Not all marketing techniques are made equal, nor are all forms of measuring those marketing results. Social media often gets a bad rap for not being able to demonstrate true ROI in the way e-commerce or email marketing attempts can. However, this is an issue with the framework of ROI, rather than an issue with social media as a valid marketing tool. I firmly believe that you should measure social media in terms of return on your marketing objective or a return on engagement instead of the more traditional ROI.
The four main Marketing Objectives I typically use when defining social media engagement are branding, customer service, lead generation, and sales. There is a lesser goal that often plays a role – keeping up with competitors – but I find that that is a secondary reason more often than not. When you want to evaluate your social media return, first identify what your objective is and then begin working on defining what success would be.
- Branding: This is social media’s principle strength. It allows you to craft your company’s identity through images, text, links, articles, stories, and interaction. Whether your brand is serious, irreverent, youthful, informative, sporty, or something in between, you can brand yourself very effectively and create the image of your company with which people can interact. Think of it as brand anthropomorphism Growth in the number of likes, comments, and interaction on your pages are good metrics to look at when you want to focus on branding. @Mentions and shares are also crucial.
- Customer Service: People love to share their stories of extremely fantastic and extremely dreadful customer service. This is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you miss all the people who are in the middle – the overwhelming majority who are satisfied or happy, but not quite happy enough to leave a utopian review online. However, it presents a tremendous opportunity in the field of reputation management to take those negative reviews and turn them around. When a customer posts a negative review on your Facebook page, you can use that as an opportunity to change that negative experience to a positive one and nipping it in the bud. If you are looking to social media from a customer service perspective, focus on @mentions and posts on your page. Emphasize and highlight the positive and respond to the negative.
- Lead Generation: At it’s core, social media is SOCIAL (duh). This relates directly to word-of-mouth in the digital space. If it’s lead generation you want, focus on growing your likes and shares. The best way to do this is to simply make share-able content. Unique, interesting and special information is crucial in growing your likes. You can add apps to your Facebook pages to add content materials like white papers, e-books, articles, and more and only allow fans to view them as a way to grow your fan base.
- Sales: There are ways to integrate e-commerce into your Facebook page. Another, lower tech tactic is to simply post pictures of your products. A boutique that I frequent, often puts images of sale items of new items on their Facebook and instagram pages, generating interest and oftentimes, fans and customers requesting items be set aside or held for them. This is a direct form of return on marketing objective, one that correlates directly with ROI. This usually only works in direct B2C industries and demands a well-optimized social media page, but the result is well worth the time investment put in to optimize the site.