Realising the ROI from your social media activities


Image credit: Flickr

Social media Return on Investment (ROI) is something that all companies want. But ROI is a very difficult thing to measure through something as intangible as a social media campaign, a blogging strategy or web competition. Case studies are examples of your success in the corporate world, and also a key indicator of sentiment and success in the social media space.

In these difficult times, when companies have no budget, social media tools must deliver a positive ROI. If you run a project, you need to prove the ROI and demonstrate its’ worth.

Old Spice had an innovative way to persuade women to buy Old Spice in the US. They launched an online video campaign called ‘the man your man can smell like’. The campaign was launched during super bowl week and it targeted TV programs where viewers would likely watch together. In the first 3 months of 2010, mentions of the Old Spice brand captured 75% of all conversations with half of the conversations initiated by women. Other videos started to appear parodying the Old Spice advert and style of conversation, and TV presenters like Oprah mentioned the brand on her show.

The agency then hit upon a great way to capture the real time messages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It recorded over 40 responses to online messages: proposals of marriage, answers to questions and replies to users who had posted questions. This follow on campaign had an amazing response and a huge knock on effect on the Old Spice Twitter and Facebook pages. The old Spice website had a 300% increase in site visits and became the most popular channel on YouTube. Financially this campaign has made a difference too with sales of Old Spice body wash up by 27% in 6 months since campaign launch. A great return on investment from a YouTube video campaign.

Dell wants to drive repeat business, drive visitors to their site and lower their costs. Their site is full of user generated content and ideas for future product development. As social media impacts every part of Marketing, Dell sees a correlation between customers visiting their social and tech centre sites, discussing and purchasing of products.

Social media should be an integral part of brand building and activities done on social media, impacts the brand, the products and the way that Dell interact with customers and consumers. Social media impacts everything that social media can do from product development with idea storm – to graduate recruitment. The way that people talk about your brand is very different from the way that you talk about your brand. Go and engage with them where they are. Tools embedded in Facebook can bring value to the overall experience. Ratings on content means that you can add value to the user generated content. You get credibility for the content – and this leads to sales.

So how do you realise ROI for your social media activities? Here are some tips:

· Measure your success in your activities. 34% of B2B firms don’t currently do this. Find your baseline and measures to make sure that you can grow your figures and improve upon.

· Be credible. Get a blog. Demonstrate your credibility. The company will want to see positive PR and visibility. Employee blogs will add to these column inches as your presence increases.

· Get case studies. Find recent stories that are relevant to your organisation. Position them to the budget holders who want to see ROI, not the amount of fans, page views or ‘Likes’. They want to see revenue. The Old Spice campaign worked. It led to an uptick in sales. Sales matter. Numbers matter.

· Listen to the customer. Dell has a 24 x 7 Command centre. They listen to the conversations taking place about the company around the world. Credible insiders get a better response to their conversations than a Marketing or PR person.

· Have different strategies for your brand. Be prepared to change direction quickly if your strategy isn’t getting any traction. That way, you’ll be able to see which strategy generates the best ROI. ROI is what the executives understand.

· You need a social media policy. Your social media policy needs to be good, it needs to be flexible. It needs to be followed and it needs to be monitored. For this, you need to ask the key questions of your organisation. What the business wants, what the employees are permitted to do, and what the interaction with the community will be.

· Get sales from your efforts. Budget holders want to see a positive ROI or they will not commit. You’ll get a much better level of interaction if you can add your customer’s social media profile to your customer database. You’ll be able to engage with them at a whole new level. Think about which sites to focus on.

· Get staff to execute on your social media plan. You need to position this carefully as this is a cost to the business. 60% of businesses don’t have staff dedicated to social media. Without staff to engage or without time to engage you will not have success.

If the board doesn’t get the value of social media, remind them that 50% of your competitors are using social media and will be quite happy to have the conversation with your customers instead

And if they’re still not convinced, I’ll talk to them about the business value of social media and why they can get business success by following some simple guidelines in my book. J


Eileen Brown is a social media consultant who helps companies with their social media strategy. Her book, Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business, is available at