Picture a social media oracle. After many days’ journeys, perhaps through a foreboding mountain pass, deep in a jungle or out on a remote island, social managers willing to undertake the quest could get authoritative answers to pressing questions.
There is a social media oracle, but she prefers the amenities of the city. In fact, this social soothsayer spends her days in Falcon.io’s offices, dispensing wise words to those who know who to ask. We just call her Caitlin. Caitlin is here and she’s ready to tackle your biggest social media conundrums with tips and tricks. For this installment, our questions focus on social media goals and ROI.
Do you have a social media quandary? Tweet us your questions!
I’m the social media manager for a new women’s clothing company. We’re in the process of setting up our social media channels. My boss asked me to make her a proposal outlining how much money should be allocated for social advertising by channel. I’m pretty overwhelmed! I’m not sure where to even start. Can you please help?
Don’t Know What To Do in Kalamazoo
Dear Mr. To Do,
Your boss is putting the cart before the horse. Before you can get to budgeting, you need to determine your social media goals. Those goals will come in large part from the needs and goals of the rest of your company. Any strategy that comes pre-packaged with no input from stakeholders isn’t worth the pixels it’s temporarily displayed on.
Start with how your company conducts its business. Does your clothing brand sell through stores, or do you have a direct-to-consumer model? Facebook is better than Instagram for clicking through to sales offers on your website, but Instagram is where fashion influencers look for the next big thing. Which could be you, if you can make an impression.
Let’s assume you sell on your website. Analytics packages and ad platforms make it easy to know how much you paid for each click, email list add and sale. Only by speaking to other people at your company do you know what acquisition cost is sustainable.
Next up, experiment. Each social platform has a different demographic profile, and content can be targeted within each platform. Your marketing department should tell you something about your target audience, but by experimenting between and within channels can you determine where money is most effectively spent. With acquisition cost and a little experimental data in hand, you can build a budget that helps accomplish company goals at an acceptable cost.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money or have a big team to have a successful social media presence. There are many social media resources available. Also, try to get a line in the budget for a really comfy chair. If you can. All the best social media decisions are made with the help of proper lumbar support.
My boss comes from a traditional advertising background. He can be kind of set in his ways and wants me to prove the value of social media. While this seems like a rudimentary question, I got flustered when he asked me to spell it out for him. Can you give me some pointers to prove my case?
Quantified in Queens
It’s understandable that you felt flustered, in fact, in a recent CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Survey of 289 US marketing executives, just 11.5% of marketers have been able to prove the impact of social media on their business quantitatively.
First off, you can tell your boss that apart from the methods, there isn’t much of a difference between traditional and social media advertising. Like a 30-second spot on prime time TV or a billboard on the side of the highway, it’s just getting a message in front of people wherever they are.
After you have that polite conversation, the next step is to get a complete view of your company’s investment in social. So, to put it in movie quotes your fossil of a boss will remember, make like Woodward and Bernstein in All the President’s Men and “follow the money.”
To start, gather as much financial information you can. How much money went towards ad spend, content creation and to the salaries of dedicated social employees last year? It can be tricky when including salaries because often times in small companies, employees wear multiple hats and work with more than one department. Do your best.
Just as the contributions of employees can be spread across departments, there isn’t always clear the path a prospect took to become a customer, especially for B2B companies. If a customer consumes content or sees an ad that compels her to request a demo from a member of the sales team, who gets credit for the sale? I recommend checking out our How to Understand Social ROI Handbook. I might be a bit biased, but there isn’t a quick answer for proving social ROI. The handbook provides an in-depth overview of every factor that contributes to social ROI.
Also, there are more benefits to social media than just attracting leads. Do you use social for customer service? How about for recruiting new employees? You’ve got some number crunching ahead of you. The more information you can gather, the more your contributions will be evident.
I manage a four person social media team for a chain of grocery stores. While we saw follower growth on our channels, we didn’t reach all the goals we set last year. I’m not sure if we set goals that were too high or if we’re doing something wrong. I’d appreciate your advice.
Off the Mark in Bismarck
Time for a cleanup in aisle four! Clean up your act with a social media audit. You know you didn’t reach your goals, so now it’s time to figure out exactly why. A properly-performed audit provides a holistic view of your social performance and plan how to develop and improve it for the future.
An audit will help you pinpoint areas where you can improve. Approvals can be streamlined to save time for more productive activities. Resources can be directed toward the channels with the highest ROI. Customer service response times can be improved. Whatever is in your way should be uncovered by a top-to-bottom review of what you produce online to sell your produce in-store.
It’s a good idea to talk to other departments to share your findings and get their feedback. You may be experiencing similar issues across the company. You may even discover that your goals are not serving the needs of everyone within the enterprise. Don’t call it a “failure,” just a chance to put some bad practices back on the shelf and head right to the express lane.