Achieving Expressive Social Media ROI
NWA may have said it best:
[Dr. Dre:] Yo, man… There’s a lot of brothers out there flakin’ and perpetratin, But scared to kick reality.
[Ice Cube:] Man, you’ve been doing all this dope producing. You had a chance to show ’em what time it is?…
[Dr. Dre:] So, what you want me to do?
Building a strong social media presence comes with a strong level of expression, both from you the creator as well as the people that consume your messages. I think we’d all admit that there is a lot of fluff out there. Scroll through your Facebook feed right now. How many are ads vs. actual content? I just performed this quick experiment on my own account, and there are 6 photos of people’s vacations, 1 ad for real estate, 1 for people I might know, even though I don’t know a single one (and never do), 3 click bait articles, (oh my god what does the cast from Nickelodeon’s GUTS look like now??? No if’s and’s or but’s I should not have clicked on that), 2 results of online surveys my friends took, and 1 birthday reminder. (Oh crap, hold on. Alright, token birthday message posted).
The point is it’s hard to differentiate your business in a world inundated with communication. As Dr. Dre so aptly stated, and the reason I chose to highlight NWA at the beginning of this piece, there’s a lot of brothers [and sisters] out there flakin’ and perpetratin, but scared to kick reality. No one wants to put up anything too expressive, because they are scared to alienate or offend a potential customer. Social media should definitely be undertaken with caution, but sometimes it pays to take a calculated risk.
Take this campaign for example, which is absolutely, unequivocally amazing. I’m going to link to it a second time just in case you weren’t enticed by the image, you skipped over the first one or just want to watch it again.
That video has generated over 50 million views on Facebook and YouTube, with some 70% of viewers watching the entire three-minute piece, and 75% of views being from organic traffic (pun not intended). What makes this campaign so innovative, apart from the unicorn pooping ice cream, is they took a risk.
Many companies do a poor job managing their social media accounts, mainly posting things because they think they have to. We get it, it’s important to create an online presence for your business. According to Gartner, there are about 6.4 billion connected things in use worldwide in 2016, up 30% from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In fact, the article states, “5.5 million new things are connected every single day”. We know we need to somehow reach these “things”. Even this Thing has a twitter page, but it’s about finding the right content to both engage your audience and get them to take action. And, it’s about generating a return on your investment.
Many companies, especially start-ups undertake social media because it’s ‘free’. While it may be free to post, social media can be quite expensive to correctly manage.
You first need to develop a strategy that typically includes research, customer profiling, branding development, creating editorial calendars, the management of messages and comments, and an analytics package. In addition, the strategy should be reviewed and refreshed at least quarterly, if not monthly. If you are completely outsourcing a strategy from the ground up, this can cost anywhere from $9,000-$20,000 per month. If you are doing this on your own, you still need to invest a substantial amount in time and human capital. According to recent data from a Forrester survey, on average, companies spend 32% of their marketing budget on Inbound or digital marketing.
Why go through all that effort just to post expressionless fluff?
However, many do. According to USA Today, about 61% of small businesses don’t see any return on investment on their social-media activities, yet, almost 50% say they’ve increased their time spent on social media. That is an amazing statistic.
Also, seeing isn’t necessarily believing. According to AdWeek, “more than a third of the world’s CMOs affirm that digital marketing will account for 75% or more of their spending within the next five years”, however, “61% of CEOs do not have a social media presence”. C’mon, really? Even cigarette executives wouldn’t go around telling people they have never smoked. They might brazenly say it is easy to quit, but even they don’t have the balls to say they have never tried it.
So, what is should you do to achieve ROI?
Step one: Define Your Goal(s)
There are a ton of possibilities for what you should track. I could spend numerous pages walking through them, but here is a nice, digestible list from ThinkDigital.
Step two: Track Your Goal(s)
Once you have defined your goal(s), choose an appropriate tracking methodology. What are your conversion goals? Is your business based on particular website actions, i.e. sales, downloads, registrations, sign-ups etc.? There are several excellent and affordable tools out there like Google Analytics that will allow you to set up goal and event tracking. There are also numerous tools to help you track social media interactions (shares, likes, follows) like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Step three: Assign a Monetary Value
Once you’ve chosen a goal and tracked the actions, it’s time to address ROI. Figure out how much you are spending vs. actual dollars you are bringing in via your platforms. There are several online calculators, like this one, that make it easy to do some basic calculations. It’s ok to have a negative value at the beginning, but your strategy should outline metrics to success, and a path to achieving positive ROI.
But, most importantly, you need to create great, relevant, and dynamic content that will help you achieve the ROI that 61% of small businesses aren’t currently receiving. Don’t waste an exorbitant amount of time and money developing and producing content that isn’t unique, or relevant. Why waste your time agonizing over a strategy, designing branding, setting up profiles, writing articles, responding to comments etc. if you are just going to post things because you think you have to or because that is what other companies are doing.
We know you want to be doing some dope producing. Don’t be afraid to kick reality. Now show ‘em what time it is.
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 He called the shit poop – Billy Madison