I recently read and article on a debate between one expert who believes there is still hope for social media, and another who forecast that many big brands will be dropping social media as there is no return on investment.
I am always intrigued by how social media metrics is measured in terms of likes, shares, the number of followers you have, etc. Yes, its is important but personally I think a valuable metric is ignored which out values likes and shares.
I’ve always maintained that social media marketing should be viewed as one of the key tools you would use in your marketing strategy alongside other tools. It is a tool in the same way that television, radio, magazines and newspapers are tools you use to market your business. What is interesting is that you cannot measure traditional marketing methods accurately either, all you can get is an idea based on the number of viewers and then take a percentage of that. Normally you can expect a 1% return. Yet, everyone places social media on the chopping block demanding extraordinary results. What many fail to see is that the difference between traditional media and social media is that you can do so much more because you have access to more information in the social media space.
So now let’s look at the ROI of social media
Social media should be viewed as a tool and a part of your marketing strategy. At the end of the year, review all the tools you have been using and then determine which tools worked at increasing your bottom line.
Don’t be too quick to write off social media as a waste of time . The real value of social media cannot be measured in monetary terms but has enormous emotional and connective value and over time will increase your ROI tenfold if you know how to listen and read between the lines.
Get to know your customer and meet them on their turf
As an entrepreneur or business owner it is vital that you are hands-on in your social media. I’m not saying you need to be posting something all the time. What I am saying is that you should spend at least 10 to 15 minutes each day just reading comments and finding ways to engage. Why? Because it gives you a lot of insight into helping you understand your clients.
For example social media can help you to connect with your customers in a much better way than before. If you know that some of your customers are bikers because social media revealed this to you, you will be in a position to find common ground. You can perhaps find someone on your staff who might also be into biking – and get him or her to connect with these particular customers at a deeper level. The result? Loyalty. Who would they buy from now or in the future?
Customers voice their opinions
People love to tell others what they think of products and services because people love to share information that can be helpful to someone else. You see this when you’re looking for products on sites such as Amazon and Ebay. If someone has had good or bad service they tend to say so. This can give you so much insight into what is working and what is not – giving you an edge to make improvements on your own products or services.
Spot trends in your industry
From what people are sharing and saying you can get an idea of what people are into at the time on social media. This gives you the edge to jump in and ride the wave. A few years back I was monitoring the topic of website design and while monitoring this topic on social media it became evident that more and more people were looking for solutions where they could update their own websites without having to be dependent on web developers. Guess what I did, I immediately put together a package deal offering just that solution. Increased business was the result.
Having had a business in a time when the Internet did not exist was really very trying for me. I was restricted to my location and not only that having to pick up the phone and cold call was even more of a challenge for me.
Social media can open up doors for you and position you for access to a global audience. But you have to understand that if you want to expand your reach outside of your local area then you need to put in the time, money and resources. You can’t be hopping on and off thinking it will just magically work.
In my own personal experience I managed to work for myself and work from home using social media marketing only and no other form of marketing. I landed my own radio talk show with a local celeb in my country. Social media even landed me on local TV. Many opportunities stemmed from me being on social media. Besides the business I gain from using social media, the business relationships I have with my fellow countrymen is THE most valuable of all. Living on two continents can be very trying and having that connection where we can pass on word-of-mouth business, collaborate, brainstorm, and hold each other together, is priceless.
Most of these connections are very unlikely to have happened in my life if it weren’t for the Internet and social media.
Relationships with people, personal, sustainable and valuable long-term connections, are the way I ultimately validate the ROI of social media.