Social Media: Return On Investment

How to Measure the ROI Basics of Social Media

Guest blogger Melinda Venable, Social Media Consultant
ROI of Social MediaNow that social media has entered the business end of the audiovisual industry, gone are the days when just having a presence and posting a few times a week justifies its continued time suck. If you are spending time, money and resources on social media, what is the value you are getting out of it? Measuring ROI can be challenging, but if you can simplify your process, you will be able to track your effectiveness, keep your finger on the pulse of the AV Industry, and make decisions based on insights you get from your social media platforms like Facebook and [The] Twitter.

Start with the end in mind, by outlining your objectives

To figure out your basic ROI on social media, start by thinking about the outcomes that you are trying to achieve. If increasing sales comes to mind first, then maybe that is your end goal. Now work backward and define the influences and actions that contribute to making a sale happen. Are you hoping to reach new prospects and start a conversation with them? Do you need to improve your relationship with your existing customers to increase their loyalty and word of mouth? Are you hoping to form new business partnerships and network with key individuals?

Each of these actions and influences should be articulated as distinct measurable objectives. Let’s take the example of needing to reach new prospects. We can presume that you need to keep a certain number of new prospects in your sales pipeline per quarter and that your marketing strategy includes who qualifies as a solid prospect. With some investigative research, find them on Facebook and/or Twitter and make it an objective to learn more about them and start a conversation.

All of this activity should roll up to a measurable objective like this: Find and recruit 20 new qualified prospects as followers on Twitter and 20 new likes on Facebook per month. For this example, 20 new prospects represent the metric that you will track and measure.  Think of it like a sales goal or quota.

Let’s take another example objective – Improve the relationships with existing customers so that they will increase their loyalty and word of mouth. Showing loyalty can be demonstrated by your customers in many ways: from being an advocate and frequent commenter on your business’ Facebook page, to clicking through on a link about a new promotion. What can you do to reward their behavior?

Your part comes in by providing well-planned, engaging and valued content, and listening and responding on a consistent basis. In this case, your measurable objective could be: Provide engaging content daily and respond to comments and questions in order to yield at least 100 comments on Facebook and 50 @mentions on Twitter per quarter.

Shoot for a number

Hopefully, you are starting to get some ideas on how to create specific measurable objectives that will help you achieve your end goals. One common question at this point is figuring out what number to shoot for. Is 20 a good number? 200? It may seem so arbitrary, but in fact, you can make some good educated predictions just like you do in estimating sales quotas. One starting point is by looking at your competition or a similar sized organization: How many comments are they getting a week on their Facebook page? Be sure to look at proportional numbers by doing a quick percentage calculation of the size of their community versus the number of comments. How does this compare to your current numbers?

Document your numbers and notes

Once you’ve determined all of your measurable objectives, create a simple spreadsheet. Decide the frequency of when you will manually check your numbers and be consistent. For example, every Monday.

ROI on Social Media

Document your current numbers as your “before” benchmark for each metric. Include a notes column by each objective’s metric to document observations about peaks or valleys. As you diligently track your progress over time, you should begin to observe what kinds of content, file types, events, etc are pulling in the most new visitors and engagement and compare to what is not getting response.

Try some easy tools to track your clicks, likes, and mentions

There are many tools available to measure social media progress. For those who are just starting to monitor their numbers, like a new exercise resolution, it’s best to keep things simple and consistent.
Here are three easy-to-use, free tools that will help you  measure your progress:

  • SocialMention – this tool tracks how many mentions your product, company or hashtag has received over a specified timeframe. Enter your keyword in the search field and results will show the real-time number of mentions (@mentions or retweets) on one or all platforms during a specified timeframe. Track this number periodically if your objective is to increase your product’s exposure and attract new community members. You can also see who your biggest advocates are and their influence level.
  • Facebook Insights – built right into the platform, this tool tracks many different metrics about your unique community and content, such as the number of new fans gained or lost over specified time period or the content file type or topic that yields the highest number of people “talking about this.” If you’re interested in building up your audience in certain demographic regions, or males vs females, for example, the Insights data will provide these insights. You must be a page administrator to view the data which is accessed via the “Insights” link under your brand’s profile photo on the left side of your Facebook page.
  • Bitly – this is a tool that creates trackable, shortened links that you can post on any platform. You can track how many people clicked on your posted link over a specified timeframe. If one of your objectives is to generate interest for a new product or service and you have a video or infographic to post, you can create a custom short URL using the bitly tool and be able to track how many people clicked on this link.

Numbers that are important to one group may not matter to another. It may take some exploration to find the right combination of tools that correspond to the exact metrics that are essential to you. Beyond the above mentioned basic tools, this wiki lists an extensive collection of measurement and monitoring solutions, both free and paid. Social media should be part of your overall marketing strategy as long as it is helping you achieve your business objectives.

What tools or processes are you using to track your social media programs? Let us know in the comments.

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Social Media Guidelines For AV

What is YOUR Social Media Policy?

Social Media Policy
Image Courtesy of TwitterFlash.com

Until recently, most audiovisual (AV) equipment manufacturers and re-sellers saw no place for social media in their business model.  Their social media policy was simply “No YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter while you are working” (or something to that effect).

But with younger generations now using social media websites to search for new products and businesses, today’s AV companies realize that they have no choice but to get on Facebook, and start doing The Twitter thang.  You and your employees need to promote your business as a brand, but also as individuals working together on the same team.

Your company may have employees who are already tweeting, blogging, or updating their status to hundreds of followers, oftentimes about work-related topics:  

  • first week at new job, so far so good.  Going out with new coworkers after work
  • my coworkers are all golfing in Napa, while I’m stuck in the office #whatamidoingwrong?
  • I think my boss needs a firmware update

But do those employees realize that some of their seemingly-harmless status updates could actually jeopardize their company’s future business?  What if an employee mentions a new product, software, or service that had not been released yet?  What if they mentioned a business opportunity that was off the radar of their competitors?  What if an employee was upset about recent management restructuring, or layoffs, and decided to go on a Twitter rampage?

By creating a basic social media policy for your company and its employees, you can minimize your risks online.  With proper training, your employees, marketing, and executive staff will understand that every voice matters.  You should encourage them to be themselves online, but to keep certain company values and guidelines in mind.  They need to respect copyrights and fair use laws.  Tell them that it is okay to discuss the company in general, as long as they stay positve, respect people’s privacy, and they don’t give away project leads, proprietary software, or internal information about the company like organizational structure or sales margins. 

The easiest way (that I have found) to get a social media policy started is to use the free tool on this website.  Once you have signoff from your marketing team and make it an official company policy, be sure to notify all employees in a meeting or memo, and ask for their feedback since they probably use social media more than you do.  From then on, consider it a living document that should be reviewed and revised every three months, incorporating employee feedback as the social media amoeba continues to grow and change.

So what do you do about the employees who are always on Facebook?  Well for starters, you could put them in charge of your new social media marketing campaign!  Not ready to do that just yet? Then maybe you could tell your employees that its okay to use social media websites and apps while they work, as long as they keep it to business related activities, or to break times, and that they try mention your company at least once a day, either in a status update, a Like, or a tweet.  You may also want to explicitly limit Facebook games, and establish procedures for moderating comments from the public sector.  Instead of rules, offer guidance, and encourage your employees to show their personalities and creativity online.  

Social Media Tools

My Top Ten Twitter Tools

If you are new to Twitter, you may not realize that there are a number of third-party websites, plugins, and apps that make it easier to tweet and follow other tweeters.  Twitter itself has a certain beauty in its simplicity, but it is not very user-friendly once you have connected with a few dozen people.   How can you prioritize what tweets you really want to read, vs. those tweets that are more optional?

Also, from a business standpoint, Twitter itself offers very little feedback in terms of your ROI.  How many people got your tweet, and who retweeted it?  What are people saying about you or your company online? When are your followers online?  When is the best time to send a tweet?  What are your neighbors tweeting?

To help answer these questions, here are my Top Ten Twitter Tools in no particular order:

  1. Tweetdeck.com allows you to sort your incoming tweets into logical columns.  You can create your own groups, follow hashtags, DMs or listen for others tweeting about you.  Since Tweetdeck was recently purchased by Twitter, the two will likely become one.
  2. Hootsuite.com is similar to Tweetdeck, but in addition to columns, it adds another level of organization with customizable tabs.  So, you might have a tab for weekdays feeds and another for weekends.  Hootsuite also gives users the ability to schedule tweets in advance
  3. FollowFridayHelper.com – #FollowFriday or #FF gives you a chance to recommend your favorite Tweeters to your followers, AND the Twitterverse.  Follow Friday Helper makes it easier to share the love, any day of the week.
  4. WhatTheTrend.com is very helpful when you don’t know what a particular hashtag means.  I was recently stumped by #NSN3D which turned out to be a Justin Bieber movie.  Whatthetrend is also a good place to “unofficially register” your hashtag for Twitter parties, industry topics, or events
  5. Tweriod.com will tell you what times your followers are online the most during the week.  It does so in a general sense, without breaking anyone’s privacy.
  6. Timely.is (notice .is not .com) helps you send your tweets at optimal times to reach the most followers.  You load up your queue to shoot a tweet once or thrice a day, but can also send tweets more immediately as needed.  You can turn off weekends, and track to see who retweeted your tweets, and even see how many poeple clicked your links.

    Timely.is

  7. Twittervision.com shows live tweets on a google topo map.  I wish more emergency responders knew about this tool; it might come in handy during a search and rescue situation.
  8. Twtvite.com (notice spelling) is like Evite for Twitter.  It’s normally used for Tweetups but can also be used for virtual online parties and Twitter chats.
  9. Trendistic.com also lists trending topics, but adds a graphic showing the trend over the last 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days, etc.  Certain trending topics may only last a week, others will ebb and flow over time depending on who is online.
  10. Visibletweets.com and Twitterfountain.com have serious potential for digital signage and live events.  Imagine a tweetup or a concert where patrons could tweet to a large screen using a certain hashtag.

You can sign into most of these tools and websites using your Twitter credentials, so its easy to bounce back and forth between them.  They also integrate with URL shorteners like bit.ly and tinyurl.com so you can track how many people have clicked the links in your tweets.

What are your favorite Twitter tools?