Get Real Social Media ROI
One of the few upsides to our Great Depression-like dip in the stock market over the past 10 months-plus is that people are starting to get serious about return on investment from their social media/online community efforts. With marketing staffs and budgets cut to the bone, how can they not? Participating on Twitter or keeping a blog might be “cool,” but unless those efforts deliver comparable or greater ROI as email or search marketing efforts, marketers can’t afford to waste their time.
The good news is that efforts are starting to pay off. Take Dell's use of Twitter and the fact that its @DellOutlet account is responsible for $3 million in revenue. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a ton of money for a massive corporation like Dell. But consider that the distribution channel is essentially free — the only thing Dell is paying for are the few employees manning the account. How applicable is Dell’s example to that of a luxury brand that likely won’t find a huge target audience on Twitter? Or a company like Sears that sells large appliances that can’t be easily shipped?
While Twitter might not be the answer, branded online communities combined with the power of Facebook Connect might be. That’s not a knock on Twitter, just an admission that it might not be the answer for all brands. The reason a branded online community/Facebook Connect combo can be so powerful is threefold:
- Creating a social area of your website that includes engaging content, focused on lifestyle vs. products specifically, can help deepen loyalty, increase referrals and drive a higher propensity to buy.
- Using Facebook Connect, your community members will start to drag awareness of your content and brand into their Facebook news feeds. With more than 200 million users on Facebook, and each user having an average of 120 friends, this can become meaningful pretty quickly.
- These activities aren’t mutually exclusive of engaging in other social activities, such as a YouTube channel, a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account. In fact, having a community that these third-party channels can link back to can only make both efforts more valuable.
The next question: Where do you, as a marketer, get started? With so many options out there, it’s hard to know who's giving you the real “scoop” and who's just pushing an agenda. One place to turn is Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li’s prescriptive book, “Groundswell.” Another is to follow business-focused bloggers like former Forrester Research analyst Peter Kim and Ford’s social media lead, Scott Monty.