The social marketing domain is relentless in its hunt for ROI and it all stems from the fact we’re just not advanced enough to know about it. So I’m here to deliver the “truth” about social ROI to add perspective to your strategy.
From scheduling social media posts to operating multiple social channels, each with their own audience and behaviours, social media’s primary role is to drive brand awareness and cultivate a community. The goal is to increase the number of people who know about your brand and keep you at the top of their mind.
This is why the entire social marketing industry has struggled to grasp the difference between engagement and social ROI.
The truth is… it doesn’t exist! To clarify, the whole concept that social ROI is a set of defined parameters that everyone is striving to find it not true, I can tell you with authority that social ROI is different for each and every business and is completely based on your objectives for social and it will be down to your strategy to define what your social ROI is.
Although engagement is at the core of everything social media and this should be at the heart of any social media campaign, it is important to understand that social should be used as an assistance channel to generate conversions rather than been viewed as a direct source. Where social really shines is generating a community of potential and existing customers to talk about your brand and increase your exposure, and how does that happen… engagement!
Now we know the truth, how important is social to my business? The answer… VERY! It is common for a user who converts on a website to make several visits before making the final goal conversion. In the past, this route has typically been through a mixture of direct, organic and PPC. But more recently, social media has been popping up in the conversion path. Usually, the social network will appear after a direct or organic search which suggests that the user found the website but then went to social media to verify their credibility of your brand and returned to the website through this channel.
What is interesting about this is that social media has typically been thought of as part of the initial stage, generating interest and actually engaging people with your brand. However, we’re now seeing that social media is playing a role towards the end of the conversion path as well. This now indicates that social users habits are changing and that they are more comfortable with businesses selling to them on social platforms, so its never been more important to use social media correctly.
For a long time now people have researched the how social media influences consumer behaviour, but with social media constantly changing at an ever increasing pace it can be difficult to find research that is still relevant. What remains the same is that millennials (aged 23-36), are more likely to be influenced by social media with their spending habits than older generations. But the fact remains social media does influence consumers to convert.
We now understand that social media plays a crucial role in the consumer’s path and ultimately your overall brand, so when it comes to social ROI, the key is to have an active and engaged social community for potential consumers to engage with. But it is absolutely essential that you analyse your target market and choose your social platforms wisely as you could put a lot of time, effort and resources into channels that won’t yield any results.
Whilst we’re on the topic of engaging consumers, it is not enough to post once every couple of weeks and expect to gain followers and skyrocket your website conversions. Instead, you need to really engage your social media audience and connect with them, as this will gain their trust and lead to brand advocacy and ultimately conversions!
Bottom line… you’ll have to define ROI yourself.
Just in case I lost you. Most brands on social media are both engagement and referral engines. That’s your ROI: you grow and engage your social community, and then direct them to your website.
The key take away, carefully cultivate an engaged audience through various ever-evolving strategies, so they are educated and ready to buy!