A popular phrase in marketing is “Return On Investment” or ROI. Executives always want to know the ROI of the marketing tactics used by their staff and sometimes this is easy to determine. Where it gets murky is when it comes to social media. There isn’t a way to monitor social media impact at present because social media is not meant to be a marketing or sales channel. Social media is the opportunity to build relationships with present and future customers, build your brand and create a positive reputation. Most of the affects of this can’t be quantified.
In my opinion the best practices in social media include:
1. Build relationships. Tweeting a couple of times a week or posting to your Facebook profile or Fan Page once in a while isn’t going to build relationships. You need to monitor your accounts for visitor response at least twice a week if you’re just starting out and more often when you become more experienced. Answer questions, “like” responses and thank people for commenting. If you have the time check out the profile of your most vocal fans and follow them as well.
2. Don’t start a flame war. Build your reputation by responding positively and constructively to criticism. Show enthusiasm for suggestions even if they aren’t spot on. Move potentially destructive conversations off social media and on to e-mail or telephone. Do feel free to remove comments that are spammy or inappropriate and report people who continuously spam you. Building your reputation doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat and you have the right to protect your brand.
3. Monitor conversations about you or your company. People may be talking about you in a positive or negative manner on their own social media accounts so it’s important that you search for mentions of your company or management staff names and respond appropriately. You can setup Google Alerts to monitor some of this but you must also manually search social media sites proactively. You’ll be surprised at what you learn and much of it will be positive.
4. Use social media to promote but not sell. No one wants to follow someone on Twitter just to hear over and over again “Buy my book. Buy my book. Buy my book.” It is permissible, however, to mention a product discreetly. If you have a book, for example, and you provide an excerpt you certainly may link to the page where more information about the book is available. Just be discreet and only do this infrequently or you may find yourself talking to yourself.
If your boss asks you for the ROI for the time you spend on social media tell him or her that you are building relationships and no one can put a price on that!