The Value of Social Media

social-media-roi

Despite the popularity of social media worldwide, many businesses still wonder about its value from a brand standpoint.

Why should my company invest in social media? What’s the return on investment (ROI) for social media?

As a social media marketer, these are question I face all the time. The truth is like any form of advertising, social media is a unique platform. But that doesn’t mean you can’t measure successes and failures (but let’s focus on the positives here!).

One-Size-Does-NOT-Fit-AllIt’s Not One Size Fits All

Understanding the value of social media is a challenge. It’s not one size fits all for businesses and marketing strategies. Especially if your company only focuses on the financial aspects of investment and return. What companies need to focus on is the non-monetary economic value. This doesn’t mean finances shouldn’t be a factor, it just means it shouldn’t be the focus. By non-monetary economic value, I’m referring to value that can travel throughout the social media world. Companies aren’t just having conversations with one customer, on social media they are having conversations with that customer and everyone connected to their social networks, as well.

Before launching a social media marketing initiative your business should have a specific goal. By “specific” I mean not just a generic business goal, something that is unique to your brand. Once you’ve developed that goal, social media can help:

  • Increase brand exposure
  • Increase traffic to your website or a physical location
  • Develop brand advocates (I’ll talk more about these a little later)
  • Improve organic search traffic
  • Create new business partnerships
  • Reduce marketing expenses (What employer doesn’t love this!)
  • Increase sales

Relationships Build ROI

It’s important to remember, in today’s “social” world, your business should be forming  “R.E.A.L.” relationships: Reciprocal, Empathetic, Authentic, and Long-Lasting. Brands should realize experiences over social media aren’t happening with the network, but with the public at large. This can create both positive and negative conversations, but hopefully will lead to countless purchasing decisions in the future (Remember, we’re focusing on the positive here!). It also gives you the platform to right those negative conversations. Your goal on social media should always include “doing right by the consumer.”

When building relationships it’s important to start with your loyal customers. These advocates or influencers can help broaden your marketing reach. This group of customers probably won’t have a problem getting the word out about an initiative and new customers may respond to “people like them” passing along a message, rather than a business. With 52% of U.S. consumers using the Internet as their primary purchasing tool, it’s an area brands can’t afford to ignore.  By actively engaging with consumers via social media, you will keep your brand relevant.

Fundraising

A great way to build brand awareness and ultimately drive ROI is to get involved with fundraising. But remember…

“Social Media platforms aren’t necessarily fundraising engines, it’s the people using them that are.”

People love a good cause and they love hearing from individuals who benefit from a fundraiser. They do not want a brand pushing a cause on them. Social media allows your business to support a cause, but not necessarily push it on people.

When it comes to a fundraising effort, tell the story–either yourself or through someone else. This can be done with a video (we know people love visuals on social media) uploaded to YouTube or shorter platforms like Vine and Instagram. If people can see who or what their donation will be helping, they’ll probably be more inclined to give.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.56.01 PMAlways include a call to action, but be specific. It’s also important to use active language (Click, Share, Donate Now). People are more apt to take action right away, rather than come back and do it later. Along the same lines, make it easy for people to take action. No one wants to fill out a long form. Fortunately there are platforms, such as Givver.com, Fundly.com, or Snowball.com can help your business’ fundraising efforts reach a higher level.

Once an initiative is underway, always make sure to thank donors, partners, and volunteers. This again goes back to showcasing real relationships. Publicly celebrate success, but remember to be authentic. Maybe you’re not the one thanking donors, but the child who received tuition to school or the disabled mom who received a new mini-van, etc, can post a video testimonial about how the donations helped them.

A personal example I can share right now is this month in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, my organization recently partnered with Member One Federal Credit Union to raise money for our Breast Care Center. Both businesses promoted the sale of “pink hoodies” on our social media sites multiple ways, including links to purchase the hoodies, pictures of employees wearing the hoodies, and promoting sales at community events. So far, it’s been a success and we hope to utilize more of these partnerships in the future to raise awareness for causes that support our mission: Inspiring better health in the communities we serve.

Bottom Line

Social media give companies opportunities for growth, if used for more than mass marketing agendas. By allowing brands to connect on more personal levels, businesses can begin measuring ROI in no time.

Questions:

Have you ever been part of a social media fundraising effort? Share your experience and if it was a success.

What do you think is the most important aspect of social media value?

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6 thoughts on “The Value of Social Media

  1. I completely agree with the fundraising comments…personality still drives social media success… people want to feel like you are engaged in the conversation!

  2. That’s a great quote on social media and fundraising being more about the people behind the accounts than the platform itself. Social media can’t do the fundraising on its own, but a person can make excellent use of social media to help in their fundraising goals.

    • Thanks Casey. You’re right it is all about making an individual connection. With anything involving social media, focusing on human relationships will help any marketing campaign or fundraising effort.

  3. I have not been involved in a social media fundraising campaign, so I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. I definitely see the benefits to using social media to support fundraising.

    For my organization, the most valuable aspect of social media is engagement. We value conversation and interaction with our followers, really trying to foster a strong community.

    • Thanks Lisa! Social media helps build relationships and ultimately strengthen communities. That’s what my organization focuses on as well. It’s a great resource to connect with people you may not have the opportunity to otherwise.

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