Friday, March 21, 2014

ROI Tips for Social Media Skeptics

Eight out of ten CEO’s are reportedly afraid of social media. If you’re one of the masses that still remain skeptical of this sweeping trend, you’re clearly not alone.

Social media is a thorn in an analyst’s side because metrics are hazy at best. It’s challenging to quantify all the time and thought required for a stellar social media campaign, and to juxtapose results in a tangible fashion. Many view it as a youthful rage with little to no substance.

Yet because the world is literally flocking to social media, you’re foolish to leave this tactic out of your marketing strategy. Social media is in fact a hotbed of innovation, and the most resourceful way to reach and engage with your selected audience.

Want to become a full-fledged social media fan? Great social media campaigns take meticulous planning and superior follow-through. If you’re ready to get through the clutter and strike gold, follow these tips to a better ROI and become a bona fide social believer.

1) Document Your Social Purpose
Social media has become a very spontaneous exercise, and the results reflect the lackluster planning. If you take the time to do the following, you’ll be light years ahead of your competition and have a substantially higher possibility to increase your ROI:
  • Clearly define your audience – who are you trying to reach via social media, and what platforms are they most likely to populate?
  • Create a content calendar for a full 12 month plan and stick to it. This includes blog posts, social campaigns, tweets, advertising, and email blasts. You can’t write the actual content this far in advance, but planning your campaign launches will ensure you stay current and on top of your overall strategies.
  • Draft a social media policy. Even if you’re a one person outfit, having a clear plan about your social strategy will be a godsend. Include the voice you aim to craft, your company policy on transparency and slip-ups, and rules for any additional contributors to follow.
2) Set Clear and Attainable Goals
Navy Federal launched a “4 Million Members, 4 Million Stories” social media campaign last year to great success. They had long since made 4 million a landmark milestone, and wisely put a campaign together to celebrate the achievement and to engage each and every follower in this success.
This is a brilliant move for any company to be inspired by. You can’t actually feel the success of your social efforts without having clear goals that you can feel fantastic about reaching. Remember it’s not just about follower numbers, but engagement too. Celebrate milestones like high numbers of retweets or mentions, comments, traffic spikes, app downloads, and relevant shout-outs.

3) You Have to Give to Receive
Since engagement in the social space is paramount to an increased ROI, be crafty about conceiving ways to get your audience involved. With the aforementioned Navy Federal campaign, the company asked followers to submit videos touting their favorite things about the bank. In return, they gave out gift cards ranging from $100 to $4,000. Don’t just ask rhetorical questions of your audience; reward them for their interest and efforts. Not only will you see your social signals increase, but overall brand loyalty will skyrocket too.

4) Diversify – Go Where Your Fans Are
Facebook and Twitter are the obvious go-to’s in the social stratosphere, but if you’ve done your homework on your audience, chances are they hang out in lesser known spaces too. Comb through the communities on sites like Google+, Pinterest, Vine, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Four Square, and incorporate the relevant sites into your campaigns. These sites are more specialized and somewhat less competitive, which increases the odds you’ll see an ROI increase as well. This all boils down to an intimate understanding of your core demographic. Without it, it’s a guessing game, and this is precisely what sours folks on social strategies.

5) Adopt a Fluid Approach
The web is a very dynamic landscape, and your marketing channels should be too. Pay special attention to where you’re receiving the most engagement, and be willing to shift focus to other platforms if warranted. If Facebook is fairly flat but Pinterest is inciting lots of conversations, you know where to focus. Don’t become attached to any platform due to overall popularity; let your audience guide your efforts.

6) Engagement is the Number One Factor
If you can’t get your audience talking, your ROI will most certainly stay flat. To get folks excited about your campaigns, you absolutely need to draw them in. To do so, you’ll want to ask relevant questions and involve your audience creatively.

For example, say you run an online company that sells auto parts. Instead of asking your followers to espouse their favorite things about your brand (which many may not really be familiar with), ask folks to tell you the story of their first car purchase, with words and pictures. Reach out to people on a level that feels emotional, nostalgic, and valuable – then tie that in to your own company identity. This may not be an obvious or literal tactic at first; don’t fret if it feels a bit disconnected at first. Once you have your audience’s engagement, you can gradually shift that to a more marketing-centric discussion.

Social media is a goldmine for increasing ROI, but it truly requires some intelligent long-term strategizing. Take the time to know your brand and your audience, and plot your domination one campaign at a time. Create a solid and consistent voice, and stay very present and relevant in the minds of your followers. Through this consistency and hard work, you can absolutely see a ridiculous spike in profits for your brand. Don’t be one of the skeptics that is missing out on the power of the social space to boost your ROI. There are billions of eyeballs out there waiting to feast on your content – you just have to reach out and find them.

What other social media strategies have helped to increase your company’s bottom line?
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