The Social ROI Question

Why should we bother engaging with social media? A common question for any organisation wondering if it is worth their time. Ten years ago you might have been asking a similar question about having a website – why do we need one?

The simplest answer in both cases is this - that’s where your customers are.

Just as Google search is replacing the Yellow Pages, social networks are now routinely used in our daily lives for communicating with colleagues, friends and family in our connected world.

But what difference does that make to your bottom line?


The Investment

We know that marketers are investing more and more in digital communications, both for business to business (b2b) and business to consumer (b2c) marketing. Some are even ploughing their entire marketing budgets into digital – after all, digital is typically far cheaper than more traditional forms of advertising (TV, radio, print).


But even the biggest brands can’t easily answer the ‘x spent = x profit’ equation for their social media activity. £500 spent on social media campaign is not the same as £500 spent on Google Adwords.

This is because social return on investment (ROI) can be hard to measure. While there are tools available for analysing the performance of social activity, and increasingly so as more meaningful measures are found, it is not a perfect science.

So how do you know if it’s working?

Measuring ROS (Return On Social)

Social media engagement is about connecting with consumers on their terms, and to get the most out of your investment, it should be viewed as part of a long term communications strategy. It is about finding out where your potential customers spend their time (be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and committing to spending time there yourself.

…marketers should accept that calculating a specific financial return is not immediately realistic and focus on measuring the overall impact a brand’s social presence has on its relationship with customers. HUGE

Social media activity is about building relationship capital. While there may have been more ‘quick wins’ in the past when social media marketing was new, social spaces are increasingly crowded, monetised and require deft handling.

First off, this means identifying goals (and Key Performance Indicators - KPIs) that will help you measure the value of a like, comment, share or retweet for your organisation.

Goals might be any one or a mixture of the following…

  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Customer loyalty
  • Advertising
  • Reputation Management
  • Research

Next it’s time to plan how to get there.


Realising ROS

This is the part organisations often need help with – assessing where to invest your time and energy, the likely rewards and timescales, and creating and managing daily activity on your chosen platforms (sharing content, posting images, interacting with fans and followers and evaluating the results).

Social media engagement is fast paced and real time.

There are plenty of articles online about best practices for social media marketing and how to stand out, but our advice (in its simplest form) is always

  • think about your audience
  • create value content
  • and set realistic timeframes for judging if your activity is helping you achieve your goals

It is fair to say that building and maintaining an online presence is something brands cannot ignore, and while ROI may not always be easy to define, real ROS is and will continue to be opportunities to connect with consumers and manage your brand in a much more meaningful way.

Playing the long game pays off in the long run.

Need Some Help?

If you’d like some advice on the potential ROS for your organisation and how to get there, feel free to get in touch.

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