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ROI of Social Media: Show Me The Money

You may have come across self-proclaimed experts in the online marketing industry who claim to be know-it-alls when it comes to social media. They dub themselves ninjas or gurus. They rave on and on about how they can bring your business tons of likes, shares, or retweets. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype, but eventually you’ll have to ask yourself some bottom line questions: What is the monetary value of social media, and how does utilizing this tool directly affect my sales?

The hard truth is that it is impossible to perfectly say just what exactly the return value of social media is. Does one follower equal $1? How about a share on Facebook? Is that worth $5? With questions like these floating around, it’s understandable why businesses may choose to opt out from investing in social media marketing. There isn’t exactly anything tangible about the principle just yet in terms of revenue.

Social Media: Knowing Your Worth

88% of 750 surveyed marketing professionals said they don’t feel they could accurately measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns, according to Adobe. Even though it can be difficult to effectively communicate the value of social media in terms of specific business objectives, brands should still participate in growing their online base. Just because there may not be any concrete evidence that social media dictates purchasing behavior, brands should not fail to recognize and capitalize on its benefits.

Connecting with Your Audience — The Best Things In Life are Free

Thanks to social media businesses have the possibility to share their brand with online users who may not have engaged or interacted with it before. Social media allows brands to create online communities around their products or services. Online community managers can form relationships that once were not there before and continue to grow their audience by providing a benefit to them. Also, social media can be akin to a long-term investment. Businesses who utilize the tool are essentially buying mind share in hopes that it will bring a payoff eventually. However, the main idea here should be about brand’s becoming familiar with online users who don’t really know anything about it yet. Any business objectives should come later.

It is important for marketers to facilitate and encourage communication between themselves and potential clients. This will help to increase dialogue that reinforces the brand’s values. This also creates an open system where prospective buyers are not simply told a message, but instead can feel important by contributing to the actual conversation or campaign. This two-part system could lead to transactions in the future. Even though there isn’t a measurable way to completely figure out how social media leads to direct sales, at least with this method the conversation has been channeled toward your brand. Now if there was only a way to figure out just how to direct that channel toward sales. That code isn’t cracked yet.

Understanding Traffic From Social Media

Even though the exact return of investment of social media is unknown, there are some trackable ways to see where a brand’s online audience is coming from. For instance you can prove that a Twitter user clicked on a particular advertisement and then landed onto a businesses’ homepage. If a business placed an ad on Twitter and saw a bump in traffic, then they would have a good idea that it’s working. Also, companies can give out unique call tracking phone numbers on specific social media handles. That way a business could learn where their leads are coming from.

A great example of tracking leads came from California Tortilla when the restaurant offered a Facebook-only special, redeemable at all store locations. A secret password was posted on the restaurant’s Facebook handle, which led to a special offer of free chips and queso with any burrito purchase. Since the business gave their customers an objective to perform, the restaurant was able to see where their leads were coming from.

So be weary of anyone claiming to have the digital world completely figured out. It’s still in its infancy, and marketers in the industry still have a lot to learn. At this point in time the effective use of this principle is still a guessing game, and a real social media expert would acknowledge his or her current limitations. Even though social media can’t be measured in dollar signs just yet, there are still some great benefits that should be utilized to help bring awareness to businesses.

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