Is social media right for small businesses and will I get ROI?
This is a good question and, to be honest, one that is even debated within the online marketing and Social Media optimisation industry.
At SAScon 2015, The Search, Analytics and Social conference, this exact question was on the table for debate.
It’s incredibly difficult to prove ROI on social media, to start to look at this you must first think about something called ‘Attribution Modelling’, this is where you analyse and assign credit to the acquiring of a sale or enquiry. In online terms, this can be from a number of places, for example, your website, organic search, social media and many more. It’s more than likely that an enquiry or sale would have landed on more than one of these platforms before eventually making the decision to call or enquire. The next question is, where do you assign the credit, is it to the first landing point? The last? Or do you assign all with equal credit?
This is another whole, rather long, blog post in itself, but the point is, Attribution Modelling depends on your viewpoint, your industry and a host of other considerations. And the ultimate question is, if you were to remove any one of these landing points, would the person have made that enquiry? No one really knows the answer to this but the enquirer themselves, and deep down, they probably don’t really know.
If it’s incredibly difficult to prove ROI, why bother? Well, Social media is an incredibly valuable tool for any business, but it needs to be clear what it will do, and what it will not do. At the start of any Social media campaign you must assess what you want it to achieve, and what it is realistically going to achieve for your business and sector.
Back in the day, before social media, companies would spend massive amounts of their annual budgets on market research, trying to find out what their customers, and potential customer, really thought. Now, we have social media, phenomenal platforms that gives you direct access to your target audience.
The obvious advantage would be brand exposure. Social media is one of the few internet marketing techniques where you can actively seek and engage with your target audience.
I have heard many people claim they are not on social media, that fact is, you are on social media. People are going to be using social media, and talking about you and your brand, whether you are there or not. It’s far better to be part of the conversation, acknowledge good points when it’s good, and limit damage to your brand when it’s less than good. I have known many companies that have saved untold amounts of money in damages to their brand because of how well they have dealt with less than positive feedback on social media, and sometimes, dealing with it in a positive, creative way, can even do your brand credit.
Again, this is incredibly hard to quantify into monetary value but still vital to the survival of any brand or business.
Having said all the above, it is still possible to make sales through social media, but it’s important to recognise the sales are only a small part of what social media can do for your business. It also depends on your business sector and how well you interact with your following. Social media is especially effective for businesses that can emotionally engage people, get them excited and passionate in what they do. For example, charities, sports, clothing, perfume, alcohol. It is also very good for businesses that are very visual. I know of a make-up artist who does weddings, she gets most of her business from Facebook because she posts lots of pictures of her work.
The nutshell is, social media is here to stay, and at its current trend is only likely to play an even larger part in how businesses interact and position their brand.