By Caitlin Brennan

July 10th, 2017

Every New Years’ Eve, New York City’s Times Square is filled with people. Shivering, uncomfortable people voluntarily pen themselves in an intersection in the dead of winter because it’s something they “have to do at least once.” Many brands similarly feel that making a presence on every major social media channel is something they “have to do.”

That attitude results in a poor return on investment and a lot of uninspiring content. According to a survey conducted by Mantra of over 4,700 US small business owners, only 24% saw positive ROI from Facebook. These startling findings indicate there is a disconnect. We’re delving into the reasons for the gap and offering solutions. This is how you justify social spend and turn an annoyance into a profit center.

Make a game plan and set goals:
ROI means something, and not just “king” in French. Before you can define what ROI from Facebook means for you, first understand your social media goals and objectives. What are you trying to achieve and what effect do you expect this to have on your business?

The top goals for small business owners in the Mantra study were, awareness, new customers, phone calls from new customers, website traffic and retention. Others may include burnishing expert credentials or improving brand image.

Once you set goals, you need to determine how you will evaluate your campaigns so that you can prove ROI from Facebook. You can measure your goals by determining your Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. For example, if you want to generate business leads, use your analytics to track the sources of inbound traffic to the “contact us for more information” page on your website. Much of this data is already being tracked and organized with standard software like Google Analytics. These KPIs will also help demonstrate how marketing contributes to the entire company’s results.

ROI from Facebook

Once you have a handle on what you want to achieve and how to measure success, it’s time to plot out how you’re going to achieve your goals. Staying organized is paramount for managing a multi-brand content strategy. The easiest way to get a holistic and clear view of your campaigns is with a content calendar. Falcon’s content calendar enables multiple teams to work together with ease.

By making the social content distribution visible and orderly, marketing and collaborator departments can eliminate a lot of the labor and confusion created by content chaos.

Roi from Facebook

Falcon’s content calendar.

It’s about time:
The Mantra survey also indicated that 58% of small business owners put less than an hour a week into Facebook marketing. Today, social media marketing and marketing are synonymous. Social media can’t be an afterthought. As of March 2017, almost two billion people are monthly active Facebook users. Chances are most of your prospective customers are among those billions of people.

The Mantra survey also found that 58% of those surveyed only post on Facebook a few times a month. One half-thought-out post every now and then is easy, but you might as well save yourself a few minutes and do nothing at all. If you only post sporadically it’s likely potential customers won’t even see your posts.

Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes stories that are relevant to a user. According to Facebook, “it simply boils down to generating good content which people will engage with.” If you aren’t putting in time getting to know your audience and the kind of content that resonates with them – in enough quantity – your efforts are likely getting lost in the void of competition.

Not connecting with your audience:
A survey of over 2,600 small business owners conducted by do-it-yourself website builder Weebly revealed that 62% of participants stated their Facebook ads missed their intended targets. So, how can you get to know your audience? Social listening is the key.

By using social listening, you can use the terabytes of social data coursing through the Internet to pull out specific users and follow them to get a better picture of their activities and interests. Hone in on those individuals who have shown an interest in your brand and products. Use a social listening tool to monitor updates and sentiment noting that what customers mean can be as important as what they are saying.

You can use social listening observations to segment prospects based on their interests, rather than typical demographic data such as age, location, or job title. Tapping into people’s interests will be of far greater interest than simply sending “best guess” messages based on who you think wants what you’re selling.

Once you know who you’re trying to reach, you can work on the type of content that will resonate with each segment. You may find overlap between various segments of your audience. It’s fine to deliver content from multiple brands to one prospect if you think there will be interest.

Listening also allows for better personalization of ad content. According to research by Adlucent, 71% of consumers prefer personalized ads. Whether you rely on organic and paid advertising, the degree to which you can personalize your social media posting will set your brand apart. That means using concrete data about your target audience to frame great content.

You gotta spend money to make money:
Going back to the Weebly survey of small business owners, 82% have spent less than $50 on a Facebook ad campaign and more than half didn’t buy Facebook ads at all. Only a fraction of followers will see your regular posts. With paid advertising, you have the ability to target the people that are the most likely to be interested in your brand.

At first, it can be daunting to spend money on ads. The good news is that you can experiment with the types of posts that resonate with your audience before spending any money. Review the engagement of your current social postings. If you have a post that’s generating organic engagement, consider turning this post into a paid ad. All ads on Facebook are basically posts that are configured for paid distribution.

To pick the right posts, establish engagement benchmarks. This will save time when determining if a post is worth paid promotion. Bear in mind though that benchmarks aren’t one size fits all. To determine an engagement benchmark for your company, consider your number of followers, industry engagement rates and competitors. Put values on clicks and conversions that you can compare to advertising rates.

Don’t fear Facebook:
For brands starting with little to no social media strategy, additional effort has escalating rates of return. Justifying time spent on social media may be near impossible for minimal efforts but simple with a more active presence. Start with setting goals and planning a content strategy. Once you know what you want to achieve, get to know your audience. The better you know your audience, the more targeted and cost effective your ads will be. Then get KPIs in place to show that those ads work and, eventually, getting a bigger social media budget will be a no-brainer.

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