Return on Investment through Social Media is still a tough topic, since most clients still do not accurately value their social media, or think it can be done on a whim. Not every client has what it takes for that one viral video that will entertain or tap into the emotional side of the customers. Social media requires patience, persistence, constant communication with the fan-base, a mind-set geared toward helping, informing and answering the demands of your public – and all of this starts before selling anything. So, the big question is when should you start to see some return on investment, while you put yourselves and your heart out there, in the wild world, for everyone to see? How long should you update Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, before you get noticed, get offers, have people mentioning a social media discount code, and grow that fan-base in a true community? Well, ROI is not an over-night success business.
According to a study done in July 2013 by Statistic Brain, 25% of the new businesses fail within a year, and 44% of them fail in three years. Almost half of the failures are caused by incompetence, mainly managerial – which includes lack of planning, no knowledge about financing or no record-keeping. If you want to succeed, you need to have a plan, set goals, and market your business – and here is where social media comes in the picture. If anyone tells you that social media replaces traditional marketing and it can be done with a smart phone, while juggling other tasks, please run away from that person, it is a scam! Social media is an addition to your marketing, an increasingly important part. It also needs to be planned, to have goals, to add to your overall marketing strategy AND to bring a return on investment. BUT, this ROI won’t be within the first month. Your numbers won’t explode with two Facebook posts a week. It takes serious strategy and persistent, meticulous work every day, on multiple social media outlets, in order to achieve results and see them. Same like agriculture: you need to plant, water constantly, clean the weeds, add compost, in order to harvest.
I started all the social media presence for my business from scratch, considering myself as one of my main clients. I had a clear strategy about branding, consistency of posting, and about the results I wanted to see. It was an important part of my overall marketing and networking, but I did not rely only on it only. A Return on Influence through social media started to show after six months of constant, daily posting and networking. First, there were offers to write for specialty websites, then collaboration proposals, questions from the media, requests for proposals, then contracts. It was not easy to put all the effort in, but I am persistent, genuine, and curious, I care, and I know how to do things. My background and 25 years of experience in Communication and Journalism helped a lot in developing my own social media, along with my client’s.
But, since it is always better to offer more than one opinion about everything, I asked my peers across the US about their expectancy in terms of ROI with social media, and here is what they said:
Alisa Meredith, Partner and Strategist at Scalable Social Media, LLC, Wilmington, North Carolina: “Our shortest retainer for social or inbound marketing is six months. That is long enough to start seeing some progress, so they’ll know they want to continue with us, but we make sure they know it takes 6-12 to start really paying off.”
Michelle Phillips, Web Designer/Social Media Consultant, Owner at Codefetti, LLC, in Rochester Hills, Michigan:“Most of my work is local business consulting, so start to finish averages 3 months once the contract is signed and the retainer is paid. Regarding ROI, I am happy to receive a referral within a month of completing a project or if the client opts for a monthly maintenance contract.”
Nancy Babcock, Social Media Strategist, Owner of Creative Arts Consulting, LLC, State College, Pennsylvania: “My clients are new to creating an online presence for ROI. We are building their online presence from the ground up including keywords, SEO, and social platform presence. During the initial consultation meeting, we discuss the average length of time that it takes a business to realize a return on their investment. The average contract length is six months. Thirty days prior to contract expiration we meet and renegotiate; adding or changing services based on the past 5 month performance period.”
Kerry Armour, Creative Director and Owner of Millipede Media Group, Santa Fe, New Mexico: “My longer term contracts are 3-6 months. Most work is a defined job that takes from a day to a month; as in write-a website, edit a whitepaper, etc. ROI, is really slow here in Santa Fe. I’ve been in the same networking group for 3 years and it is just now giving me work. So I’m not a good one to ask that question of!”
Heidi Osburn Garland
Heidi Garland, Social Media Strategist, owner of Guild West Agency, Inc., San Jose, California: “The ROI question is a tough one to answer. We work with our clients to establish quantifiable results such as 25% increase in traffic to the company website and 50 new customers in 2 months. We implement a targeted strategic design plan to deliver those results. It’s always a slippery slope when the client has vague expectations such as I want “more” fans. What exactly would you like these “fans” to do. If the client has vague expectations they will have vague results.”
- As I said – be persistent and keep “seeding” and “watering” your social media accounts. The results will definitely come!
© Simona R. Stefanescu – Simona Media, 2013. All materials published on www.simonamedia.com cannot be reproduced, stored or used without prior written permission of the owner, and cannot be used for profit.