Removing the Mystery From Your Impact on Social

Matt Black on March 4, 2016 • 5 minute read

Success on social is not one size fits all.

What works for others may not work for you (and vice versa).

That’s not to say you can’t find sources of inspiration… but it’s important to be intellectually honest with yourself and clear on what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

recent survey of CMOs revealed that almost half (47.9%) of marketers admitted they hadn’t been able to show the impact of social media on their businesses.

That 47.9% is startling, especially since the study also discovered that total spend on social is expected to jump to over 20% of overall marketing budgets within five years.

So how are we supposed to interpret this?

It’s not that social won’t impact your business and bottom line… because it can. But the reality is that the impact isn’t always easy to quantify. And while there are going to be times you may not be able to arrive at an ROI estimate, you can certainly understand and appreciate the implications of your social activity.

Here are a few tips that will help you do just that:

Define Your Goals

What does success look like for you?

Before you’re even able to worry about ROI on social, you’ve got to be laser-focused on what it is you’re trying to measure and how it relates to your business objectives. Being on Twitter or Facebook with a clear roadmap as to how each platform can impact specific metrics and functions of your business can yield terrific results.

Take DICK’S Sporting Goods for instance: in an effort to position themselves as a premium sporting goods retailer in the minds of varsity athletes, they decided to create an “always on” social media studio that could engage and drive conversation whenever and wherever it was happening.

DICK’S knew their target customers wanted to see nearly instantaneous, consistent responses and believed that to be an attainable goal.

The good news is that your goals don’t even have to be that lofty — and probably shouldn’t be at the beginning. You could strive to have each one of your tweets related to blog content get five retweets. Or you might try to gain 25 new followers each week and base your measure of success on how quickly you reach that number.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what others are measuring. It’s all about you and figuring out what’s important to your business.

Be Realistic

You’ve written the content, scheduled some strategic promotion on social, kept SEO in mind throughout the entire creative process… you’ve done all the right things.

But it’s just not realistic to expect 25k retweets or hundreds of thousands of likes right out of the gate.

For many marketers, that’s often the hair in the soup: unrealistic benchmarks or definitions of success can be crippling to your momentum on social.

You have to understand how consumption of your content on social can impact your business – that way your expectations can remain connected with the actual possibilities that exist.

More simply put, if you DO get those 25k retweets, you shouldn’t automatically assume that’s going to translate into $25k in sales. You’re much better off accepting the shares at face value and appreciating that they’re bringing you reach, potential engagement and ideally, future customers.

How about trying to gain a certain number of followers in a specific region every 7 days (i.e. 20 new followers in Boston/week)? Or why not see how many people made it to a blog post on your webpage via the tweets you created to promote it?

These are realistic and relatively simple ways to stay grounded when you’re trying to determine your best path forward on social. Connecting the dots and drawing conclusions based on actual results will help you understand what you can accomplish on various social platforms.

Try, Try & Try Some More

Guesswork isn’t typically good work.

But when it comes to social media, systematic trial and error can shed a ton of insight into what’s successful in making an impact for your brand.

There’s a great TED Talk delivered by English economist Tim Harford in which he speaks about creating systematic ways of determining what’s working and what’s not when trying to solve a problem.

It’s no different when you’re creating campaigns for your social audience. Sure, there’s always risk involved (Exhibits 1 – 5 are here!), but you’ve got to be willing to explore your options and test the waters.

Harford goes on to say that while trial and error seems like an obvious methodology, we still “struggle to admit our own infallibility.” We want everything we create and launch and promote to be a hit with our customers… but that’s just not realistic.

So why not experiment and measure the impact of specific variables tied into your activity on social? For instance: time of day, number of characters used, topic, format, platforms on which content is shared, image/no image, specific influencers tagged… all of these characteristics can determine how successful you are on social.

Also, Calls To Action (CTAs) are a great way to measure who’s paying attention/ being influenced Be sure to leave your readers and community with instructions on what to do next when they’re done reading your content. By monitoring how many clicks you’re getting, you’ll be better equipped to understand what sways your audience.

Ultimately it all boils down to embracing a strategic approach to trial and error – decide which mediums/platforms you want to use and tracking metrics that can confirm whether or not you’re on the right path to achieving your goals.

Describe a time where you struggled to demonstrate the ROI of your efforts on social & how you resolved your problem! Let us know on Twitter @databoxHQ or @mattblackink.

About the author
Matt Black is a copywriting digital marketer based in Toronto, Canada. He loves sports, Quentin Tarantino's movies and traveling wherever, whenever.
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