Changing the conversation — A different way to look at the ROI of social media Article added by Amy McIlwain on August 11, 2014
Amy McIlwain

Amy McIlwain

Denver, CO

Joined: August 26, 2010

There is no doubt that figuring out your return on investment (ROI) is an important factor in determining where to put marketing dollars. If you’re not getting tangible, direct results immediately, why spend the money on it, right? Well, not really. As marketers struggle to wrap their heads around how and where social media plays a role in marketing efforts and budgets, there is a shift to start analyzing what really matters for long-term success: the value of the relationships acquired and maintained through social media.

See also: ROI and social media: 3 key strategies for financial advisors

Instead of trying to calculate the exact dollar amount acquired from each new client that you gained solely from social media compared to the dollar amount spent on social media assets (technology, staff, time), we suggest that you change the conversation. When it comes to social media and digital marketing, the measurement needs to encompass factors that are significantly broader than this.
    Example: The likelihood of having a client see you on Facebook, click a link to your website, and immediately become a paying client is pretty low. However, once they see that you are a leader and an expert in the industry (via content marketing) and your interaction with other clients on social interfaces, you begin to build an element of trust. This can then lead to a phone call or in-person meeting, which is likely to lead to a client acquisition.
This is exactly the type of relationship we are talking about.

So, what's the difference?

Comparison from
How do I begin to build great relationships?

Traditional marketing certainly has a space for gaining exposure in new places, but social media is crucial to the continuation of relationship building.
    Know your audience. With all the chaos and noise out there on social platforms today, it is more important than ever to truly know your audience and understand why they would want to follow a company on social media. Think, “What matters most to them?” Are they concerned about outliving their retirement income? Or paying for their kids’ college education? If you start from here, you will be able to provide valuable content and insight.

    Listen to what your audience is saying. Don’t just push out all kinds of content and forget to listen. Make sure you are responding when people have concerns, questions or would like more information. You can even take it one step further — when someone connects with you on LinkedIn, thank them for connecting and offer to answer any questions they might have in a phone consultation.

    Don’t oversell. No one wants to be bombarded with salesy posts every day when they are trying to catch up on Twitter. Use the 80/20 rule as a guide: 80 percent of the time, you should be providing valuable content and 20 percent of the time, you can talk about your firm and its products/services.
How do I measure the success of these relationships?

You’ve probably heard of tools that allow you to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) within social media platforms. Most of these KPIs are a great gauge of your marketing success: number of fans or followers, likes, retweets, shares, comments, site visits (and return site visits). These are not financial assets that can be directly factored into ROI, but they are still incredibly valuable!

When you take the time to let your audience know you care by listening, responding to what they say and providing thoughtful content, the value of the relationships you are building begins to become invaluable. Show authenticity toward your current and prospective clients and get to know them, and they will no longer be just fans and followers, but brand evangelists. Over time, you will see these relationships benefit your bottom line.

Relationships are the lifeblood of a good business — honor them, invest in them and start measuring your ROR (return on relationship). What relationship building tactics do you have in place and what value have you gained from it either personally or professionally?

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