The Return on Investment in Social Media…

moneyA good friend sent a link with an infographic and some text concerning the ROI of Social Media. Derivative link here. Originally posted/created here. It got me really thinking about this whole thing again – and it’s kind of a different ballgame in my eyes. I can sum up my thoughts on the ROI in social media in three words:

DON’T EXPECT ANY.

That’s my statement, and I’m sticking to it. Sort of…

See, if you go into social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, yadda yadda yadda) with the mindset of getting a real fiduciary return on your investment, I think you’re playing it wrong, or your expectations are a little skewed. Many of the big brands don’t make anything (financially) with having fabulous Facebook pages. Monetizing Twitter is difficult. YouTube – well, you can make a tiny bit of residual income with their ads, but – not enough to really make a dent. Reddit? The “others?” Don’t count on it. So – why do they do it? Why do they hire people to specifically work their social media outlets? Why should YOU do it? We’ll get to that. Patience. I’m not done prevaricating about the bush…

The real value in social media isn’t sales, it isn’t in collecting “likes” or followers (although this can be useful.) It’s about brand recognition. It’s about continuity. It’s about looking like you care and that you’re “in the game.”

First – brand recognition. This is a big one – and it’s a very hard metric to actually measure. But, really – the more you’re out there, the more eyeballs you can potentially reach. Reach large numbers and reach them often enough, and you’ll essentially implant your logo/colors/scheme/words into their subconscious. Then, when it comes time to look for services you offer, you’ve got a leg up in terms of recognition. Edward Bernays made a lot of sense. Good old Uncle Eddie. Brand implanting. It’s important. It can take a long time to establish, but don’t you think there’s a reason that Coca Cola is recognized around the world? It’s not for humanitarianism or being that much better than Laura Lynn cola. It’s for brand recognition. They spend millions every year on it – for a reason.

Secondly – branding continuity. If you have a gorgeous logo and a great website, you’re ahead of the curve in some respects. But – if people go looking for you on Facebook and you’ve got a blank page or a lame design, what does that accomplish in terms of building your brand or keeping it consistent (and thus, memorable)? Not a lot, matey – not a lot. You want to be available to customers, and have your brand consistent and, well, branded to match your overall marketing. Being disjointed in appearance or offering lame or broken bits to your viewer/consumer/customer makes you look like you don’t care about YOUR business – how does that build confidence? How does that help them remember you? How does that tie together with your marketing plan? Do you want customers and potential customers to see your logo and remember a half-ass Facebook presence? Or, do you want them to see your logo (or whatever collateral) and think of you having it all together? Continuity is at the heart of branding and marketing.

Third – direct marketing. Now, having likes and followers can be a good thing. It makes marketing easier in the future – and CHEAPER. If you have 2000 people liking you on Facebook, you can expect a return on marketing of 3-4% as opposed to 1/2 of a percent with other marketing efforts. That’s pretty sweet – and you know how much you pay, per eyeball for a brilliant Facebook promo post? ZERO. If you have 2000 people on Twitter and you can get 2% of them to close on any particular deal you offer, that’s money in the bank. When you have a lot of real, engaged and interested followers, you have a mailing list that is second to none. You can use that (judiciously) to market directly to interested parties – and your click-through and sales rates are WAY higher with such targeting.

Social media is good for other things, too – but for a business looking to “invest” in the social world, being realistic and understanding what kind of return you can expect will go a long way towards making you feel good about spending 80 hours per week on Facebook.* You’re not going to get rich on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. You can use them as road signs back to your moneymaker – but you want to make sure that your signs look good, look consistent and that they point to the right thing.

So – give us a jingle. Let us buy you some coffee and explain how we can help you not only look good with social media, but how you can work it right and set your expectations appropriately low

*it’s actually around 19 minutes per day, on average. Still too much.
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