If you judge your business’ social media (SM) success solely on how many likes you can drum up, you’re only looking at a tiny piece of the puzzle. There’s a big disparity when it comes to optimizing your ROI with SM, with a number of marketers jumping full force onto the social media bandwagon, but falling short where it matters most: Actually looking at the data to seeing how successful they are.
Forbes reports that a 2012 industry report revealed that 86 percent of all marketers say SM is key for business, but are they making the most of it?
Putting the cart before the horse seems to be the norm with SM marketing, and 46 percent of businesses executives say they plan to make their SM budgets bigger in 2014. This will include buying Facebook ads or advertising on key blogs. However, Adobe says that just 12 percent or marketers say they feel “capable” when it comes to measuring SM ROI. Something is askew here and playing a guessing game with a company budget is a dangerous move. Whether your business is a thriving online clothing boutique or an international logistics company, you need to know how to measure results.
Start with the basics
Right now, marketers look at the overall customer journey to try and judge ROI. A typical journey might include a customer seeing an ad on Facebook, liking the product, going to the company website, making a purchase and becoming a loyal customer because the product and experience was positive. That’s a great story, but when it comes to SM analytics, just how accurate are the metrics available? A certain number of people checking out your Facebook page may hint at higher awareness, clicks say something about interest, and how many fans you have might indicate just how interested consumers are.
However, nothing compares to online purchases when it comes to the actual conversion factor. If you’re like most companies, you probably use a cocktail of metrics on a number of SM sites. Maybe you look closely at cost per lead, customer acquisitions, Brand Impressions Frequency or referral site traffic. This is all great data, but each one represents a sliver of the total SM activity. Trying to understand it all can be overwhelming and even misleading.
The slippery slope
If such metrics can take you down the wrong path, why are they in such high favor? Simply put, they’re easy to use, easy to access, and easy to understand because they mimic metrics which marketing pros already know. Plus, if you’re a marketer who needs to relate information to a CEO in 60 seconds, you go with what’s easiest to describe. Social media requires “flow media” because of its depth and what you really need to focus on instead of positional equity is relational equity.
Comments matter more than likes, how often your company replies matters even more, and is the social sentiment of the company brand doing well? Quantitative measures are easy (shares, fans, likes), but qualitative measures (thank you messages, good shares, etc.) are more challenging and more important. Some companies are doing this right by engaging customers, sticking with good value and offering exclusive discounts; these are the companies you should be looking to for inspiration.