For many, social media remains a curious space. There’s clearly a lot of excitement and energy happening online, but it isn’t always immediately clear how to best channel it to benefit your company and customers. As this is a regular question that comes up in our conversation with businesses (of all shapes and sizes) I wanted to take a minute to outline 7 simple, relatively painless ways you can improve your social media return on investment. Give these tips a shot and let us know your favorite social media best practices. We’re always looking for other good ideas to share on this blog. 😉
Know what your audience wants and give it to them
This is easier said then done, but the principle is sound. When you set up a branded presence in social media – whether on the big names like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or on the variety of growth social properties like Foursquare, Slideshare and Reddit – you’re making a promise to your customers. That is, you’re telling them that if they’re willing to give you their time and attention you’ll deliver interesting, relevant, informative and (preferably) entertaining content in return. If you’re extra smart, that content will primarily be original and come direct from your organization as to demonstrate the value your company provides to customers.
So how do you nail down what your audience wants?
- You live and breathe your business so you innately understand the pains, interests and wants of your customer. I’m sure if you spend 30 minutes each week with your team you’ll have a great list of content ideas.
- Look at your competitors. In aggregate, if they’re investing time in creating and sharing certain types of content then its very likely generating a return. That’s not to say you should copy what they’re doing, but competitors’ efforts may spark some interesting ideas.
- Watch your analytics, especially if you have a “search” function on your website. Customers often times will come right out and show you what they’re interested in with their actions and search terms.
- Use Google Insights. This nifty, free tool provides you with a trend analysis of search terms. Want to get some quick, relevant traffic? Find a trending search term and build valuable content around it.
Monitoring the social media conversation can give you a huge amount of insight; not only into what your customers are already saying about your brand (and competitors), but may even lead to direct new business opportunities. There are a wide range of free and paid tools available in the marketplace that can make monitoring easier. Some of our favorites are:
Research shows that customers widely expect rapid response to complaints made public through social media. Furthermore, research demonstrates that a contact is 10 times more likely to become a qualified lead if they are contacted within the first hour of inquiry.
The modern marketplace demands rapid response to inquires and customer service issues. Social media is an amazing tool to not only do so quickly, but in a way that is proactive. If you have your social media monitoring and management processes set up correctly you can turn many complaints and/or open questions into opportunities to win new business and retain customers.
Don’t silo your social media efforts
By far, one of the simplest ways to quickly grow your social media presence is to integrate it with the rest of your marketing communications efforts. Showcase your social profiles on your website, include links in your emails, invite customers to join in your advertisements and incentivize your audience to share your messaging with their friends.
As an earned media channel a well-run social media presence supports your ongoing and extends your existing marketing activities. Unless you’re testing social media in a very limited way there’s no reason to segregate it from the rest of the marketing mix.
Involve Your Audience
I’m a huge fan of User Generated Content. Whether invited through guest blog posts, contests or simple engaged discussion on industry relevant topics, users can provide a wealth of content that adds value to your social media presence and helps to remove the burden of needing to create all of your content in-house. Now, approach UGC carefully as you can’t be 100% sure what users will submit. However with a clear rules of content and a proactive monitoring strategy UGC can be an extremely valuable way to expand your social media presence.
Measure, track and connect social media to the bottom line.
As a for-profit business there is really only one question that matters: how are your activities impacting the bottom line. Social media is no different. Unless you can show how social media is helping to increase revenues or lower costs then it will be a short-lived experiment for your organization.
There are many free and paid social media measurement tools, tips and tricks available out there. We could write an entire ebook on the subject (don’t worry, we’re already working on it), but for the time being I suggest you check out the following links for more information:
Showcase your personality
All good marketing showcases your brand voice. Social media is no different. In fact, I would argue from our experience in working with our clients that having a personal, transparent and human voice to your brand in social media is even more important than elsewhere. Many users expect there to be a real person behind that Twitter or Facebook profile, and there’s nothing wrong in giving that to them while staying within your brand’s guidelines. Doing so will not only facilitate wider dialogue with users but will also help to build substantial long-term ROI.
What are your tips + tricks?
What have you been doing to boost your social media ROI? Tell us in the comment section below and we’ll add your best tips to this blog post (with proper attribution, of course).