by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)
Gary Vaynerchuk, social media evangelist, wine guy and author of books that include the must-read The Thank You Economy famously (or infamously) responded to a question on what is the ROI of social media with the seemingly flippant “What’s the ROI of your Mom?”
The return of investment in social media and social networks are not something that one can easily measure, even as platforms like Facebook and Twitter slowly share more information through their internal analytics. Social media is a marathon. Plain and simple. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t telling you the full story.
Can a company see an immediate upswing on social media platforms? Sure. Of course they can. Pretzel Crisps doubled their Facebook “likes” in three days through a savvy Facebook coupon campaign. But what does that mean? Will those same fans still be engaging with Pretzel Crisps on Facebook six months from now? The real metrics come from engagement and through connecting conversations to real results. The question for a lot of companies is about whether social media can help them to generate sales – the real ROI they’re looking for.
It’s important to understand that it takes an investment of time – the time of a real, live person (or, if a company is large, and has enough cash at hand, a bunch of them) – to properly implement a social media strategy. In the end, however, the ROI of the loyalty gained through those relationships built, cultivated and nurtured through proper community management and a thorough social media plan will be worth so much more than any traditional advertising campaign.
The company that wins with social media, using it to its best advantage, will be the company who uses social media not as a bully pulpit from which to scream their message. It will be the company that engages with its customers. As Ty Montague of Co: Brand said at Fast Company’s recent Innovation Uncensored conference, “If all you’re doing is talking, people get bored and wander off.” Even if the whole reason that your company started that Facebook page or Twitter account in the first place was to promote promote promote your brand – you can’t be obvious. Social media is about building communities and gaining trust.
Conversation is key in any relationship. The ones your company forms online, with its customers and clients, is no different. Use your social media platforms to share information that’s relevant to your customer. Share content that you’ve created, but also share content that you’ve found. Give credit where credit is due and praise those who’ve helped you along the way. And through it all, be real.
To take full advantage of social media, a company must move beyond basic level interactions. They must move beyond the “likes” and develop relationships through fan insights – comments left on Facebook pages and in reference to blog posts, Tweets and re-Tweets. Fan insight, negative or positive, can only add value to a company’s brand in the long term. It helps meet the needs of the clients/customers, to provide service to them, which helps a company learn what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. More importantly, it helps them learn those things in real time, when there is ample opportunity to get in front of any problems.
So? What is the ROI of social media? Of what the social networks can bring to your business? I’d say it’s priceless. Wouldn’t you agree?