New to rVue? Sign Up Now
Silicon Valley--(PR 2.0)
New York--(MediaPost Publications)
Cleveland--(Digital Media Buzz)
San Francisco--(PC World)
As we watch the economy do what economies do - have growing pains and adjust to challenges - it becomes ever more apparent that doing things the old way just won't work anymore. That is true of many of the old ways, especially when it comes to how companies advertise and grow their business.
It is my opinion that the return on investment (ROI) for traditional advertising will continue to shrink, even as companies using traditional advertising methods continue to throw money at ads in hopes that their company will survive these choppy financial seas. Instead of panicking and clinging to the deflating lifeboat of old ideas, now is the time to stand firm and innovate.
Evaluating the Situation
Before a company can find success in branding and marketing through non-traditional means like social media, companies and entrepreneurs need to reevaluate how they define ROI. Sure, there is always investment, but instead of thinking of this investment solely as monetary, also consider the investment you can make in time, staff, creativity, participation, and other less tangible resources. In this economy "investment" could be replaced by innovation, inspiration, involvement, or interaction for a different and fresh form of ROI.
Social media is often accused of taking a "touchy feely" approach to advertising, marketing and brand management. In a sense this is true. The ways of measuring ROI in a social media campaign are much more indirect than a cost based traditional model. In part this is because the cost of social media to grow your company is relatively low and consists mainly of intangible things like proper use of your time.
If the company is large enough, it may entail the cost of hiring someone to manage your social media efforts. If the company is a small to medium business or an entrepreneur or sole proprietor, most will find that after an initial training session with a good social media guide they can use existing staff to manage social media campaigns. This is a huge cost saver that can be carried over into a reduction in traditional advertising expenses as well.
One of the most tangible ways to measure ROI is site analytics. If you have a site that is starting a social media campaign, make sure to get a good analytics program installed, like Google Analytics. As you start each campaign, make sure to associate it with tags and key words you can track in your analytics program.
You can do the same for on-site CPM advertising, like the ever popular Google Adsense. By associating each ad block with key words and campaigns, it makes it easier to measure where the money and visitors are coming in from. Coupled with a great stats program like Mint or similar, there is no reason you can't develop your own in-house ROI study as you embark on your first social media campaign.
One of the many ways to enhance your ROI from social media campaigns is to consider transparency. Since it is very hard to hide behind an image these days (go ahead and Google your company name plus the word "sucks"or"stinks" or other negative connotations and see if anything comes back), the more transparent a company and its top level staff can be without giving away company secrets, the better.
A fantastic example of transparency helping a company's numbers is that of BuzzAgent. They were so invested in the idea of changing how they approached their brand they did a 90 day experiment that showed measurable gains (and other interesting data) through openness and interaction.
If you aren't sold on the idea of fully embracing social advertising, consider the intangible benefits of a brand campaign as well, including how social media can save you money indirectly. By becoming more involved with your brand and embracing both the negative and the positive (realize you no longer control the conversation about your company) you can stop problems before they start.
By giving your customers access to you through social media and using it to channel everything from customer support to sales and hiring, you will find that you are gaining income and stopping some tradition areas of corporate monetary hemorrhaging. All without spending vast amounts of extra money on ads no one stops to watch, listen to or read anyway outside of Superbowl Sunday.
I'd say that's pretty good indirect ROI, wouldn't you?
by Leslie Poston
100 NE 3rd Avenue, Suite 200
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Phone (O): 646.536.7331
Phone (M): 480.861.2425