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By Dan Purvis | @DanPurvis

Business investment in social media is growing. In the U.S. alone social media spending is expected to increase to $17.34bn in 2019 , indicative of the value social can bring to business. However, once you have invested in social media management, you’ll want palpable and tangible results. This article will discuss how a business demonstrates real value from its social media investment, the role of influencer marketing, and how to show tangible ROI. 

Measuring social media ROI

Social media return on investment cannot be based on likes and shares alone. These kinds of metrics are valuable for understanding the position of your brand, how brand awareness is developing, and how popular your content is. But they don’t give you a figure that you can present to the financial department.

Such vanity metrics have a place in your social media analyses but when it comes to return on investment, there’s very little you can give as hard evidence from this data. Clickthroughs are often held up as a good example of measurement for social media, but they can be notoriously difficult to track.

As for brand awareness, how do you measure this and prove to those at the top of your company that growing awareness of the brand justifies the social media spend?

There is no quick fix. But with the right behaviour businesses can establish a long-term strategy for growth. This begins with a clear understanding of their audiences and the delivery of content which sparks interest and engagement.

Engagement leads to clickthroughs which can be transformed into leads and then sales. As such, influencer marketing is now an excellent way to not just amplify brand awareness, but spark engagements and drive targeted traffic to a website or specific landing page.

The role of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has been branded a “trend” by many but the role it plays in the success of digital marketing campaigns cannot be ignored. Nielsen Catalina Solutions found that a successful influencer campaign can generate 16x higher ROI than the average campaign.

Today influencers come in many shapes and sizes, not just celebrities. These mega influencers are no longer the focus. So-called macro and micro influencers are just as important. Macro influencers achieve 5% to 25% engagement on their posts, with followers around 10,000 up to 1 million.

But today, micro influencers are now the focus, with around 500 to 10,000 followers and the ability to gain up to 50% engagement on a single post. Micro-influencers are much better placed to focus on one-to-one engagements and crucially for businesses, they are more affordable. 

One of the key drivers which makes influencers so attractive to customers is that they are so easy to engage with. Influencers know how the target customer wants to be spoken to and can build a rapport with them. They also have that role model factor which makes their opinion more valuable than the average follower.

Knowing your audience is absolutely essential in influencer marketing. In this in-depth report by Sotrender into fashion brand Next’s social performance, it was possible to discover Facebook audience interests. Getting an understanding of what their fans are actually interested in allows brands to position their content better and ensure they are in line with their audience’s passions and interests. The research also helps identify influencers with whom the brand can connect.

The varying levels of influencer, from micro to mega, gives brands plenty to tap into. As already mentioned the power of the micro influencer is at the heart of many a marketing campaign because of the power they wield. They aren’t the names you’ll see cropping up on television but they are people who can sway opinion and are held in high regard in their individual communities and industries. The difficulty in measuring influence can mean some brands are duped, which is why it is essential to be vigilant and keep an eye out for fakery.

Guarding against social media fakery

Influencer marketing, like all forms of marketing activity, has its pitfalls but unfortunately some brands still don’t realise this. Simply put: if you engage with fake influencers (and there are many out there) then you will not generate any meaningful traffic metrics and won’t attract the right audience to your product, service or site.  You’ll be stuck with vanity metrics that do not, on their own, represent ROI of any kind.

Thousands and thousands of followers does not denote great engagement levels or influence.  Unfortunately, some brands think the two go hand in hand. A lot of followers doesn’t mean that someone has the influence needed to deliver any of these goals, so all businesses need to tread carefully and not get drawn in simply by the numbers.

Get more than you give with effective social media

By using social media analysis to uncover trends, the right influencers, and determine what’s working (or not!), you can leverage the reach of influencers while continually improving the impact and performance of your campaigns. While influencers may deliver great metrics, you need to ensure that you analyse the metrics that matter most for the growth targets of your brand. This is how ROI is realised – tangible data that matters to your C-Suite, not vanity metrics that mean little.

Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

Picture credit: Copyright © 2004 César Rincón

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