Social media ROI
Although social media has been around for about a decade now, it’s a topic that so many businesses still struggle with. First and foremost, everything you do online has to be grounded in an assessment of not only the financial implications, but whether it aligns with your values and brings you closer to realizing your purpose as a company.
For example, millennials have grown up seeing businesses start from scratch online and it has influenced their willingness to invest in being part of a new brand over making a long term commitment to an established company, but that can change if a company offers a sense of purpose. Social media is a form of online advertising, and advertising is about appealing to your customer’s emotions. Social media, if not done correctly, can seem like you are shoving your product or service down someone’s throat, and that can negatively impact your brand right from the start, so you must be very careful to strategize how you approach every single post that you write on your social media channels. Many people just fly by the seat of their pants and post when the mood strikes them. This is not a good choice! Posting on the fly is not strategy, it’s careless advertising. For example (and this doesn’t apply to only one age category…I know you’re thinking seniors) but more often than not, I’ve seen millennial and gen x-ers do this even more than baby boomers, they will use their personal Facebook page to post business related “ads” over and over again to the point that their “friends” will end up hiding their posts because they don’t want to see it anymore. That defeats the whole purpose of using social media for business. Think of it this way, the strategy for social media for business advertising is totally and completely different and separate from using social media for the purpose of being social with your friends, and if you start posting and sharing your business ads on your personal page, you’ll have a hard time recovering. So lets get down to business and start at the very beginning with some words of wisdom by Erik Qualman:
The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years.
It’s no surprise that businesses who are not effectively using social media are falling behind their competitors, and fast! There are hundreds of social networks out there now, the largest of course are Facebook and YouTube, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Which one(s) you should use is highly dependent on your industry and your target customer. The most important take away is that you do not need to use all of the top social networks as long as you use one or two of them well. We recommend starting with just one… and learn it well.
The top Channels
Lets talk about Facebook first since it’s the largest channel and many people all over the world already use it. Here is an example: Dan owns a gym, but his competition is fierce because the big box gyms across the US like Golds or LA Fitness offer extended hours and good monthly pricing plans with a variety of classes like spin and yoga at all hours of the day and night so that Dan’s small business just can’t compete. But, Dan’s strategy is a little different, he markets his physical fitness facility to specialized groups such as youth, high school and college sports teams that train in a group setting. He’s got some teams in place, but he’d like to expand his business. How can he use social media to drive his digital strategy? First lets evaluate who his target customer is. At first glance, you might think his target is youth sports teams, but for the purpose of his strategy to scale his business, his target customer is actually parents. Why? Because parents pay the bills and ultimately make the decision as to whether their children are going to participate in sports and conditioning workouts. Lets consider the beliefs, attitudes and values of these parents, especially parents of youth teams. It’s not unusual for both parents to work, so that means making sure the class is available at a time of day that is convenient for working parents. It also means doing some research so that the class time doesn’t interfere with the school sports practice schedule. What about promoting a special discounted rate for parents to join the gym and work out while their children are at sports practice? This makes logical sense because now the parent(s) can get their workout in at the same time and at the same facility while their children participate in the youth conditioning workout. Now your online ad really means something…it connects directly with the target audience. You’re not just advertising another gym, you’re advertising something unique and different. And, parents talk to each other. Remember, word of mouth is much more powerful than any advertisement online, on tv, or otherwise, so one happy parent will tell another parent and so on and so forth. Thats just one example.
Now you’re probably not going to advertise this particular service on Pinterest, so turn your focus to Faceboook because that will give you the forum for people to share, like and comment. Lets examine another example. A stay at home mom who is very good at sewing decides that she’s going to start a business monograming items. She doesn’t have the budget to set up a website, so she will begin with setting up a Facebook page and share her items using Facebook and Pinterest. The first step for this person is to begin taking pictures of her items. In a situation where you make a product yourself, a photo is worth a thousand words. Be keen about planning your page, you’ll need to be prepared for people to ask questions, and you’ll need to be prepared to respond to those questions in a timely manner. You can’t set up your business page and then not log on to your Facebook account for a week because you might miss something.
Facebook has over a billion people, making it larger than some countries, but YouTube is a very close second, in fact 2/3 of all mobile activity is video. Think about what the sewing mother is doing with her business. Is she strictly producing items for sale, or is she teaching others how to sew too? Answering questions like this will help determine which network to focus advertising efforts on. For example, Twitter is more of a news network than a family and friends network; LinkedIn is strictly business which typically keeps the emotional rants away but with that it also eliminates an entire customer base, so its important to evaluate who your target customer really is. Pinterest is perfect for foodies and artisans alike because visually our senses are easily stimulated by beautiful images. Since Facebook is the most widely used social network, a really effective ad campaign can have a profound effect on your bottom line, but it needs to be set up correctly in order to be effective. At first glance, Facebook wants to make it easy for people to “think” they’re using Facebook for business so you may have noticed the little “boost” button which basically puts your post into an ad format and allows you to quickly turn your post into an ad with the click of a few buttons. Unfortunately, this is a little trick that Facebook uses to appeal to the masses and it’s not really that effective at promoting your business. We highly recommend taking the time to understand exactly how to set up your digital media to get the most out of digital advertising.
Back to the top channels. If your business is primarily based on video and selling video, you’ll be using YouTube. For example, if you are doing cooking demonstrations, or yoga demonstrations, or maybe you’re teaching people how to play the guitar, if your business is strictly a service instead of a product, then you are going to be using YouTube (or vimeo which is just like YouTube) to sell your service. If your product or service is something that requires consistent change, for example if you are a life coach or your business is a type of consulting service which requires you to communicate with your customers multiple times a day such as by providing positive reinforcement with motivational quotes or recipes, then you’ll be using Twitter often. If your business is an HR company, such as a recruiting firm, Saas, or a B2B company (in other words, the primary way you make your income is to sell your products and services to other businesses) then you might consider LinkedIn in as your primary social network because that will enable you the opportunity to connect with other business customers or people who are looking for work. LinkedIn is also a good way for small business owners to build relationships and sales leads by furthering connections with the people they already know and do business with. Lastly, if you are an artisan then Pinterest is going to be your primary focus because while the other networks are also very visual, your target customers are using Pinterest specifically to seek out recipes, craft ideas and unique gifts that they know they can’t find as easily on the other networks. So as you can see, understanding the primary purpose of these networks as well as zeroing in on who your target customer really is, is a key factor in determining which network(s) you should focus on. There is certainly no sense in trying to use all of them, it’s just not necessary or economical for your time or your sanity!
How to identify your target customer
Where do you want your customers to come from? We all want ideal customers; lets face it, it’s hard to deal with difficult customers and they exist in every industry. Some people ask a million questions and then never buy your product, others are never quite satisfied with your product, others take full advantage of your service and then some. How do you target the ideal customer without attracting the wrong customer?
93% of all buying decisions are influenced by social media.
The first step is to determine exactly what your ideal customer looks like. Remember, social media is kind of like the law, it doesn’t discriminate. So no matter how much money you make or what kind of degree you have, if you’re speeding down the road going 50 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone, you’re going to get pulled over whether you have a lot of money or not. With social media too, everyone has equal ability to set up an account and make a comment. While you can try hard to target your ads to a certain demographic, you never know who will “find” your business and comment on it. Our best advice in this situation is to treat everyone with dignity and respect at all times. If you find that your cortisol levels are raised by a strangers comments, walk away from your computer and do not respond for at least 24 hours; this is the single most important thing you can do to protect your reputation on a public forum. In the meantime, to get started identifying the ideal customer for your business, download our free worksheet!