Businesses, I know you are jumping on the social media band wagon, desperate not to miss out, but do you actually stop to ask what you are missing out on? I’ve heard many of you saying ‘Yes, I’m on Twitter and Facebook but I have no idea why! I just know everyone else is doing it and I don’t want to be left out’. And of course I so often hear you ask ‘how valuable is social media to my business?’
The good news is that despite the slightly blind leap of faith onto social media platforms, you are right to leap. There is no smoke without fire and I believe no social media without value, of course only if it is managed correctly. But what kind of value does your business really get from well executed social media and can this be measured?
Sumptuous Social Signals
Hopefully, you are a regular visitor to the ThoughtShift site and will perhaps have read my blog ‘Are You Giving Out The Right Social Signals? Getting Jiggy With Social Media.’ If the answer is no, then let’s do a brief recap.
Asides from being a powerful way to increase public awareness of your brand and being able to connect with your customer base, becoming active with your brand on social media platforms is becoming a valuable practice. This is in the sense that Google is now recognising the validity of ‘social signals’. Why? Because, the more people ‘like’, ‘retweet’, ‘endorse’ or ‘+1’s’ the more they are saying that they think your brand rocks. This in turn means it is more likely search engines like Google will sit up and take notice of you.
According to Kevin Gibbons, Founder of SEOptimise-‘Google has realised how important social is as an indicator towards assessing the quality of a website..’ The jury is still out on just exactly how much importance Google will put on these in the long term. But is still a widely held belief that getting jiggy with social media is starting to play a major part in SEO and as such is of real value to business.
The Big Fat Question Of ROI
Here’s the big, fat question burning a hole on the tip of many a marketer’s tongue. How do you measure the ROI of social media? Well, my belief is that currently you can’t, at least not numerically, as you would measure profit and loss. Measuring the monetary value of ‘likes’ ‘retweets’ ‘endorsements’ and ‘+1’s’ is pretty difficult.
How do you really know that a social media platform influenced a sale? During the buying process people may view an offer on Twitter or an ad on Facebook, but that does not always mean that they click straight through to the site and convert. They have certainly become aware of the product but may want to do a little more research on prices and what other brands have to offer. However they then may decide on the initial offer/product viewed and go to convert via searching for the brand website online.
Tracking a conversion can be done to a certain extent through Google Analytics and of course referring traffic from social sites can be identified. The whole difficulty here, is that the sheer ‘essence of social‘ is by its very nature hard to measure. Put it this way, it may be easy to measure the year on year profits of a company but it’s nigh on impossible to measure the value of an incredibly inspiring conversation, with say, your best friend. That very conversation, held face to face or on social platforms, could easily lead to brand awareness of a company or a sale through a multitude of channels, but we may never be able to capture this process.
So where exactly do these observations leave us as marketers and business owners? Well, they may not answer our questions about social media value (in particular ROI) in the way we want them to but if we choose to change our perspective on the way we define ‘value’ then we may see things in a fresh and more useful light. ‘The broader view is more intelligent and it takes into account the opportunity cost’ said Ryan Connors, writing for Social Media Today. He goes on to say:
‘The opportunity cost includes the benefits of gaining social market share, SEO rankings, the digital consumer and societal shift to digital natives. People need to realize that regardless of industry, eventually all customers will be digital natives who regularly utilize the internet to make purchasing decisions. If your business isn’t a player on this new field, it will become increasingly difficult to win in the future.’
Social media value and ROI can be measured to a certain extent via certain tools like Google Analytics and ROI calculators, but this is only a slice of the ‘value pie’. Not all value can be measured in clicks and conversions. Social media influences people and their buying habits in the same way that friendships and conversations can. We can’t measure the numerical value of those so why try with social media? We know they are valuable, we know they make a difference. If like with friendships and conversations, you put in time and effort to your social media platforms and manage them well, you will reap rewards year after year.
So please, go forth and prosper with all things social. Remember, if you have any questions on how to best manage your social media platforms please do get in touch or alternatively book a place on one of our fabulous training workshops! We are always happy to help.
Do you have any views on this? Do you have a highly effective formula or method to measure the value or ROI of social media? If so, then don’t hesitate to get in touch and have your say.
Why don’t you follow my monthly social media contributions to the blog? I can guarantee a jolly good read and some juicy nuggets of information!