Less than three years ago, business writers were talking about social media marketing as “the next big thing.” Today it’s hard to imagine any business that doesn’t invest a lot of time – and sometimes money – in social media marketing.
However, despite our wide acceptance and reliance on it, it’s important to occasionally take a step back and try to get a handle on our social media marketing effectiveness. This can help you discover the strategies that are working best, uncover those that are letting you down, and refocus your efforts for increased cost effectiveness and growth.
The bottom line is that you need to make assessments based on your return on investment. This gets a little tricky because you may not have a “number” immediately assigned to every element that goes into your social media marketing efforts. For example, how do you value your time?
Put a price on your head
If you personally handle elements of or all of your social media marketing program, there are two ways to put a number on your time. First, you can estimate how much it would cost you to hire someone to do what you currently do. That’s pretty easy and straightforward. A second approach would be to consider the lost opportunities you’re experiencing due to the hours you spend on social media marketing and assign a number to that.
Merely taking the time to do these two estimates will tell you something about the current state of your social media marketing effectiveness. If the value of your lost opportunities is greater than what you would pay someone to do your social media marketing work, you need to farm it out ASAP.
There’s one more area to consider when you’re calculating your costs: paid social media marketing and the various subscription services you may be using. In a spreadsheet, you would have two columns, one for organic social media marketing and one for paid social media marketing, or you might call these social media ads. Judging your ROI on the paid ads won’t be very difficult, but be sure to include the time and money you spend planning them.
After you have figures you’re happy with, you need to consider your goals and your progress against your goals. Are you building a following? If so, then you can quickly determine the cost of each new follower. Are you looking for a boost in sales? In that case, you need to be able to track sales back to followers. Do you want to build your influence? You need to assign a value on opportunities that have opened up to you due to your social media clout.
I’ll be the first to admit, that some of these numbers are going to be “fuzzy.” That’s okay if you keep two things in mind:
- You need to be consistent in the values you assign. Once you set them, stick with them.
- You’re looking for trends and “cause and effect” in the numbers over time.
Next, I’ll explain these two points and why they are important for gauging your social media marketing effectiveness.
Let me use the government’s monthly unemployment figures as a parallel example. It doesn’t matter if April’s unemployment rate was exactly 5.6 percent. What’s important is that it was collected and measured using the same means and criteria as were used in January, February, and March. When there is consistency, trends along with cause and effect will be honestly reflected in the numbers. We can make rational decisions.
When you take a social media effectiveness snapshot like this at regular intervals, you’ll be creating a valuable database of personal social media statistics. And, by the way, if you want to dive into a big pot of important social media statistics, you should check out Kendall Walters’ Hootsuite article, “125+ Essential Social Media Statistics Every Marketer Should Know.”
Social media has become such an integral part of our everyday lives and business habits, that many small business owners fail to measure their social media marketing effectiveness, especially when they are doing everything themselves. Unless they are paying to boost posts, etc, they figure their expenses are too small to bother with.
In a sense that may be true, but unless you measure its effectiveness you will never be able to discover the strategies that work well for you and those that don’t. This, of course, will seriously hamper your ability to grow your business.