This week for our She Said, He Said posts we decided to tackle social media return on investment (ROI). I lead off today with my take and Shelby will follow up tomorrow. As usual tomorrow’s post will include topics for this week’s #shehechat over on Twitter at 8 p.m. CST each Thursday evening.
Yes, you do need to justify your business-related social media activities by determining an ROI. However, this is the end of the road; not the beginning. First, you need to jump in and learn social media. Only then will you know which channels are right for your business and how to utilize them.
Arm yourself with knowledge
You need to read some blogs and pick up a book or two about social media. While this is a good start, at some point you need to just jump into the social media space. Create accounts on some of the big networks like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+. See what the conversations look like there. Start to jump into the conversations and get a feel for how the flow really goes.
You’ll begin to see that some of the networks feel more business-like to you and others will seem more personal. Some will even feel like a hybrid of business and personal. I joined Twitter back in April of 2008 to follow our hosting provider’s downtime status messages. Over the next six months, I began to actually use and like the service. Twitter has always been a mix of business and fun for me.
When is the right time to look for ROI?
There is no exact answer to this question. If you hire a social media consultant, he or she can help you find the answer to this question. For me, it was a matter of taking time to see what the potential was for the networks. I watched what others were doing. I utilized the networks to increase traffic to my trade show booths. I landed a few customers through social media. I run a small business and I had a basic sense it was working, so I’ve never taken the time to do the math at a detailed level.
I do know that when I compare the sales month-to-month between last year and this year, it’s improved. The only significant change I made was bringing Shelby Sapusek on board to manage our marketing campaigns which included social media management. Does that mean all social media is wonderful and fantastic? No. As a matter of fact, we are thinking about abandoning our company Facebook page for now. It just hasn’t worked out well for us on any level. We are considering moving those resources and efforts over to a Linkedin company page. If that works, we’ll stick with it. If not, we’ll move on from that as well.
Social media is not one size fits all
Something to keep in mind is just because a company Facebook page didn’t work for us does not mean it won’t work for you. You need to get a feel for the potential of each social media network. You can do that yourself or you can hire a social media consultant to help you. Either way, you need to stay involved because a consultant usually won’t know your business or marketplace as well as you do. As a matter of fact, Shelby insisted I stay involved in the social media efforts of ColorMetrix. She manages the day-to-day interaction online, but we work out the long-term strategies together.
Remember to check back tomorrow for Shelby’s take on social media ROI.