The internet is awash with methodologies and calculators for determining the return on investment in social media, right down to the 'Value of a Like', or VOAL, or the value of a tweet. Rightly so: you're unlikely to invest without measurement, otherwise how can you adjust your social activities in order to increase the return on your investment in social media?
Here are three inspired ways to drive up ROI from social by being smarter: two ways that will make a difference to the social metrics and one to make a difference to a different, far more important number.
Know who counts most and accord them appropriate value
We all see campaigns proclaiming soaring engagement figures and other impressive numbers, but the truth is that these are, by themselves, meaningless. Without context, all you have is a nice graph.
Understanding the demography, affinities, connections to competitors, influence, and activity levels of an audience, in detail, provides a clearer assessment on how much each member of that audience is worth to your brand - and, therefore, the overall value and success of your campaign. Know the real people and influencers that count, all of them; focus your attention on them to drive up ROI.
But how? Our recommendation is to invest in a social platform to identify the people you actually want to connect with at a granular level. Consider too, the options the platforms offer for connecting with that audience, making it easier to track ROI right through from audience identification to campaign execution.
Use consumer insight from social business-wide
In its Social Intelligence Playbook for 2016, Forrester notes that social intelligence delivers actionable business insights: "Social intelligence — consumer and business insights derived from social media channels, used to drive business strategy and answer business questions — is a critical aspect of adaptive, customer-obsessed businesses". And, as Forrester also points out, customer-obsessed is what you need to be by 2020.
So are the audience insights you extract from 'social' still siloed in your business? You're not alone if so; Forrester estimates that in 2015 only 51% of data and analytics decision-makers had unencumbered access to insights, rising to 56% in 2016 and perhaps 66% in 2017. So, while you may not be alone now, the imperative to start sharing your socially-acquired audience intelligence across your business is clear.
And the driving-up of ROI from using knowledge acquired socially across the business? Of course: it's just more ostensibly-simple maths. After all, if the wider business is benefiting from socially-acquired knowledge, then you are getting higher - much higher - ROI from social.
Measuring it? Not so easy - although it's worth recording that Forrester forecasts a world of pain for companies that fail to become customer insights-led. What is the return on investment when business success or failure could be at stake?
Become a mind reader
No need to hire Mystic Meg, Marketers have long-known the power of communicating and engaging with people at a subconscious or individual level. Think neuro-linguistic programming, or values-based marketing or, these days in particular, aligning everything to the individual customer. Knowing how your audience thinks goes a long way to turning metrics into money. However the difficulty (and expense) lies in accurately determining the personality, affinities and values of an audience, and it's one reason why companies conduct market or audience research.
But social media and, more specifically, the way people use it, reveals all. We put information in our biographies, we engage in conversations, we form relationships and interact with what we see. We write stuff ourselves, about certain subjects, in a tone of voice that can also be interpreted. And in doing so we willingly give an insight into our attitudes, values and behaviour - if someone knows where to look and how to make sense of all the data from all those sources.
What's the bottom line here? It's that it's always possible to drive more ROI from social media. We live in a world of technology-inspired individualism. Everyone has a voice, every customer expects to be treated like a unique individual, and to have their own, unique conversations - something you can aim to do with social media. Social can be one of your best friends; it will be possible to drive higher and higher ROI from it until you really are having scalable, intelligent conversations with all your possible customers.
View a selection of courses we run about Social Media Marketing.
This article originally appeared here on the Audiense blog