Social ROI (Part II)
By Joe Szalkiewicz
This is Part II of a two-part series. Part I is available here.
Who do you want to reach?
This needs to be as specific as possible. What gender(s), what geographic region(s), what types of primary interests does the audience include? The more specific the better. This is where the digital world, and digital natives specifically, have opened up a treasure trove of information to help you connect to very specific personas. Be very authentic with your own disposition regarding who you want to reach. The more genuine you are with this, the more successful your programs will be. You can develop a few complementary personas, but don’t go crazy. I like to go by the Rule of Three’s. If you can come up with three complimentary personas who you think would be great audience members, that’s plenty.
Why do you want to reach them?
This is a gut check on the authenticity comment above. Spend some time “red teaming” and playing devil’s advocate. Why is this persona the best type of person for us to reach? What about this type of person will resonate well with the culture of our brand? How will reaching this type of person serve our corporate or institutional goals?
What do you want them to do?
This is the most important question. It establishes your Social CTA(s) (Call to Action). This is the ROI Bullet for the board room. Once you have a clear and defined understanding of what you want people to do, you will be able to give reports that wow your executive team and help you clearly show that your programs matter on a bottom line level, and that they’re working. The trick here is to boil this down to the right action(s) for social. Of course, the foundational thing you want people to do is to buy your product or support your organization. When your executive asks “What’s our ROI?” they mean “How many widgets did we sell because of your effort?” This has been an eternal battle for marketing. On one level, the Jennifers of the world (see Part I) can rightly say “all of them!” Without brand awareness, no widgets would be sold.
For most companies, though, the customer journey is a long and winding road. Sometimes social can begin and finish the customer journey, but often it can’t. At some point, the client has to step out of their newsfeed and into your brand’s commerce cycle. Apps are developing to allow the commerce cycle to happen within social, so this discernment is best made brand by brand, or at least industry by industry. If you can tie your customer journey all the way to the point of purchase right in social, then you have the ROI your executive wants, and that’s what you report on: the number of widgets actually sold. But this is still the exception, not the rule. The diamond industry, for example, will probably never evolve to where engagement rings are purchased entirely within social platforms. There will always be a need to visit a store to touch and see and compare around such a high-dollar purchase. Same thing is true with the car industry: the need to test drive the vehicle will always remain.
Let’s take a concrete example for either industry to develop some idea of a great ROI bullet. For the diamond industry, a strong indication that you’ve made progress toward a purchase would be a zip code or city search for a jewelry store that would have your brand. Same for cars. So, let’s say Jennifer works for Tesla. And, let’s say she uses an app that can let Facebook fans search for Tesla Retailers in their city or zip code (these exist, of course). Now Jennifer has something really important to share with her board about her social efforts. Jennifer has to start the process by doing the hard work of getting the board to think about and agree to all three answers to all three questions. This isn’t easy! But, let’s say that hard work is done and the board has agreed about who they want to reach, why they want to reach that community, and what they want them to do that is relevant and accomplishable. For Jennifer, the board has agreed that geographic zip code searches for Tesla stores is the right ROI for social.
The next time Jennifer meets with her board, she’ll be able to tell them all the great news by setting up and knocking down these same three questions.
“Well, board,” she will say, “as you know, we are seeking to reach 18-35 year old affluent females in the New York area that have deep interests in the arts and design. Last quarter, we grew our access to this community by adding 5,000 new members to our social platforms: an increase of 64%. As you’ll remember, we want to engage this community because we’ve seen that affluent women who show serious interest in art and design in New York are our best prospects, and they have engaged our Tesla-affirming content over 25,000 times this quarter. This is up 242% from last quarter. And the best news is our fans shared their interest in our brand with over 250,000 of their friends, this is the best kind of digital word of mouth advertising we can get! Oh, and as for the ROI component, we’ve had over 1,200 community members search for a Tesla store in New York. Now I’d like to turn it over to Bob from sales to let him share how well sales is converting the interest we are generating on social into orders. Bob?"