Here’s a question that all PR practitioners and their clients are asking and no one has yet to find the solution – how do you measure social media return on investment?
Nick O’Neill of Social Times recently wrote an article titled, “How to Measure Your Social Media ROI: Don’t.” In the article, he tackles the topic and gives his feedback on why PR practitioners and their clients shouldn’t force the issue of measuring social media ROI. He highlights the following three points.
Traditional Digital Marketing is Measurable – O’Neill said, “If you want to start selling something, turning to social media is not the first channel to turn to.” In his article, O’Neill acknowledged that, “large companies have no option but to embrace social media to engage their audience.” One of his suggestions to drive people to a particular social media site is to launch a Facebook advertising campaign (ultimately the ROI for this type of campaign would be measured by using traditional conversion metrics even though the communications model is different). When all is said and done, all traditional digital marketing models have standard metrics.
The Value of Social Media is Priceless – “With social media, the model is completely skewed. Can you say that a $500 investment will result in 1,000 visitors to your site? Also what percentage of those will convert in comparison to traditional sources? It’s difficult to track that information and while it is possible, the complete value of social media cannot be measured,” said O’Neill.
As a PR practitioner, demonstrating the value of social media is always a challenge, especially if you are proposing the integrated communications tactic to individuals without social media know-how. As O’Neill said in his article, “The value however is not tangible and just like any other intangible asset; social media strategy can not be given an assessed value.”
Make a Minimal Investment and Determine the Results – “The reality is that social media marketing is not expensive,” said O’Neill. “Even if you are a small business and don’t have a large budget to invest in social media, making a minor investment is well worth it.”
I completely agree with O’Neill – you will never know if social media can work for you and your company if you don’t give it a try. Starting small and dipping your toes in the waters of the social media sphere is the perfect way to take your first step in understanding how to harness social media and put it to work for you. And like O’Neill said, “The result is a community of brand advocates and a more effective way to reach those that are being critical of your company.” Like utilizing public relations services, social media engagement is an investment in your company’s long-term growth.
One of the biggest draws to using social media for business is the "free" aspect. We can access thousands of people for "free." Very enticing until we realize our time is not "free."
The answer is in our strategy. Coming up with a viable strategy to reach our ideal audience and then generating a plan to transform contacts into relationships, referrals, prospects, and clients requires planning and careful consideration.
Most people aren't spending enough time on strategy for their business. The ROI will increase dramatically with a viable strategy and consistent actions.
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