I think we’ve all been asked to prove how effective social media is. It’s a conversation I have regularly with clients and prospects.
Only the other day, I was sat in a room with four senior marketers from a large enterprise software company, only to be asked, how do you track and know that the social element delivered that result?
On the surface this seems like a valid question, but there’s two responses to this.
1. You can link social to ROI
The first is… really? In an age where we can link digital marketing to performance on the bottom line, everyone expects there to be a clear ROI with social media. And with the right tracking, reporting and systems integrating with each other, it’s possible.
It’s also possible to know without fancy systems, but it’s a manual trawl. You’ve got to get your sleeves rolled up and dig around in the data.
In the same conversation, I asked if there was a desire from the board to understand the ROI of social media activity. The response was ‘thankfully, no. I’m lucky’. So far, you are lucky, but that may change soon.
2. You are not alone
The second response is, you are not alone (this is where I hear Emi burst into a Michael Jackson number). So many marketers struggle with demonstrating ROI from social media.
I know very few people who are able to know clearly how effective their social media activity is. They’re doing it because they believe they have to and in most cases they’re just touching the surface.
When you’re just putting out a few posts and hoping that you’ll increase website traffic, I can’t imagine that you’re going to get a decent result. But you keep on going because you feel you have to. Everyone else is doing it, so it must work, right?
Like with most things you’ve got to work it.
Let’s face it, social media marketing is pretty much still in its infancy. It’s evolving fast, but most people don’t get under the surface of the intricacies to really understand how to make it work, particularly in challenging landscapes. And to make it effective, you need a range of people involved.
What about the ROI of social media?
What’s interesting is that very few people I speak to are actually able to attribute their digital marketing to pipeline, let alone one specific channel. So in response to the frequent question ‘what’s the ROI of social media?’, I suggest you take a look at this: (Warning: explitives).
Gary Vaynerchuk puts it eloquently. In summary, it’s not one single interaction that delivers the ROI, it’s every touch point with a prospect or client on their journey, right through their life with you. You wouldn’t ask what’s the ROI of advertising or TV, so why are so many people transfixed with knowing the ROI of social media activity?
My favourite part is where Gary says ‘you take all the money you’re spending on dumb shit and you put it into humans’.
So let’s get back to effectiveness.
The humans behind your social media need to be effective
As Gary points out, it’s about the humans behind it. The social media activity you implement is only as effective as the humans designing it, planning it, carrying it out and reporting on it.
And believe me, it takes all sorts.
Like with any area, there are specialists and with something as broad as social media, you need different types of people involved. Different activities on social require different skills, approaches and capabilities. You wouldn’t expect a PR person to suddenly create a PPC campaign, yet when it comes to social media, people do.
There needs to be the balance of:
- Those that promote and generate awareness (more PR types)
- Those that manage the ad campaigns (digital advertising specialists)
- Those that listen and monitor (generalists)
- Those that are able to have conversations off the cuff (engagers)
- Those that respond to customer service enquiries (service orientated)
- Those that build relationships (likely to be sales)
- Those that can sell (definitely going to be sales)
It’s rare that you find all those attributes in one person. So for success, you’re going to need to pull in others who can provide the support you need and then you need to co-ordinate it, so that you can track it – right into the CRM system for revenue analysis.
So, when someone asks how effective is social media, the usual things that go through my head are how effective is the person or team running the social media activity, and how effective is the set-up in getting to grips with the performance?
And most importantly: what’s the plan?