How do you know if your organization’s social media participation is producing a good return on your investment (ROI)?
According to a panel of Cleveland social media experts, it’s all about converting your tweets, Facebook status updates, blog posts, etc. into dollars in the bank.
Panelists at The City Club of Cleveland on November 12 included (in picture below seated from left to right):
- John Heaney, VP at NESCO and Principal at Orange Envelopes
- Dominic Litten, Senior Account Executive at Fathom SEO
- Jason Therrien, President at thunder::tech
- George Nemeth, Chief Blogging Officer at Brewed Fresh Daily
The panelists, moderated by “Tech Czar” Michael DeAloia, LNE Group (at lectern in picture above), explored the definition of ROI as it applies to social media and provided tips to the audience of about 80 guests for getting the most out of their social media participation.
Michael kicked off the discussion by asking the panel why so many organizations are disappointed in social media the first time they try it.
According to Jason, organizations are often disappointed in the results because they didn’t set clear goals from the beginning. The key to measuring ROI for social media is determining ahead of time what you want to get out of your social media participation and how you’re going to measure it.
John says your goal should be to measure the financial gains that result from your social media participation. Whether you want to generate increased revenue from Twitter followers who buy your products, or decrease costs by managing customer service issues from your blog, the bottom line is that true social media ROI comes in the form of more money for your organization.
Sentiment also comes into play when talking about social media measurement, which can make determining total ROI a bit difficult, says George. Intangibles such as the tone of the comments about your organization posted online contribute to the success of your social media participation but are not as easily quantified.
Dominic advises organizations to monitor what is being said about them online and get involved in the conversations. Responding promptly to both positive and negative feedback can create more positive sentiment toward your organization, which could in turn result in more people willing to do business with you. All of this social interaction is searchable, so how you engage with people online will affect interactions later on.
Monitoring what is said about your organization online can also give you an idea of where you should concentrate your social media efforts. The people who are talking about you will determine where you will need to be, added Dominic. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time so you can engage the people who are most interested in your organization.
That doesn’t mean you should bombard your social media audience with a sales pitch. The panelists each stressed that social media should be used for building relationships and creating positive sentiment toward your organization online.
“Social media includes the word social for a reason,” said John. It’s important to spend the time to create quality content that will draw people to you and want to engage in conversation with you. Sales pitches will likely turn people off.
George pointed out that you can start to identify “brand ambassadors” online who spread good news about your organization and draw more people in. Your brand ambassadors will soon become your best salespeople. As Jason described it, “social media is word of mouth published.”
Bottom line, before jumping into social media it’s important to set clear goals and to understand that it takes time to build up good relationships with your audience. When you choose to invest the time it takes to engage your audience and connect with them personally, your return on that investment will be significant.
Panelist John Heaney has made video of the entire session available, which you can watch via the embed below or visit http://www.viddler.com/explore/orangeenvelopes/videos/7/.
For more information about social media ROI, the panel recommends that you visit http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com.