One of my passions is Social Media ROI. I read everything I can about how to measure the return on investment for social media marketing, and have an important message about getting the right type of traffic to your website.
I recently read a report on a public relations symposium about Making the Case for Real ROI in Social Marketing, hosted by some very distinguished people.
The panel, hosted by the 2011 Travel & Tourism Conference, driven by audience comments, turned almost immediately to Social Media ROI and determining best practices in showing business value from a social media program.
So I went and researched these people and got to know them and their ideas a bit better.
I was very partial to the decisive comment by Dave Evans: To get at ROI, you've got to measure one of two things: increased revenue or reduced expenses given a specific dollar investment.
Presence On Social Media? Or a Strategy For Social Media.
Having a presence on Facebook is a lot different than actually getting some results out of it into your business.
Having engagement on your Facebook page is a lot different than getting sales in the cash register.
There certainly is a clear plan to measure return on investment for your social media campaigns. This plan connects all the points of contact between your business and your customer, it identifies a step-by-step relationship process, and it can give you numbers on how many people convert from one process to the next as you deepen the engagement and the relationship with your prospective customer.
Everyone knows the basic measurements of:
number of fans on Facebook and
number of visits to your website
...but you need to really know your customer very well in order to identify all of the stages and points of contact between your business and the customer - through the decision-making process as they get ready to buy your product.
When you are clear about how you gain new customers through real world interactions you can take those real world social, real world human interpersonal, real world transactional relationships - and you can identify why people want your product and offer some of those benefits on your Facebook page.
Know Your Customer Well
When you know you customer well and you know the buying sequence of
You can go through that whole process and find out which points of contact match up with the strengths of each social media tool.
Some social media platforms are best for developing a new relationship and some other services are better for moving the relationship into a buying phase, while others are best for building customer loyalty after the purchase.
Everything I read about ROI seems to miss a key piece of information:
An actual plan with specifics.
Below, I offer what I’ve learned while struggling to answer these very Social Media ROI questions from my tourism clients over the past ten years.
As a preface, I speak in context of researching and working with tourism businesses over the last decade, and more recently with other entertainment businesses whose clientele comes back on a cyclic basis. The repeat customers are very important and the business wants to maintain a relationship with their potential client to encourage them to return to their establishment on a regular basis.
From a marketing standpoint or a business sales standpoint there is a four step cycle in the relationship. In these steps, the customer is:
And in this engagement cycle there is the pre-trip planning where your Twitter account is very important for building trust during the decision-making process time, gathering attention and providing a mobile friendly sign-up form that grants access to something interesting.
A quick actionable landing page that I can use on my cell phone this is the pre-trip planning phase using Twitter and Facebook to get to the word out.
Business Review Websites are very important in Pre-Trip Planing phase of the customers search. In order to maximize your Social Media ROI, make plans to be proactive with your listings on Trip Advisor, Google Places, travel.yahoo.com and other Business Review Websites for your industry.
During The Event
Once the event is under way and the customer is visiting your venue or they are taking a trip with you, the event itself causes a whole bunch of extra content and engagement possibilities.
Customers can publish social updates with Four Square and Yelp, check in with Facebook Places and Google Places.
The event is an opportunity for your business itself to take photographs of the event in action and these photographs and videos can become extremely valuable content - there for you to collect during the event, trip, or experience that your customer is having with your product or service.
Post Event Social Media Marketing
Turning Social Media Activity Into A Long Term Business Asset
After the event, all the social media activity that occurred is now valuable real estate for your business! All that is required is that you go round and collect it up, and pick it up, take copies of links to it, gather links to the new content this social media activity has created, and recapture it by making a blog post about it. Use the social media activity as the content for the blog post!
Capture Social Media Activity
Use those pictures to create a photo gallery. Use the photo gallery of images to create a video and put the video on YouTube with nice introductions and different calls to action right with in the video itself.
Use the video and the photo gallery of pictures to populate a blog post that tell stories about what happened during that time and highlights the good social media real estate comments and testimonials that actually happened.
Publicize Your Timely Blog Post
Get the word out about the new blog post! The new blog post that features your video, links to the photo gallery, links to the Facebook page and it tells the story of what happened. Publicize this blog post on all of your social media - like Facebook and Twitter, your YouTube friends and subscribers, your e-mail list - and any other audiences send an update and get the word out about the new blog post.
Post Event Follow-up
Leverage your Social Media ROI. The tale-end of the cycle is to follow up with your guests and provide them a place to go and leave their testimonial about the event.
A testimonials are very valuable - even if they are challenging testimonials, they can be very valuable. Even of those testimonials that are negative even can turn into a very trust building experience for the next person who comes along if the negative review is handled correctly.
ROI On 'The Content Cycle'
When considering a way to measure the Social Media ROI of this whole process we must consider that each campaign is custom fitted to your specific business.
If you are an entertainment club like a cabaret, and you have people coming back or going to the other club every week, then your measurements of return on investments, your Social Media ROI, and the strategies you use with your design, your conversion plans and your engagement plans - are organized differently than the strategies used by a fishing trip venue who provides week long fishing trip once each year, providing different focus of measuring the success of your Social Media ROI.
In order to really measure your return on investment, you've got to have your entire customer relationship sequence identified to determine which social media tool is best adapted to aid in each step in the sequence.
Every contact point also has to have a split test form so you can see which of the two forms are converting better at that point in the relationship development
It's not enough just have Google analytics,YouTube insights, and Facebook insights - you have to split tester landing pages with at least two different variables you have to quantify every different contact point at your customer makes your business.
Within your marketing plan, throughout the Content Cycle, as you consider the longer-term strategy of publishing all your content in a search-engine-friendly way, so the content is unique and interesting, gets social activity - so that is going to have lasting standings in the search engines and continue to bring you in an audience that is targeted to your business over a long period of time
With a written strategy broken down into content-cycle costs, expanded into an annual plan and even a five-year plan for content development, you are in a position to measure your Social Media ROI over time.
Often, an integrated and full-scale marketing program takes months to implement and unveil, and can be a very costly upfront investment
The return on investment has to be measured in terms of 5 to 7 years.
I can understand, and personally identify with - the business owners desire to have results of the big ones like Facebook.
Everybody wants to be an overnight Internet success because those case studies get so much more attention.
It’s natural to want return on investment *immediately* and it's easy to lose sight of the big overall picture of how the content generation cycle slowly builds real estate that is of lasting value on your website.
And in terms of being a conduit for customer service management, social media needs to be streamlined with the contact area of your website in order to reduce the amount of staff-time that needed.
Organized correctly, social media will encourage your guests to do some of your marketing work for you and, at the same time, creating an endless resource of stories, that you can use to for long-term content investments on your website.
I believe return on investment is a very clear and very quantifiable measurement in a well planned social media strategy. However, as you see, there are a lot of different variables to check, questions to answer and strategies to prepare in order to get all of your ducks in order, and so the technology works in sequence to provides the results that you need.
Building great content and attract customers with fantastic testimonials and really valuable content - with stories of your guests. Put this together with landing pages that have split testing and tracking so that you can adjust, change, modify and improve any individual part of the system.
Only then can you have the long-term big-picture perspective to understand where social media works in, and how you can use it to leverage any part of the customer relations sequence in your current business.
With this integrated customer-buying-cycle perspective of using Social Media, you can identify each step in the customer relationship, which social media tool helps best with each step, and use split testing in each point in the purchasing process to begin measuring ROI in a meaningful way.