As a business, if you are looking at your social media presence and only asking how much money it made you…you’re not looking at the big social picture. If that is really the only thing you care about…you’re only using sales media, not social. Some might completely disagree with me, mainly folks from the school of believing that anything and every thing you do absolutely has to tie back to revenue. It’s a hardcore belief, and, those that do lean towards this theory probably don’t care as much about the actual social community. Fair enough – everyone is entitled to their own theories and strategy, but with social media as it sits right now for businesses, there are several other measures that spell success.
I do agree that your messaging, content and overall social strategy should absolutely tie back to business goals. After all, your brand’s social media presence is still your brand. What you do socially should still resonate with your audience as an extension of your brand. That being said, that doesn’t mean that your social media presence has to directly gain revenue to be “successful.”
If you run a print ad in a magazine you might be able to track some conversion based off a specific phone number, a QR code with a tag, or a special url, but for the most part you really don’t know how many people saw that ad and said, “Cool, I think I might act on this, but just not right now.” That’s a lot like how specific messaging and content works in social media. If you are trying to push an action, for example, your post has a call to action to click on a link and buy something. A very salesy post (not ideal). You’re able to see stats on how many clicks it got and also how many sales transpired through the link from the post, but what about the thousands of people that saw the post and did nothing? Just because they didn’t create a “stat” doesn’t mean the messaging didn’t work. Who knows, they might have written themselves a reminder on a post-it note to act on it next week and purchase by another means. You would never have that stat as a result of your social media campaign.
This is why just looking at direct revenue from social media as the only measure of success is incorrect.
Social media is supposed to be social. Not just for sales.
You can absolutely track the sales that do occur, but just don’t forget to consider all of the other people your content reached and understand that you just don’t know what affect it might have had on them. Social stats only tell the story of those that decide to act on a piece of content (a like, comment, share, retweet, etc). I find myself often times seeing something and really liking it, but not necessarily “liking” it.
What if you are a brand that has a social/digital presence but your products are only sold in person; in a store? How could you possibly measure social success? Determine what social ROI means for your company first and foremost. Is it engagement? Awareness? Reach? Referrals to a website? Revenue generated via social campaigns? Other? There are a slew of things that could be defined as having a return on your social media investment. Prioritize. Once that’s nailed down, look at ways that you could actually directly impact the behavior of consumers in store, by way of your social presence. One idea might be to create a special social-media-community-only loyalty program. Develop a mobile loyalty “card” that literally can be accessed on their phone to scan when they purchase products in the store. They get a special social media discount on certain products/LTOs. You get their data from their in-store action. Everybody is happy. This is just one idea – you have to get creative. There is always something that can be done to break through that clutter. Social can impact how people behave when not in front of their computer or mobile screen.
I am a firm believer that engagement is where the meat of social success lies. What stories are people creating from your content? How “viral” did your content go based on your community interacting with it? What kind of reach did your content have due to shares and retweets? This is where you can measure how you are doing with what you’re putting out there. And I do acknowledge that many people reached don’t act and register an engagement stat (I just said it above). However, I think this is a far better representation of success as related to the purpose of social media than just making money.
Sales messages and posts are not what people are looking for socially. Users are not spending hours a day on Facebook to buy stuff, or to be told what they might want to buy. They want to be entertained. This is why cat photos go viral. And while a sales media strategy might work here and there, it shouldn’t be your #1 goal.
Entertain your community with great content relevant to why they liked your page in the first place, establish a content strategy that speaks from your brand, and the loyalty will continue to grow. Build a solid base of fans and followers (that doesn’t necessarily mean a big one, just a solid one) that actually come back for more because of great content, and these people will be more inclined to eventually spend money with you… Revenue will happen; it just might not happen straight from social media. So, don’t expect it to.
(The opinions are only those of Jeff Werkheiser)