Social Media is everywhere, and everyone and their neighbor has something to say about it. Here's all you need to know: you and your business need to be a part of it. It generates exposure for you and your business. The more people who know about you, the better your chances of generating revenue.
It's no longer a question of "if" your business will have a presence on social media but "when" and "how." However, while many small business owners may be actively participating on social media networks, if someone were to ask them "why" or "how" they are using it to bring in new customers, many do not even have a clue.
Today, companies must create conversations with customers and deliver useful content at the exact moment that their prospects need it. Marketers can no longer push products on people. Rather, they have to put themselves on the same playing field as their prospects by creating a dialogue with their audience in order to earn a prospect’s trust.
Social media is a great tool for sales prospecting. Using social media networks like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook allows you to expose your business to thousands of other possible connections through the friends and/or followers of the person you engage – all by just engaging with one potential customer. This could range from hundreds to thousands of people.
Free social networking applications can be used for staying on top of what others are saying about your company, for market research and also for keeping an eye and ear on what your competitors are doing.
However, many companies are still having a hard time understanding just how their social media platform is going to generate more ROI.
The bottom line is that it's been proven that social media works. Although not easily seen on the surface, there are ways to determine just how effective your social media campaign is. You just need to do some math to figure it out.
Social media marketing often provides instant feedback and measurable results so businesses can immediately see which marketing strategies are working for them and which ones are not.
1: You need to calculate the ROI of your social media efforts.
If you’re going to calculate the ROI of your social media campaign, you’re going to have to know math. Social media is not just about bragging about how many Twitter followers you have. There's a lot more to it, and the time will have to be allocated for it, but the valuable information you come away with will be worth it.
The future of social media is about math, metrics and monetization.
Start by always remembering that the most important value proposition and monetization opportunities that social media provides is to reach prospects and customers where they are and in the way they want to be reached.
The problem is that most companies aren’t doing an effective job of measuring the value of their social media campaigns. In fact, about half of the customers we surveyed weren't able to report whether their campaigns were working or not.
If you’re one of the people who isn’t measuring your social media campaigns on an ROI basis, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
In keeping with the context of the sales funnel, the key areas to evaluate and to measure brand awareness fall into three categories: social media exposure, influence and engagement.
2: You need to measure your social media exposure – How many people could you have reached with your message?
Social media is about creating repeat customers, not acquiring first-time customers.
Consequently, your ROI analysis needs to focus on social media’s ability to turn customers into fans. Potential social media ROI calculations include:
- Measuring revenue generated from customers whom you have engaged with in social media.
- The longevity of the value. This measures the frequency of sales and what the totals were before and after your social media program was put forth. You need to set a baseline before initiating your campaign so that you have something to measure it against. Take note of how many customers left you and then make a note of how much that number went down after using social media.
- Operations: How much have your inbound customer service calls gone down since you started social media?
3: You need to measure "engagement," or how many people actually did something with your message or your information.
This measurement is very important because it shows how many people actually felt enough "value" that it resulted in their engaging in some kind of action.
4: Measuring the influence that you are having online. In other words, you want to look at whether the engagement metrics listed above are positive, neutral or negative in sentiment. What is the feeling that people are left with after engaging with you through social media?
The last part of the lead generation funnel is no longer about brand awareness, but rather, it's where the ROI-driven action comes into play.
Brand awareness in your funnel is made up of all of the above: awareness, influence and engagement, and it is in your understanding of each of your social media platforms that will let you interpret your web presence and impact.
Build a Dashboard. Having all of the above information means nothing if you do not "come away from it" with meaningful information.
The information here was to let you know just how much information can be gathered from social media and that it's not just about putting random information out there. There is a science behind it and although it may take a little time to get used to and understand it, the value is there and every business should be putting together its strategy for getting on board. Help is also available, so if you find yourself needing that "support," just ask. Whatever you do, get involved in social media. Because once you use it, you'll wonder what you ever did without it.
Marco Giunta is a Senior Business Development Executive and the author of the book: Rethinking Sales.
He is a leading expert in Global Outsourcing with a focus on banking, financial services and other Industry sectors and has a long list of clients. Mr. Giunta is a speaker and presenter. He has led start-ups, business strategy groups, technology think tanks and has experience as a career coach. Visit Marco’s website at marcogiunta.com.
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- Keys to Building and Maintaining Long-Lasting Business Relationships - February 21, 2012