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Obtaining a Return on Investment (ROI) with social media has been something that companies have been struggling with since Facebook launched it’s Business Pages platform. We see and hear of success stories where fringe clothing lines or lifestyle brands and businesses launch organically on social, go viral and generate tons of revenue. Too often we have marketing managers, coordinators, and business owners asking the question “When am I going to see a profit from investing in social media?”
The reality is, businesses are seeing a positive ROI by investing in social media. The key is ensuring that you execute a social media program for your business that meets specific objectives and starts with a social media strategy.  Usually, this parallels writing and executing a digital strategy.

Let’s unpack how you can actually obtain a return on investment from social media efforts.

  1. Customer Service
    Believe it or not, customer service has more of an impact on a business’s bottom line than ever before. Customers are savvy, they research products/services and referrals are probably at a peak in terms of sources of sales across all sectors. Publically responding to customer inquiries and jumping into social conversations at the right time can provide positive results.
  2. Recruitment
    It can be extremely difficult to hire. Whether you are looking for front-line retail staff, or database architects it’s not easy to find the right person, and the reality of the “Wrong hire” can set a company back quite a bit financially. Social Media can be used not only to communicate company benefits & lifestyle but also as a primary recruiting source. Telling your company’s story can not only create awareness for your services, but also catch the attention of people you want to hire.
  3. Online Sales & Leads
    We can’t talk about ROI relating to Social Media without talking about Social Commerce. If you have a website for lead acquisition or that sells actual services/products, you can measure the traffic sources and have a good idea of how those leads or sales are being generated.  A few lines of code added to your website can start reporting on this immediately.

Paid vs organic

Organic social media strategy means that you are posting and not applying any spend. Ie, you are posting on social media just as any other human would hoping to get a lot of eyes on your content. There is value to organic posting, though over time platforms like Facebook have moved to models that ensure brands are spending money to reach enough of a target market to actually see results. An organic strategy via a content calendar should be executed with any digital strategy or social media strategy, but you should start looking at paid social media as an advertising channel, and not just as a way to get free eyes on your products or services. Most people don’t want to see a ton of “advertisey” posts on social media these days anyway unless the creative or message is so compelling it makes them pause.
Split tests are being done every day where large companies are going “dark” with traditional mediums and switching advertising spend to social to see if they see a lift or dip in business. Depending on the nature of where people seek out your business, social media as an advertising channel can often work.

The Data is incredible

Building an audience on social media, connecting that audience to measured conversions (sales) suddenly gives you an incredible amount of data that 25 years ago you would have to obtain by asking customers to fill out a survey. Imagine knowing information like which sport most of your customers watch, what kind of car they drive, or whether or not they are parents could do to your marketing strategy.  It could enhance your messaging and your understanding of your customer base drastically. While some complain that Social Media obtains too much info about us, if you are utilizing it for business purposes you should be ecstatic that you have the information you do!
It is completely possible to obtain a positive ROI from social media efforts. You need to segnment your objectives and strategically utilize the platforms to put your messaging and compelling story in front of the right people.

5 Tips on achieving a positive roi on social media for your business:

  1. Ensure you have the appropriate data points setup. (Analytics, Conversion measuring, etc..)
  2. Segment your objectives (ie, Recruitment vs Sales vs Customer Service)
  3. Utilize & Monitor the data (once you have access to the data, use it!).
  4. Create a social media strategy that includes both organic and paid tactics.
  5. Be consistent, trust the process and remember that social media is not a place to get “free impressions”. That is just a perk when content is executed properly, it should be accepted as a paid advertising channel; be it a much more affordable one.