Where Is the ROI?



I’ve worked with a wide variety of companies on social media. Whether it’s consulting, actually doing the social media strategy and content step-by-step or just working on content, there are a few questions that I hear every single time.

Where’s the ROI? What’s the point? Do people actually read this? I know I’m (insert 40, 50 or 60 years old), but I can’t imagine that people actually look at these things. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter how good the social media is or what exactly I’m posting, but they want to know exactly what the ROI is. What’s the bottom line?

This makes sense, considering that Chief Marketing Officers spend plenty of time on the insights and analytics of which marketing efforts are the most useful. As Forbes contributor Dorie Clark discussed, social media marketing has been around for a decade, and CMOs still can’t figure out if it’s doing their companies any good. The CMO Survey took the opinions of 410 CMOs, and almost half (49 percent) even said that they aren’t able to quantify whether social media has made a difference for their companies, while 36 percent said they had a good sense of qualitative, though not quantitative, results. And the most interesting finding: 66 percent of respondents say their boards and CEOs are tightening pressure to measure ROI!

So what are the big name players doing to solve this program? Well for one, Clark says that marketing budgets are beginning to include a larger investment in analytics as well as in looking at intermediate metrics like increases of fans and followers. Forbes contributor Christine Moorman agrees: “Social media has effects on customer behavior,” she says. “It may not be directly purchasing, but in the short term, people start talking, following, listening, and paying attention. But ultimately you have to be able to show there’s a long-term payoff.”

Taking care to measure analytics is no different than, say, running a print ad in a magazine. Marketers who are dissatisfied with the ROI on print ads often don’t have an accurate way of measuring that success, as elusive as it can be with print advertising. With digital, those behemoth companies like Facebook and Twitter practically make it impossible NOT to look at analytics, and there’s no excuse for not having a way to gauge success. Clear goals of where you want your social media to be, who you want it to be reaching and how that’s going to happen need to be in place before social media efforts even begin.

At SMC, companies from Silicon Valley to New York City, agencies, small businesses and more are utilizing our services. We have proven results for small businesses from manufacturing to precision ag and everything in between! For all of these companies, we find that it works best to provide monthly metrics. These metrics will help you see who you’re getting in front of and what audience response is. There should never be a question about who your social media is reaching and how.

And like the CMOs say, social media is actually a very important way to make your marketing strategy long-term. Will daily purchases increase right away? Maybe, or maybe not, but your relevance, presence and customer attraction will increase more significantly the longer you’re on social media, and an occasionally opaque short-term ROI is a possibility, too. Look at your goals, look at your social media and find a happy medium in your strategic planning.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Sean MacEntee

About the author: Maggie Happe

Maggie Happe is a recent graduate of Creighton University and a contributor to Social Media Contractors.

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