There is a huge fear around the ROI of social media. It is a subject surrounded with scepticism, negativity and general confusion.
I think this is because of a number of reasons.
1) There are far too many cowboys pedalling nonsense and unrealistic expectations of social media on the web
2) A number of people are stuck in the mind-set that all digital should be tracked back to a direct sale and the sales process is as simple as a linear sales funnel
3) Many businesses seem incapable of joining the dots when working out the power of social media. It impacts many disciplines, so you have to think of social in a wider context than the silo that many dump it in
Social media is where the people are, it’s where the people will stay and as a discipline it’s only going to become more prominent. It’s one of the purest forms of marketing out there. If you have a poor product, you’ll get found out in social media. If you have a poorly packaged proposition, you’re unlikely to deliver bottom line results. It’s the greatest marketing sound board ever invented. It’s where the people are and if you want to impress the people, you’d better make sure you followed the 5 steps we published previous to this post.
So how do you calculate the return on investment for social?
Well, there are many ways you can calculate a return on investment and without giving you the STEAK secret formula, here’s an idea of some of the places you should look.
I know it always feels a bit flouncy to talk about hard social metrics like followers and fans, but it’s a great place to start. Someone who cares enough about your brand to commit to following your content is important. Where many businesses go wrong is they don’t take time out to understand who is following them. This is obviously quite a granular project to undertake, but if you’ve got 100 people following your business on LinkedIn and they’re all C-Level, I think it’s safe to say you’re doing well. If you investigate and see that your followers are all unemployed graduates from Helsinki, it might be safe to say you’ve pitched your content marketing at the wrong level.
What are you doing with those who follow? Why not find out what interests them about your brand? There could be a whole bunch of inactive social ROI waiting to be unlocked.
Remember as well that you haven’t necessarily failed your mission if Tim Cook and Larry Ellison aren’t following you. If you have industry journalists and influencers following your social estates, that’s just as important. A return on investment could be a piece of PR or an invitation to partake in a study with a University. It’s amazing how many curve ball opportunities arrive by making your business socially active.
Leading the consumer to content…
Social is a mighty powerful traffic generator. By creating fresh content that is both relevant and interesting you’ll whip up a traffic storm in no time. Make sure you record your average website traffic pre-social media, so you have a benchmark to record against. That’s a big indicator of success.
Let’s get deeper though. How many traffic referrals is your blog driving to your main website? How many more natural search referrals are you getting by proxy of social? What are those search terms? Are people finding your content because your content is hitting the mark and resonating with the market? Can you use those search query key words to help guide your PPC campaign? Could you use it to create more targeted content? Could you use them to alter your main website?
These are all returns that should be tracked and assigned a value. Why? Because social is driving positive change in many different areas of your business and you need to communicate that to your CEO.
It’s all well and good generating high quality to traffic to a website, but that’s no good if you can’t convert them. This is where we once again step out of the social silo and start talking about the quality of the website. How easy is it for people to convert? Is your website giving people what they want? Is the user journey simple and un-pushy? Are you A/B testing landing pages? If you’re not, you should be… that traffic is value and you need to squeeze every last drop of value out of it.
Social is no longer a laughing stock. It’s integral to the future of your business, it affects your natural search rankings, it affects brand perceptions and it’ll shape the way you develop your user journey and website design. Make sure when you’re assessing the return of social you consider the impact other disciplines have on its success and also the success other disciplines have off the back of great social media.
Any questions on the B2B series, speak to us @STEAKLondon
By Pete Wood, UK Social Media Director, STEAK