Bravr Social Media Manager, Laura Hall, explores how you can gain an understanding of the true value of social media.

Social media is a hard sell – and that’s coming from someone who loves it.

Explaining the benefits of PPC is easy; you spend money, you get impressions and conversions. SEO has one clear indicator of success; better rankings in the SERPs. But what about social media? You might have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but what is the actual business benefit of cultivating that presence?

Businesses quite rightly want to engage in marketing activities that boost their bottom line. PPC=Sales; SEO=Sales; Social media does not equal sales, or at least not without adding some other aspects to the equation.

The problem lies in seeing social media as this separate entity. Social media isn’t a singular thing with a singular purpose. It can be used as a customer service channel, customer outreach platform, advertising platform SEO aid, content distribution channel, customer relationship management system, customer research tool, communications channel, and that’s to name just a few of its possible uses within an organisation.

Put simply, social media doesn’t provide a separate function all by itself. Rather, if used correctly, social media provides an infrastructure that will support and strengthen other activities that are core to business growth.

Measuring ROI, then, becomes less about measuring the value of social media and more about the value it brings to core activities.

So how do we do this?

1. Benchmark

The first step is to benchmark your current results.  Exactly what you benchmark will have a lot to do with how you plan on using social media, as well as your core business aims. However, it is worth casting a wide net. For instance have you considered how the added signpost of social media content could increase click through rates on your ad campaigns? Or the effect increased activity on social networks could have on your search rankings?

2. Create Points of light

Correlation does not equal causation so it is vital to create points of light via social media wherever you can. Make the most of Facebook apps and promotions that invite people to submit their email address, so you can compare them against your own customer data. Make use of Twitter’s lead generation cards and ensure to include a “where did you hear about us” question on any enquiry form.

3. Think efficiencies

Sales are not the only way to improve a bottom line. Social media can bring efficiency to operations that can result in considerable savings. Activities such as customer service can often be handled more efficiently via social media, with one person able to deal with numerous enquiries at once.  Review the time, the manpower and the cost of handling customer service enquiries pre and post social media.

4. Think customers

A negative review or comment on the Twitter, Facebook or YouTube Websites can lose companies as many as 30 customers (Source: Convergys). Furthermore, failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in the churn rate for existing customers. (Source: Gartner).

Social media allows you to influence customer satisfaction like no other tool. And happy customers lead to a better reputation, which helps boost sales.

But how do you quantify happiness? There are some brilliant sentiment monitoring tools available, but by far the simplest way to gauge customer satisfaction is to ask them. Survey your customer base and signpost and incentivize leaving feedback on your website.

To summarise, social media, when used effectively, can be invaluable to optimising your existing strategies. Social media doesn’t just give you great return on investment in itself; it boosts the ROI of your other tools too. Bravr’s in-depth knowledge of social media and our experience in making it work for our clients will help you to increase your profile, increase satisfaction and, ultimately, increase business. Do you still think social media is pointless?