Here’s How to Make Your Social Media Investment Generate Real Returns

Don't waste your time counting retweets and likes. That will get you nowhere. Focus on real ROI instead: it makes a difference.

Social media marketing should really have only one objective: ROI. This isn’t exactly shocking, of course, because that’s your marketing department’s objective and your company’s objective. Social media is just like everything else: if it isn’t generating a return, it’s just costing you money. The path to ROI doesn’t need to be long or arduous. If you have a plan in place, to be honest, it can actually be pretty easy.

The good news is that you have everything you need in your company already. You likely have an internet connection, and that will get you to free tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You have expertise about your company’s product or service, and you have the phone numbers and email addresses you need to access it. What you need to do is pull it all together into a clear action plan.

Ready to generate some ROI? Here are five ways to go about it:

1. Know what you’re talking about: this may seem a bit basic, but it’s crucial. If you’re business is selling soybeans, your status updates, tweets and blog posts should show that you know about soybeans. You need to communicate information that will resonate with your target market. If you don’t, your readers will get the (correct feeling) that you can’t provide any value to them, and they’ll seek out your competitors.

2. Stay visible: you have to produce content more than occasionally. If you’re struggling with whether to value frequency or quality, you need to get past it and realize that both are important – and flexible. Low quality will damage your credibility, but low frequency will make the odds of your being seen terribly low. You need to publish often enough that you won’t fall off your target market’s radar.

3. Remember your funnel: you need to use social media to turn eyeballs into dollars. When you put together content and choose platforms, make sure you have a plan for: attracting readers, generating clicks and directing them to specific actions that will bring them into your sales cycle. Visitors aren’t good enough – you need leads.

4. Engage internally: social media success involves your company as much as it does your target market. Talk to your client-facing professionals, product teams and C-suite to make sure you understand the company strategy, marketing opportunities and market intricacies that can turn boring content into compelling insights. You may be the conduit for your company to the social media space, but it should be your company’s experts whose ideas are ultimately seen.

5. Measure ROI: social media and web marketing metrics fall short of what’s important. Instead of looking at clicks and views, get as close to revenue as you can. If you can’t track hard-dollar results, report on the number of leads you generate, and if possible, coordinate with your sales team to see how many of those leads advance in the sales cycle. If you’re using your social media process to support account penetration or other work with existing clients, measure the amount of intelligence you’ve delivered to your client teams. You can do far more than pull spreadsheets from Google Analytics.