The age old question – Is it worth it? This question gets asked of all marketing program, each quarter, each year. All companies do it – an annual budget plan. Everyone wants to know which activities have earned a positive return on their investment (ROI). Of course they do – you don’t want to continue throwing money into something that isn’t delivering results.
Social media is one of the newer additions to the marketing arsenal. And as such, the jury is still out on the overal ROI of social media activities. However, in a recent study conducted by MarketingSherpa (May 2010) perceptions of social media are trending positively when it comes to budget allocation.
Almost half of the respondents (mostly mid-large sized companies) viewed social media as a promising tactic and are planning to moderately increase budget allocation – good news! A full 7% can measure a positive ROI resulting in a significant increase in spending – great news! So when all is said and done, less than 1/3 are still questioning the value of social media – even better news for those of you looking for budget.
Normally, when there is a new technology or new approach to marketing, it takes the the money folks a long time to warm to the idea of actually spending money on something they believe is “unproven”. However in these economic times, when a little money spent on social media can go a long way, it appears that those same money folks have finally come to grips with the fact that this stuff does work. Especially now that we have some measurable results to report.
Like other marketing activities, social media will only be effective and deliver the required results, when part of an overall strategy. As I have often written in this blog, all good marketing starts with understanding your objectives. What do you want to accomplish with social media? What role does it play in your marketing mix? How will you measure that success? If you don’t have a target to shoot for – how do you know if you’ve hit the bulls-eye.
The next, and probably most important thing to understand, when investing in social media is your audience. What type of social media do they use? Where to they hang out? Who do they read? Who do they go to for recommendations? Armed with this information you can develop an effective social media strategy and target the appropriate platforms. You don’t want to put all your focus on LinkedIn, if you audience is really into FaceBook.
Now you are set up for success. You know what you want to accomplish, who you are targeting and which platforms are a god strategic fit. Now it’s time to engage and get going. social media is, well, inherently social. A good presence is defined (according to me) as active, timely and authentic. I can see that real people are behind the presence of the company – there is a name to go with the brand. I see posts, updates and information on a regular basis and it is relevant to what is going on in the industry, my business, and the world. Plus, what is coming through has a voice, tone and intention that “feels” real (not like the PR agency is writing all the Tweets, or posting on the FanPage).
With you newly found social media busget, make sure to take sometime and think about what you want to accomplish, and how you’re going to measure it so that come next years busdget cycle you are armed with an ROI that will earn you a budget increase – probably the best news of all.