The million dollar question all business owners have when considering implementing social media is, “What will my ROI be?” And I hear ya. You’re expending time and resources to use these platforms so it’s only natural to wonder what you can expect in return. But, in order to measure ROI, it’s important to first understand why you are using social media and how your use of social media can potentially impact your brand.
As a social media services provider, one of the first questions I ask my clients as we begin crafting a strategy is, “What are your goals for using social media?” Because you see, there are differences in strategy depending on what a business wishes to get out of using social media so I want to make sure we are working towards the right goals. I’m never surprised when the immediate answer is, “To make more sales.” Unfortunately, I then have to explain why that probably isn’t even an option.
You may say it's just semantics, but unless people can buy products and services directly from your Facebook Page or other social channels, these platforms are not going to directly make you any money without using them to work towards achieving other goals; generating more sales may very likely be an end result of your efforts, but let’s slow down and really analyze what needs to be focused on first.
In order to help my clients better understand ways in which social media usage can benefit their business outside of the "more sales" mentality, I give them this list of goals to consider:
- Increased Brand Recognition
- Development of a Community & Conversation around the Brand’s Industry
- Established Rapport & Earned Trust in The Marketplace
- Achieved Go-To Resource Status for Information Related to the Brand’s Industry
- Maintained Top of Mind Brand Awareness for Prospects and Past Customers
- Enhanced Customer Service
By focusing on any of the above items, increased sales becomes a possibility. However, for the past year or so I've been conducting a bit of research that involves putting myself in the consumers' shoes and as a result, I have another item to add to the list - one that is not mutually exclusive but should instead be part of all of the other goals.
Don’t piss people off.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well be that the case, sadly there are a lot of no-brain businesses out there using social media. Harsh words, I know – but it’s time for a wake up call.
I recently read studies that found that the majority of tweets directed to a business and posts on a business’ Facebook Page go unanswered. UNANSWERED people! That is just flat out unacceptable. If you have a Facebook Page and/or a Twitter account for your business and I ask you a question, I'm looking for a response. Plain and simple. Your lack of response is only going to infuriate me and turn me off of your brand. The research that I've been conducting involves tweeting to, and posting on the Facebook Pages of companies from various industries and asking them a range of questions - the goal of the project is to analyze brand engagement and so far the results have been dismal. My findings are matching the recent studies; brands just aren’t listening or responding.
A quick example:
Recently I attended a concert at a venue I had never been to before, in a town about 60 miles from my house. A day or two prior to the concert I was trying to figure out what time I needed to leave my house to go and so I was particularly interested in knowing what time the headliner would be playing so that I made absolute certain I arrived in time. When I went to the website of the venue to get the address I noticed they had a Twitter account so I decided to tweet them and inquire about the scheduled times for the opening acts and the headliner. After about 24 hours had elapsed, I received an email notification that the venue’s Twitter account had started following me. Usually I’m excited when I get a new follower but this one really made me mad. Obviously whomever was managing the account received the notification that I had mentioned them in a tweet and that’s how I got on their radar – unfortunately they dropped the ball when it came to actually answering my question. Being the nice person that I am, I decided to give them another chance – so right after I received the notification that they had started following me, I sent them another question tweet asking for restaurant recommendations since I was unfamiliar with the area and wanted to eat before the show…… and…… nothing. Turns out when I arrived to the venue I found out that they actually offer a full menu there (not mentioned on their website) – so right there they lost the $40 I spent on food elsewhere.
The lesson to take away from this is simple - do you want to be one of those companies that has a presence simply for the sake of having a presence on social media channels (or because you feel like you "have to"), or do you want to be one of those companies that is working hard towards achieving any of the various goals that I mentioned above and in doing so are actively listening to, and subsequently responding to, the comments and questions that are being asked of you?
Your ROI depends upon your choice, and the choice is yours - will you make the right one?