaluable for building a reputation, especially if you are in a service industry. It’s a great place to showcase feedback about your services/skills, and if you nurture your profile correctly you can come up in a lot of searches.
The important thing with LinkedIn is to have a complete profile: they recommend that you should have at least three people recommend you in order for your profile to be complete, but the more recommendations you have the higher you’ll come in a search for your keywords. So, getting people to recommend you should be a goal.
If there’s any way you can make a relevant video about your business, or some aspect of your business that is relevant to your market, then do it and get it up on YouTube. People love learning through video and a YouTube video can be explosive in terms of bringing traffic and enhancing your online reputation. This just can be recommended highly enough. You don’t need a professional team to do it: you can just sit in front of your video cam and talk if you have something worthwhile to say. Get some friends to critique your efforts before you post though-stay interesting.
I’ve only outlined Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn and YouTube here and there are literally hundreds of social media sites. Different venues will apply to different businesses/industries. You will have to experiment for the best mix for your operation. I find that Twitter is pretty much universal as it is so easy to make contact with people who love whatever it is that you love. It’s highly interactive and quite easy to measure your reach. There are hundreds of apps for that–one that I like is Klout and you can measure a lot more than your Twitter impact with it.
Corporate Social Media
No post about using social media for business would be complete without a mention of corporate social media accounts. If you’re a small business, you might find that social media participation takes up more of your time than you’d like, but your choices are more simple and straightforward. With corporate social media accounts things can get super-complicated.
First, it’s essential to allocate the task of social media interaction to specific people. If you have an open-door policy where any employee can run a social media account associated with your brand name, you are heading for disaster. Once you’ve decided who is going to be responsible for interacting with your clients and networking with your contacts, make sure they understand your social media policy and strategy. If you don’t have one now’s the time to think about it–before you have employees out there, whose every word and action has a direct reflection on your brand.
Forbes.com has some great advice about running your corporate social media accounts too.
Tracking Social Media
You will only know if your social media efforts are paying off at all if you are measuring results, and that means using analytics software on your website–which you should be doing anyway. There are hundreds of programs out there, but the best happens to come with a very attractive price tag (free), and that’s Google Analytics. The bottom line is, of course, converting customers. And as we have already said, there are many ways that social media activities can contribute to your ROI in the form of paying customers. But they don’t all necessarily come from conversions that come from increased traffic. They might come from someone who clicks through to your website after reading a thoughtful and informative blog comment you wrote.
Or someone might decide to become a customer after watching the way you interact on Facebook or, more likely, Twitter.
However, it happens, it might not show up in your stats for your website, so that’s worth keeping in mind. Be patient, because if you’re doing it right (remember, stay engaged and be relevant), you will see cumulative results.
But social media activity does tend to bring with it backlinks, one way or another, and those will definitely contribute to your website’s improved standing with Google, and a subsequent increase in traffic.
You can monitor your own social media activity, or you can get software to do it. A good one (probably the best in the industry) which also helps to gauge the effect your social media activity has on your brand, is Trackur.
One final thought: for every concept, there is an opposite. The concept I’ve been talking about here is the result of spending time on social media for the purposes of business. I think it’s worth mentioning, to prove the point, that social media is so powerful that for those who have fallen foul of the rules in any way, social media can be death to business. Remember the News of the World? Social media, ultimately, brought it down in a matter of hours.
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