It’s essential that companies clarify success metrics before launching their social media marketing and advertising initiatives.
Social media success requires brands to reconsider their definitions of ROI. That does not mean, however, that the tried and true measures should be summarily tossed in the trash to make room for new benchmarks. Nor does it mean brands should attenuate their expectations because “social media is so new and changing so rapidly” or “the metrics you need are difficult to obtain.”
You can’t excel if you aim low.
I have seen a number of brands default their success assessment and — oh, horror! — design their initiatives against readily available metrics, rather than what is relevant to their overall business objectives. “We can measure Facebook Likes, so let’s do what we can to get lots of them. If we get more Likes than our competition, we have a successful social media program.”
That a parameter is available does not mean it is always relevant any more than if a parameter is difficult to measure it is not worth pursuing. We are flooded with data that is worthy of the investment in collection and analysis to help us determine whether our social media intiatives are paying off.
Here are ten measures of social media marketing ROI. There are others and, of course, these are mix-and-match based on your brand strategy.
#1 Convert customers to brand advocates — This is the Holy Grail of social media marketing and is the most difficult for brands to attain. Your social media initiatives have identified influencers; your content on appropriate platforms facilitates user-generated content; and, as a result, your advocates lead the social media conversations about your brand. Every brand should strive for this — few will achieve it.
#2 Increase “likability” — We all keep hearing backlash against just counting Likes. I mention above how Likes and followers and re-tweets and connections and other readily available metrics do not necessarily indicate engagement or intent. No, not necessarily. But that does not mean they never do. For many brands, the upward-pointing thumb counts, when earned appropriately, can be good indicators of appropriateness of content and techniques, as well as progress towards other objectives.
#3 Raise the quality and quantity of job applicants — Every smart worker is always looking for new opportunities and every smart company is always looking for great talent. In companies with a “social” culture, where every employee is a brand advocate, conversations about employment are ongoing, rather than starting the day a job gets posted.
#4 Improve SEO — Your social media initiatives are a part of, not apart from, your other marketing activities. And your website is not likely to be taken dark any time soon. While it’s not a good idea to habitually kick customers from social media platforms to your web site, your social media content and activities can be used to improve your search rankings.
#5 Reduce costs — A company with a “social” business culture has genuine, transparent internal communications with employees actively engaged in wider social activities. With all eyes and ears open, everyone is more likely to approach his or her job as a stakeholder, seeking increased efficiency and improved products in ways that hit the bottom line. And the top line.
#6 Reputation management — Just as with linear and digital media, social media can be used to showcase your community involvement, green initiatives, etc. Too many brands spend too much time “defending” themselves against negative tweets and other social media comments. Earn a positive reputation by promoting what’s positive about your brand.
#7 Provide improved customer support — Social media provides a wonderful opportunity for “push” customer service. You can be where your customers are hanging out and enlist the help of their peers with advice and solutions. Brands that listen carefully — and this is not a new concept, folks — can use social media to make changes in their communications processes to reduce support incidences and increase customer satisfaction.
#8 Raise awareness of products
#9 Generate leads
#10 Complete sales transactions
How does this list compare with yours?
Neil Glassman is principal marketing strategist at WhizBangPowWow, with a track record of success across linear, digital and social media. Join his conversation on Twitter or email Neil to talk about marketing or swap recipes.