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I'm going to start this conversation by saying what every marketer wants to tell you, and most don't have the huevos to. ROI? Get. Over. It.
Now that I've made a few enemies with that last line, allow me to explain.
Your parents. Your grandparents. Your aunts and uncles. If they knew how you were calculating ROI to make business decisions, they'd be incredibly disappointed in you.
If you're one of those business decision makers who has decided to NOT jump into the world of social media because you can't figure out the exact ROI of it, then you have missed the crucial lesson of growing up.
Your upbringing was everything. The way you were nurtured and taken care of. Your family spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on you in money and support. So...what was the ROI?
Can you put a dollar amount of it?
In many regards, the same can be said for social media. I'm not talking about the ROI of your advertising spend. I'm talking about everything ELSE.
We're constantly having this conversation with clients and prospects. Everyone want's to know, "what is my ROI going to be if I DO (insert social media outlet here)".
But let me tell you something outright. Social media isn't about selling. It's just not. It's about building and nurturing relationships - much like your family did for you when you were growing up. And the value of THAT is priceless.
Here's the incredible irony of the conversations about ROI that we have with many business owners. They'll spend millions of dollars a year on traditional advertising (television, radio and newspaper) where they can't track the ROI. But that's because they KNOW traditional advertising. They get it. They understand it. Social media? It's outside their comfort zone. And so they'll continue to dump millions of dollars into something they know even if they can't calculate an ROI. Why? Because it's comfortable.
I don't know about you, but here's where I'm comfortable. When I walk into the bank and I see a positive balance...because when it came to advertising, I forced myself outside of my comfort zone.
So here's what you need to start doing as a business leader in regards to social media ROI.
1. Stop talking to people.
That's right - stop talking to people. Social media isn't about you, as a business, talking to people. It's about you having conversations WITH them. Want to know why nobody is answering the questions you're posting on Facebook? Because nobody CARES. It's NOT about you. It's about THEM. Show ME value. Answer MY questions. Provide ME with an experience.
2. Start tracking and measuring social media ENGAGEMENT.
I could care less how many Facebook or Instagram followers you have. Because if we were going to play that game of "you show me yours and I'll show you mine", then I could go BUY more followers. But that does nobody any good, except the company selling false hope and fake followers. Show me ENGAGEMENT. Show me CONVERSATIONS. Big numbers are only as good as the conversions that they lead to.
3. Be where your customers are.
You don't like Twitter? Think your customers aren't on Instagram or Pinterest? Guess what? You're wrong. Want to start growing your business? Get out of your own way. Want to know where to spend money on advertising? How about looking at the platforms that allow you a hyper-targeted way of connecting with consumers?
4. Speak to your customers on social media in the native language of the platform they are on.
Are you speaking the same language when you go from Pinterest to Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Google+? Then you might as well be speaking a foreign language. Trying to talk to people the same way on Facebook and on Twitter is like walking into a biker bar with a bowtie. Don't be THAT GUY. More on this in a future blog - so make sure to keep following.
5. Engage. Converse. Repeat.
Imagine the customer who has a bad experience with your business, writes about it on social media, and then shares it with all of their friends. What is the lost opportunity cost of this for you? Now imagine responding to it, eating your humble pie, and having that customer come back in again and again and again and tell all of their friends about it? What's the ROI on THAT? I'd argue it's priceless. And yet so many "highly educated leaders" will demand that you demonstrate the numbers. I'll tell you what. While you work on the number crunching trying to figure out what relationships are worth, I'll be working on making another business money by helping them nurture those relationships.
6. Remember - nobody cares about your business.
They don't. Do you think someone is going to shop with YOU instead of your competition ONLY because you have been in business for 100 years? Nope. People don't give a damn about how long you've been around if you can't get them the product they are looking for in the way that they want it. Nurture relationships by making it all about the consumer. THEN your unique selling proposition about how long you've been around or how good you are to people comes into play.
7. Monitor your competition on social media.
Have you set up a thorough process to track what your competition is doing on Facebook and other forms of social media? NO? How are you not watching this right now? Oh, is it because you can't measure the ROI of social media management? Get over it. Because guess what? Your competition is watching YOU and STEALING YOUR CUSTOMERS while you sit around and drink your green tea latte in a peaceful world of ignorant bliss.
8. Start creating sales funnels through custom landing pages.
If you are doing ANY kind of advertising - traditional or digital - and you DON'T have custom landing pages, then you are failing yourself. The ability to track and measure is only as good as the value and experience you're able to provide to your consumer.
9. Start using Facebook Dark Posts.
Actually, DON'T start using Facebook Dark Posts. As a matter of fact, don't even ask what they are. Because it's a tool that we've been using for months to more than double and in some cases quadruple the conversion rates of Facebook advertising for our clients. It's the same reason why we've seen some clients increase their social media spend tenfold while all but dropping out of traditional advertising. So do me a favor. DON'T start doing this - because it's the best sales tool we've seen in YEARS and I want to keep it for our clients. :)
10. Start having fun.
99% of you take advertising FAR too seriously, which is probably why you're reading this article. If you want me, as a consumer, to want to do business with you - you'd better make it fun. Don't constantly republish reviews of your business on social media. NOBODY CARES. Don't push your product on Facebook. Nobody cares. Share with me content that I'll want to share with my friends.
There's a LOT of noise out there on social media. If you want your voice to be heard and your message to be received, you'd better make sure that people are first paying attention. Be where your consumers are. Start nurturing relationships. Track and measure the ROI of advertising - and if you're going to moan and complain about the ROI of social media to me, you'd better be able to first show - in detail - the ROI of EVERY penny you've spent on traditional advertising.
Remember - social media is about relationships. Start being a little better about having them.
If you found this blog to be helpful or eye-opening, please make sure to share it. Sometimes we could all use a little wake up call!Kyle Reyes is the President and Creative Director of The Silent Partner Marketing, New England's #1 Marketing Agency. We're a boutique marketing firm focused on helping businesses grow in an age of exploding technology. You can find him on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. He's the Chuck Norris of marketing. It's outrageous - we know. That's kind of the point. Outrageous marketing - extraordinary results.