The net is a noisy place, with unlimited numbers of conversations happening every moment. People are talking about each other, casually, about business, about requirements, about connecting… but that’s not the end.
What is interesting is, that is the new social structure. To be seen, to be heard and to be taken seriously, every business needs a social media presence – a Big Bang presence that makes heads turn, that helps raise a voice in the din.
But mere conversations or people talking about you cannot mean business of marketing, right? There have to be strategies, plans and of course, tools and technologies to use this medium to its full capability. Once business engagements move online, the whole engagement process becomes a better experience with much further reaching effects for both customers and partners, as well as all other stakeholders, like employees. This platform’s easy adaptability has got new applications buzzing around it, giving it a key role in business strategy today.
The only issue is, how is its effectiveness measured? How do you know when investments in social media are actually paying off? The impact of a social media strategy depends on four key factors:
- The internal collaboration structure around it (employee engagement, efficient and relevant knowledge management)
- The sales structure and how your organisation responds to it – lead management and how the analytics work
- Services and support offered – the technology behind the connection, and
- Customer support models- which are about how you plan to retain customers, how much are you willing to learn about them and how much you value their time in terms of response time from you?
To map the social media applications to their ROI, you need to find the connection between your business priorities and these factors – what works. A relevant and effective content strategy then needs to be built around it. But what exactly is ‘relevant’?
In this case, content that aligns with the business goals is the most relevant. So the obvious way to get the impact from your social media strategy is to define your goals and then align the activity along them. So, what are you looking at? To get the best of your sales and marketing strategy, by using social media as a tool? Or impart greater satisfaction to customers, also gaining market intelligence in the process? Or maybe make the time to market period more fruitful, if not shorter, thus adding to brand recognition and even bottom-lines eventually? Or is the goal just to keep your brand visible to the market out there? Once you are clear in what exactly is needed, it is easy to set a strategy in place, and also measure the effectiveness in very clear terms. With visible goals, it is easy to identify KPIs and even quantify them. Some of the indicators that will tell you if your social media strategy is working are obvious – an increase in online traffic – followers and fans, download responses through email marketing campaigns, and of course, increase in the number of online mentions. And you really know it is working when these activities indicate increased sales, reduced customer service enquiries and suddenly you are also saving costs. Values attached to the goals and aligning them with these KPIs can clearly indicate the ROI for your social media initiative.
Social media is a vast and effective strategy, especially given the spread of the online world. What is required to make use of its advantages is a strong metrics for ROI coupled with a clear governance process.