While I don’t really “do” Social Media, I’m a fan of it and see great benefits to it. One thing I keep seeing is the issue of Social Media ROI, or businesses trying to determine if Social Media is “worth it”. To me, and as we’ve mentioned in the past, that doesn’t seem to be the main point here but since we’re in the Internet Marketing business, there needs to be some consideration in this area.
Something I do understand is Search Marketing which has its own set of justification requirements, some of which carry over to measuring Social. Fortunately, to a certain extent, Search is a much easier activity to demonstrate value even though questions still arise and the gap that exists with the data is still problematic. So I understand Social Media to be an even tougher challenge. In thinking about the “proof” that many ask of Social Media Marketing, even if you’re just dipping your toes into this brave new world, I can see a few key areas that you should pay attention to.
Listen – this has to be the primary reason for adopting social media for your business. We’ve spoken about this before, and since it’s not a huge time investment for us its a no-brainer. Set yourself up with a simple company name search in Twitter, get your Google Alerts going and you’re underway.
Analytics – you knew I’d bring this one up. At the very least measure traffic. While not directly able to justify your campaign, it should be one indicator of its effectiveness. I assume you’ve set up your goals and possibly your funnels; if you have you’ll be able to determine who converted and where they came from.
Engagement – definitely a tough one to track. I’ve seen folks set up a basic database system that simply outlines social mentions, comments, feedback, DM’s, whatever. Can also be easily done on an Excel spreadsheet. I imagine it’s got to be pretty painful to keep track of but the conversation is one of the great benefits of participating in a Social Media Marketing campaign.
Brand – While I don’t really want to get into this area due to its poor measurement ability, I can see the benefits of using Social Media to enhance your brand and image. I have to think that the number of social mentions can be a contributor. If you’re a small company and can regularly discuss your activities with the customer service reps to help determine if there has been a reduction in complaint calls or the like, one should probably look to your online activities as possibly being a reason for this.
So while the contents of this post are uneducated and based solely on my own experiences (hey I didn’t even consult with our Social Media expert), the main point here is to think about some form of measurement. I still don’t think that “proof” should be the overall goal here but like most marketing activities an objective or outcome must be part of the strategy.