Laurie Pehar Borsh Digital PR
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Social Media ROI – it takes a village

Last year, I wrote an article for Jaffe–the legal industry’s full-service PR and marketing agency, entitled Come Out from Behind the Brand. I guess you can call me a traditionalist; I am a huge proponent of staying true to what social media actually means, and how it was originally developed toconnect people with people.  If you recall (or recall hearing), “the Facebook” was developed by a Harvard student (most of us know who he is) to help students connect with students about the happenings around the university. People connecting with people and, as we all know, the rest is history. My back to basics mantra: “Social media works best when people, not the brand entities that they work for, communicate with people about what and who they like and know of, the latest news and incredible stories, etc.”

Here’s the key: the more people in “the village” (i.e. company, or really any organization of any sort) who are “talking about” various things in the social media channels that either pertain or relate directly to their organization or company (brand), in representation of that organization or company, the more likely others (people) will follow, engage and talk about these people and more importantly, about the brand (company/organization) that person and their “village” represents or leads. In doing so , all of this can and will lead to increased online visibility (digital PR and publicity!) for the brand/organization which will naturally lead to or provide new opportunities (namely new business, sales, leads, further mainstream publicity, and so forth).

>>>Read my guest post on the Jaffe Blog.

About Social Influencer Marketing

I recently attended the Influencers 2.0 | ROI of the Influencer webinar presented by Social Media Today and sponsored by Act-On Software. I thought I’d share the webinar with you (click on the link above to listen; such good information!) as well as Act-On’s white paper…

Best Practices in Social Influencer Marketing

Social influencers have been around as long as society itself. A study on the 1940 U.S. Presidential election by sociologists Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz revealed that voters were more inclined to listen to the opinions of local leaders and political commentators than speeches made by the candidates themselves. In a subsequent book, Lazarsfeld and Katz introduced a two-step communication model which shows that ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders, and then to a wider population. The opinion leaders themselves gain their influence through more elite media, as opposed to mainstream mass media.

Today’s social media fits this model precisely. For decades, retailers have seen increases in sales when trusted experts or celebrities endorse their products or services. Movies that get good reviews tend to sell more tickets than those with bad ones. Actors endorse beauty products, watches, clothing, more. Now, with social media woven into our daily lives, more and more business buyers and consumers are reading reviews, tweets, Facebook posts, and blog posts about products or services before they decide to buy.

Online social influence is powerful. Read the White Paper >> here.

The bottom line: Social influencers are a cost-effective, efficient way to raise awareness about YOU, your company, product, or services. People trust information from opinion leaders more than they trust what comes from your marketing department, so a business that does well with social influencers has an edge over its competitors. it’s important to remember that influencers are building their own reputation as they build yours (and in my opinion, this should include ,,. By giving them something to talk about that’s a good fit for their audience, you’re helping them remain interesting and relevant.

Social Media and ROI: What Should You Expect? It depends.

Gaining ground within social media and digital/Web channels has to do with content and thought leadership. The more quality content you can generate, the more you (or your company) will be seen, heard, and followed. Add to this a high “engagement factor” (the amount of responding, sharing, that you and your followers engage in) then you are most likely on your way to a good Return on Investment (“ROI”).

That said, if you were to outright ask me, “What’s my return on investment going to look like?” I would be hard pressed to give you a number. Every client and every situation is different, from the industry or niche you operate in, to your reasons for wanting to engage in social media, to how involved and active you can or want to be.

Many of my clients come to me because they . . .

• Have little experience in social media, other than the occasional Facebook post or like, and simply don’t know where or how to start
• Don’t feel they have the time necessary to dedicate to beefing up their social media and digital presence
• Don’t know what’s reasonable to expect in return for their efforts.

Getting started and making the time are easy to address. Social media (at least how we know it as today) has been around in a big way since 2007. There’s history, there’s precedent, and there are clear do’s and don’ts. As for what’s reasonable to expect for a return on your investment . . . it depends.

With Social Media, ROI doesn’t show up as easily it does with direct marketing or advertising, where there’s a clear target and a beginning, middle, and end to a campaign. Measuring Social Media ROI is more complex, especially when Social Media is done in concert with other, more-traditional marketing efforts.

While I can clearly measure the exposure my clients get through various Social Media and Web channels—such as the number of tweets, LinkedIn shares, or Facebook posts; the number of new followers or connections; or an uptick in likes, Web traffic, and new subscribes—I can’t for certain quantify if Social Media alone is generating more sales. It’s simply impossible for me to link every client’s sale/new client acquisition to what ultimately influenced a customer to buy (unless I do a customer survey, of course, but that’s a whole other topic!). Most likely, there is no one thing that made it happen. Most likely, it’s a combination of various efforts made by my clients, including Social Media.

Social Media can go a long way to getting customers interested and to the “table,” but sealing the deal also relies on your customer/prospect’s emotional connection to your product or service, together with pricing and delivery. Is your product or service what the prospect wants? Is it what the prospect thinks he or she needs? And are you the one to provide it?

Ultimately, TV, Radio, Print, Social Media, the Web, and what you get out of your efforts with each of these mediums, is all about communication and approach. Just as most people wouldn’t produce their own TV or radio spots to sell a product or service, Social Media really should be viewed no differently—especially by busy executives and business owners who are running their companies and don’t have the time, the inclination, or the experience to optimize Social Media as a branding and messaging tool.

B2B Social Media PR/Marketing: It’s still about people connecting with people

Remember! If you are marketing your business to other businesses online (in social media channels especially):  A personal touch goes a long way when trying to make a connection with someone. Generic pick-up lines aren’t going to get you too many dates, and generic content won’t bring in many leads. To make an impression and start off on the right foot, whether at the bar or on your blog, you need to make sure the person you’re reaching out to understands that you’re right for them.  Read more.

After all, social media was invented “for people” to connect “with people.”  Right?

Loving this article in the OpenView (Marketing) Labs blog this week. OpenView Market Research Associate Brandon Hickie explains how to develop an “effective buyer persona” to take your (brand’s) content marketing to the next level.  I couldn’t have explained all this ANY better myself–something I have been preaching for YEARS!

Buyer Personas: The Key to Targeting Your Content Marketing for Real Results

5 Content Marketing Rules PR Can Play By, Too

Love this part:

Business (and personal) brands build relationships with customers via three levels of commitment:  relational, transactional, and contractual.
Content marketing – like so much of PR – is generally concentrated in the ‘relational’ phase, in which audience attention is garnered – and kept.

“We’re moving from getting attention through interruption to a useful conversation…”

 

Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media?

As a publicist and promoter, my view is that social media is, just that, MEDIA. It’s new media, as TV once was 65 or whatever years ago.

Social Media is NEW media. It’s not direct mail and so it should be used to generate engagement and relationships and trust via thought leadership. This will drive new business and opportunity over the long haul.

There is NO QUICK viral fix (it happens, but rare and usually fleeting).

Social media content must be consistent and interesting. No, it won’t hit home with all, but if handled correctly it will be absorbed by the people who matter (target audience).

And I am all for quality advertising, but not the junk that has cluttered TV or radio by any means! My hope is that marketers/businesses/people stop the “When will I see my ROI” and the expectation that every message and link posted will attract a new customer, client or sale. The social media marketing term needs to go away. Marketing should be all-encompassing in all areas of media: print, television, radio, web and or social media.

A response comment to: Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media? – Forbes 7/5/2012

By Shel Israel, Contributor 

Article: 

First, a brief history of mass media:

There once was a Golden Age of Television. During that time, some pioneers of the new media talked about exposing everyday people to opera, theater and fine arts. They talked about proving the sort of information that could build a better-informed electorate.

After a few years, the decision makers decided, “Screw it. Let’s give the masses I Love Lucy and get rich selling cigarettes and detergent.”

There was once a Golden Age of social media, when people talked about the ability to find useful, interesting, valuable people to talk with all over the world. Businesses of all sizes discovered that there was great value in listening and engaging with customers and other relevant people. What had once been one-directional monologues became two-directional dialogs and most people saw that it was good.

Then the marketers got their hands around the throat of social media strangling engagement and stuffing messages down its throat.

This is where we are at in social media. The medium that has already demonstrated miracles is in danger of becoming the same sort of vast wasteland that TV became. I wrote about this back in February and do not wish to be redundant, but in the last four months, I’ve seen an avalanche of disturbing evidence that the marketers are taking control of a medium and in so doing are damaging that which makes social media special, different and so very powerful in so many ways.

Here are a few solipsistic observations:

The language has changed. Six months ago, we social media people in large companies were still talking about listening engines and the daunting challenges of measuring engagement. Now I am hearing about making social media “more transactional,” rather than conversational. That difference can be fatal to quality in a very short period of time.

The org chart has changed. In most large organizations social media started as a skunkworks, set aside from the traditional organization so that they could innovate and even disrupt to help bring companies and customers closer together. Social was seen as an enabling technology, able to serve diverse needs of many departments. With increasing frequency, it is now being moved into marketing, where decision-makers are trying to make it a better marketing tool at the expense of support, recruiting, product development and more. Organizations are back to measuring social media programs in terms of ROI, which makes as little sense as determining the ROI of wearing clothing to a business meeting. There are just some things that have obvious value, but are very hard to measure in dollar value.

Listening is ebbing. Shouting is flooding. A few years back, it was striking to have a Dell guy say he was sorry that customers were enraged over support. Or a basketball team owner admitting that the coach overreacted, or the vice chairman of an automaker using a blog to take on an unfair auto review. The sort of startling, human, candid and conversation-igniting stuff is becoming as rare as it was before social’s advent. Instead, we are seeing tweets and posts, videos and blogs that are back “on message,” with individuals using the corporate “we” as if they spoke for tens of thousands of fellow employees all marching in happy harmony to the relentless drum beat.

Social media is not yet a vast wasteland by any measure. The Give Lucy-ites have not yet won, and those who consume social content are not about to start hacking from inhaling what the marketers are selling. But in the world, where changes come at the speed of the internet, I see danger here.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing that social media should not be used to market goods, products and brands. I’m all for it. But social works best when you use the classic definition of marketing: that it’s about relationships with customers and that markets are actually conversations. Certainly, using social media to create interest, awareness and excitement among customers and prospects is very legitimate.

But do not confuse conversational marketing tactics with smarmy sales hype. Do not confuse the value of getting others to say you are great because you have done something great with hokey promotional vote gimmicks.

What is being lost has enormous strategic and value potential for enterprises that steer the smart course. You can collaborate with customers to make your products better and bring them to market faster. You can use social media to reduce traditional marketing launch costs. You can have a 24/7 focus group composed of people who care rather than get paid. You can start conversations with the best and brightest members of your community and recruit them as employees, partners or vendors.

All this and so much more. It is not all about to hurl itself into the air and fall onto a spear. But there is danger here and I hope that if you are part of the millions of people who touch upon social media strategies, you give this matter some serious rethinking.

Corporate executives want a quick ROI in social media; they should look at it as long-term “best investment!”

Corporate executives are still bent on getting a quick ROI out of social media…a legitimate request yes …also a stalling tactic?  Great read via the PR News Blog (August 19, 2011): http://ow.ly/69Fp2.

According to Pepsi Co’s global head of digital Bonin Bough, being gripped by fear of adapting to social media can be fatal (for organizations): “Failure to adapt to the digital evolution is written on the balance sheets of companies.”

Staying away from social media due to fear of failure or spending the time or money that needs to be dedicated to a long-term investment is not the way to get along with a new media channel that is certainly here to stay.  There is no doubt that social media and the web in general will create a shorter term investment as it settles into the norm.

For now, we must invest with patience–and it’s a very small long-term investment to make for what is sure to be a huge ROI in the very near future.  To that end, this is not about “waiting for the best time” –when social media is “well-developed” for immediate ROI.  What form of media DOES provide immediate ROI anyway?  Print ads, news stories etc. — sure, but also fleeting if you don’t keep the advertising going or the PR machine pumping.  Social media is and will be no different than other media channels– it will eventually give way to long-term, consistent return on investment.  Social media, as Bonin Bough says, is here to stay and it is NOT a fad.

Therefore, I believe that every company should now at least have the social media/online persona basics in place.  And the focus should not only be on the main company brand, but also on executive leadership as well as employees.  It will soon be a must for the CEO, CMO, COO etc. (company leadership) to engage with online followers/audience on a regular basis–and having employees engage for the benefit of the company brand is certain to become another key ingredient for all company brands looking for success in the social media space. This will soon be the new reality of marketing and business development.

All-in with Social Media Yet? It depends …(right?)

Does social media really work? 

As a public relations professional and social media PR producer/manager, I get asked that question all the time, especially as companies big and small and individuals from all sorts of industries and professions jump aboard the social media bandwagon. (It’s as though someone’s built the better mousetrap . . . and everyone wants in).

Of course social media “works,” but what that means varies by business and by individual. It really comes down to the results you desire and your audience. Just because you think social media is a great idea, doesn’t mean they do.

Can social media raise awareness of your company or personal brand?

As a long-term strategy, that’s a big “yes” on both accounts. Of course, you have to work at it, you have to generate quality content, and you have to be vigilant. But the ease with which you can push out posts and blogs and tweets makes social media a natural for creating “buzz” about you and your products or services and for keeping the volume cranked up to a healthy “11.” Plus, it doesn’t cost much to get your feet wet (though I will argue that you get what you pay for: getting your feet wet is quite a stretch from realizing social media’s maximum benefit for your business).

Having said all that, you might feel tempted to toss all of your eggs into the social media basket. Not so fast . . . hear me out.

Despite all that’s been said about it, Social media is not the cure for your every marketing ill. It’s important. It’s powerful. It’s far-reaching. But, really, social media is just another “channel”—a very robust, new, and exciting channel, mind you—through which you can reach out to customers and prospects with relative ease.

Remember when cable TV exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, adding a whole universe of additional niche markets to mine? We didn’t simply drop our traditional TV, print, or radio marketing back then did we? No. At the time, cable TV simply represented another tool in our marketing tool box, one we needed to work with, learn, and “try out” to see how we could use it most effectively. Such is the case nowadays with social media.

For some, social media might comprise the bulk of their marketing efforts; for others, it may be nothing more than an afterthought, a “nice-to-have” but not a necessity. As a business owner or a business professional looking to increase your brand awareness, you need to consider whether social media can produce the kind of return on investment necessary to justify the amount of attention and resources you give it—just as you would with any other marketing tool. How you deploy social media boils down to your target audience, your product or service, and what you determine is the most effective way to reach out and engage your customers and prospects.

  • As an individual, how much time can you dedicate to creating and pushing out the content needed to position you or your company as a thought leader?
  • If you don’t have the time, do you have the resources to hire someone else to execute a social media strategy for you?
  • Once engaged in social media, how can you turn social media traffic into real sales? Getting fans or having someone tag you in a photo is one thing—it means you’ve been noticed—but how can you translate that into new business?
  • What ways can you convert social media traffic into sales traffic . . . or at least bona fide leads?

If these considerations seem vaguely familiar, it’s because they also can be applied to traditional media. Running an ad? What’s your call to call-to-action? Staging an event, what kind of time and resources can you dedicate to it?

You see, social media is really an additional way for prospects to engage in a dialogue with you. Ultimately, you still need to convert them into customers.

For sure, social media needs to be part of the 21st century marketing mix, right alongside the tried and true plus other new media that might be coming down the pike (whatever that might be!). But relying on social media to be your sole means for connecting with your target audience, at the exclusion or the downplaying of everything else, is risky business. Although, yes, it can work for some.  As I look back over the last few years (especially!), social media PR has worked for me quite well, but then again—I’ve paired social media alongside email marketing and old fashioned networking (channels).

I’ve seen many companies and individuals go “all-in” with social media, only to find that it’s not the end all/be all they thought it was—at least not in the short-term. Social media is a great way to increase your visibility over time through consistent blogging and frequent updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites—but getting customers and prospects to buy something from you still takes good old fashion legwork, quality leads, and the ability to deliver on your brand promise . . . and there’s no substitute for that.