Seattle Wine Gal had an excellent blog post this week about measuring the ROI of Social Media. She wrote it primarily for wineries but the message applies to all businesses, not just those in the wine industry. When I read it, I thought: “Wow! I should totally write about that for our industry.” And, then, when I started a rough draft, I realized that Barbara had already said it and there was no need to reinvent the wheel. She graciously agreed to let me re-publish her post (thanks, B!). Are you on the fence about ‘social media’ (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn and more)? Or are you tweeting away, wondering what good it does? Then this post is for you.
- Social Media are an extension of customer service and relations. The extension of customer service and relations via social media efforts is measurable by how many clients and potential clients are reached by social media efforts. This is measured by how many people decide to ‘commit’ to supporting you by following/’friending’ you, which is a public declaration of their support. This measurement comes in the form of numbers of followers/fans/blog readers. With steps taken carefully to ensure quality over quantity of followers, you can assume that the number is an accurate depiction of how many people you are extending customer service and relations i.e. how many people you are allowing easy access to you and your company (to ask questions, hear company news first etc).
- Social Media establishes trust. “Trust” is a bit tricky to measure, but it is possible, and very closely linked to ‘increased reputation and word of mouth’. You cannot manufacture trust and reputation it primarily comes from what has already been said and done rather than what we are going to do, i.e. the benefit of this aspect of social media takes some time to develop. Eventually “trust” and general appreciation will be evident by the increase in number of times followers/fans mention your company or product independent of your prompts. The more effort put into social media, the larger the number of unprompted mentions. This is something that can be easily missed, but a daily perusal of fan tweets, and social network mentions of your company/ products is a good indicator of customer trust and appreciation. Basically, the numbers of times that people are advertising for you, and independent of your suggestion to do so. For example: re-tweets, message board mentions, facebook conversations with friends. Providing information and the service of being accessible to clientele is what actually establishes you as a trustworthy source, and this goes well beyond what one can measure in hard numbers. This aspect of trust will be evident in good customer feedback both face to face, as well as on the web.
- Social Media increases your reputation and increases word of mouth and recognition. It is very easy to measure an increase in word of mouth on the web. An increase in ‘Google Alerts’ mentions (Google Alerts is a list of web mentions and the source of mention of you, your business, and/or product on the internet, which is emailed to you). Also number of post and/or youtube views and comments, mentions on others blogrolls, and weblinks. ‘@ mentions’ and ‘Re-Tweets’ on Twitter are another great way of measuring word of mouth. It is also important to recognize who the people are that are promoting you via word of mouth, what are their credentials and credibility, are they recognized in a community that applies to your business, or are they mentioning you to a small circle of immediate friends (both are essentially good). Are the followers of those who comment on you commenting on this author/you in their own social media circles?
- Social Media efforts lead to an increase in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). One of the basic tenants of SEO is that the more ‘key words’ or direct mentions of you/product/company that exists on the web, the closer to the top of peoples general web searches you become. In your social media efforts, if you consistently write about a given topic or theme, or your product name in general, these keywords will add up and create an increase in search engine optimization.
- Social Media, when done properly, increases sales. An increase in sales as a result of social media can be measured to some extent by allowing customers to answer (whether checking out of an online store or in person) the question, “where did you hear about us”? More specifically, customers can be polled about what specific platform they learned about you from (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, message boards, blog mentions etc.). Google analytics is a good way to track this answer, if asked upon check out at your online store. Another way of tracking increased sales due to social media is to give coupon codes or exclusive deals for your fans and followers.