Does your social media engagement add value to your organisation?

Article written by Tertius Kleinhans, Stone Consultant

Even today, many marketers and organisations are not sure how to measure the effectiveness and Return on Investment (ROI) of their investment into social media engagement.

Answer this: Without knowing how it will be spent, what the expected benefits to your organisation are and how these results can be measured, will you hand your marketing team a cheque for R1 000 000? R100 000? Even R10 000?

Yet this happens every day in both B2B and B2C organisations, when they discuss social media investment, marketing and engagement.

It is acknowledged that social media is an important channel in the marketing mix for most, if not all, organisations. This does not mean that it is a “one size fits all” scenario. Very few organisations have the same business objectives, target audiences, development needs or available resources at the same point in time. Therefore, every organisation’s social media strategy must differ and take that specific organisation’s needs into account.

Would Mercedes-Benz and the World Wildlife Fund have the same business objectives with their social media engagement? Or even Mercedes-Benz and Tesla? Almost certainly not.

It is critical to understand the business objectives, and the role that social media must play in achieving these objectives. Only then can you set your social media objectives, plan your content strategy and your execution. Only then can you measure your social media success against appropriate parameters and metrics.

Your business goals must at all times be at the centre of all communication activity and that against which activity is measured.

So – “Followers”, “Engagement” and “Reach” it is. Correct? Unfortunately, not. Social media success – and the measurements thereof – has evolved beyond that point.

If Mercedes-Benz reaches a million Martians with five social engagements every day, they all follow the company’s social media account and happily engage with the company’s posts, but there are no dealerships on Mars, has any business value and ROI been created?

Measuring your real social media ROI is possible – if you know what you want to achieve. The name of the game is conversions. Conversion is the number of appropriate prospects that performed a specific action that you wanted them to perform – whether that is a purchase decision, subscribing to your newsletter etc.

Online Reputation Management (ORM) software and social media analytics allow you to see how many people interacted with or were exposed to your brand, the brand sentiment, the conversations happening about your brand and gives you the tools to manage your reputation in the digital space.

When you now pair your social media analysis with website analysis (e.g. Google Analytics) you cannot only see how many people interacted with your content, but also effectively track an individual from their first interaction with your post, ad or link, the actions they performed on your website, and beyond!

Let’s say a specific Mercedes-Benz social media promotion resulted in 100 people of a specific demographic in New York city downloading a brochure from the website on a new model that was released, and that 20 of them booked a test drive at the local dealership.

Now that is a completely different scenario, and one that can be measured and evaluated against real metrics. Your cost per lead acquisition and ROI calculation is straightforward and a real evaluation of the success of your investment is possible!

It starts with knowing (and understanding) your objectives – which is why sound thinking and implementing a considered, integrated strategy is crucial for your success. At Stone this is at the heart of all our client strategies – defining what success will look like upfront, developing the tools to reach that success, and the ability to measure and realise this success.

After all, as it was stated in Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”