How many times have you heard someone say, “It’s impossible to calculate the ROI of social media”? If I had a dollar for every time someone uttered that phrase in my presence I’d be pre-ordering a Tesla Model X right now instead of sharing my two-bit wisdom with you all.
Not only is it very possible and necessary to track ROI from social media activities but it is even possible to track results down to a specific individual. Knowing how to determine someone’s social influence allows you to be very strategic — and not just when selecting industry influencers. Calculating and leveraging the potential reach of particular social networks and communities and individuals within those networks is a required exercise in modern marketing.
This said, calculating ROI of social media is *NOT* the same as the way you would calculate ROI from something like PPC advertising. It’s a different activity, meant for a different part of the buyer’s journey (for those of you that still use the term funnel, it’s a different part of the funnel), trying to achieve different objectives. So please, don’t try to apply calculations that don’t fit. It’s the wrong mindset.
*Blush* You’ve made an impression on me
When calculating social influence there are many moving parts. And when they move in unison you can make miraculous things happen. Social influence is not just about how many fans, followers, and likes a social account has– if you’ve read my earlier Vanity Metrics, Part 1 or Vanity Metrics, Part 2 posts you’ll know what I’m talking about. Determining true social influence has less to do with vanity metrics and a lot to do with trust, engagement, and data analysis.
There have been many articles written about influence on social media but none lay it out simpler than Raymond Morin in his article How To Define Influence In Social Media. Raymond lists nine key signals and I strongly recommend referring to them when determining someone’s social influence.
Reach: The importance of the influencer’s network, in terms of size (number of subscribers), as by the potential level of influence of those who are a part of this network.
Resonance: The impact of the message generated through social media.
Authority: The validity given, within the network, to both the message and the messenger.
Credibility: Credibility is as much about the reputation as it is about the authority granted to the influencer.
E-Reputation: The digital “DNA” and “fingerprint” of the influencer throughout the network.
These first five indicators constitute the key metrics commonly used by measurement tools to gauge the influence within social media in order to assess the social influencer’s social score.
However, the real leadership of an influencer is also based on other values that cannot be measured with algorithms:
- Expertise: Recognition of the influencer through his or her achievements and professional activities.
- Relevance: The accuracy and consistency of the influencer’s interventions and quality content related to the expectations of the network concerned.
- Trust: A feeling of confidence as much about the relevance of the message as about the expertise of the influencer.
- Engagement : The index value that is the most significant since it represents the final
results of the influence used.
Marketers are well-dressed nerds
Modern marketing is a complex, multi-channeled process that has two main goals: (1) attraction and (2) retention. More and more frequently marketing professionals are relying on data science to audit target personas and identify new conversations that they can participate in to increase market awareness. Through understanding the social and online buying behavior of existing customers businesses can create actionable campaigns to attract similar customers. And by continuously being in and around the online conversations that customers are having about your areas of interest you increase your chances of retention – and more importantly recommendation.
Note that we are not talking here about a 3rd goal, conversion. If you go into Social Media searching for a conversion narrative, you’ll be sorry with the results, as conversions can ultimately result from social media engagements, but are should never be designed primarily as such. Your intent should be attraction (awareness, really) and retention — in the form of engagement. Where most marketers go wrong is in bringing a conversion mindset to social media… Only to find that direct interaction with sole intent of buy my stuff isn’t really a conversation at all.
Don’t hate the player
Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? And who doesn’t love a good story told by a dear friend? Smart marketers are using this human preference to amplify their messaging. Access to data allows for painless tracking of campaigns and an almost effortless determination of which voice on which network and/or news outlet carries the most influence for you. Accurate calculation of social influence will no doubt reform your current marketing activities.
Hey savvy marketer! Do you know your share of voice? Share of voice is the percentage of advertising for one brand in a particular product category as compared to other brands in the same category. In lieu of traditional advertising methods, if you have an active community and a sub-set of highly influential individuals regularly mentioning your brand, your share of voice will be much greater than that of your competitors. Tools like Radian6, Sysomos, and Traackr enable you to calculate the quantifiable metrics that play into share of voice such as RT’s as well as the qualitative factors such as the individuals talking about your brand. Some even measure tone or sentiment — usually positive or negative. Measuring share of voice is a good ROI indicator and clearly shows the power of social influence.
We are surrounded by a limitless amount of data. When you are preparing for a conversation with a new contact, do your research. There is no excuse for going into a meeting without knowledge of what is publicly available. An expert is not an expert if your community hasn’t heard of them. So research your target audience and anyone else you invite to your community as an influencer.
Calculating social media ROI is as much common sense as it is mathematics, as much intuition as it is metrics. Don’t get caught up in first glances. Know what is important to you and your brand and take satisfaction in your wins.
Like the value of art — you’ll know it when you see it.