Social media ROI is a bane for most marketers. In fact, it is the biggest concern of 55% of marketers, according to a Sprout Social survey. Out of the 2000 marketers surveyed, most said they have no clue how to define, measure, or report social media ROI.
Image via Sprout Social
If you’re in the same league of lost marketers, here’s something you need to understand:
Despite social media’s growing role in driving sales, it continues to be a place where people come to interact with friends and family. So, while brands and marketers can take part in the conversation unobtrusively, they can’t hijack it. They have to think of clever ways to sneak in their messaging without disrupting the user experience.
First, you need to define “social media ROI.” What does the term mean for you – direct sales, awareness, authority, traffic, or something else? Your answer will govern your metrics and strategies.
Then, you need to come to terms with one more fact. There are no quick fixes to improve your ROI; you need to think long-term.
Traditionally, social media ROI was tied to direct sales. Marketers largely ignored awareness and consideration-stage content in favor of purchase-oriented content. They focused on attribution instead of contribution.
However, today we know that social media’s real value is in the initial stages of the buyer journey. In fact, 30% of consumers want educational, informative social content from brands. They aren’t particularly interested in click-and-buy posts that lead them to a purchase point.
Image via Sprout Social
So, looking at social media ROI only from the sales perspective is misleading. If you’re able to expand awareness, tell your brand’s story in a compelling way, or foster customer loyalty beyond one-time purchases, you can consider yourself a “social success.”
Now that I’ve sorted out common misconceptions about social media ROI, it’s time to discuss ROI growth-hacking tips. Let’s get started.
How Can You Multiply Your Social Media ROI?
Below, I’ve discussed some of the most practical and proven tips to increase your social media ROI. But if you don’t have the time to read through till the end, I’ve compiled the main tips in an infographic below. You can download it for easier access.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the strategies.
1. Measure Your Current Social Media ROI
When working on your social media ROI, start by finding out how you currently fare. You need to audit your social media efforts.
So, where do you begin?
The first step is to define the goals of your social media marketing. According to a Buffer survey, 85% of marketers aspire to build brand awareness through social media.
Image via Buffer
So, if brand awareness is on your wishlist as well, you should measure metrics like:
- Follower counts
- Mentions and reshares
Likewise, if you’re aiming for community engagement, track the volume of comments on your posts. In short, your goals will govern the metrics and KPIs you will need to measure.
Next, calculate your social media marketing costs, which include:
- License costs of software solutions you’ve subscribed to in order to make your job easier. These can be platforms for publishing, analysis, automation, curation, chatbots, etc.
- Content creation expenses and staff salaries for videography, graphic design, and social media marketing.
- Promotion expenses, such as influencer fees, affiliate commissions, advertising costs, etc.
Then, deduct the total costs from total revenue to determine your profit. The profit percentage will be your ROI.
Sounds complicated, right?
You can use social media ROI calculators found in analytics tools like UTM Parameters and Google Analytics.
It’s worth noting that ROI calculation is not a one-time deal. Consistent ROI tracking helps you identify effective strategies, tools, platforms, influencers, and content.
2. Leverage Influencers
Influencers can help you achieve all of your social media marketing goals. They can grow your reach, credibility, and authority, and even drive sales. That’s why it makes sense to partner with influencers to boost your ROI.
You can hire influencers to promote your brand through sponsored content, reviews, contests, shout-outs, and account takeovers. Research proves that 63% of people trust what influencers say about a brand more than what the brand says about themselves.
Image via Edelman
If you partner with industry experts and thought leaders, you can establish credibility, attract new followers/customers/investors, and beat the competition.
Since influencers are more relatable than celebrities, their content touches people’s hearts. Their follower relationships are authentic and deep. As a result, the traffic they produce has high conversion potential.
If your social media ROI revolves around sales, influencers can help you there too. Micro-influencers (having 1K-10K followers), in particular, are adept at driving purchase conversations. In fact, they hold 22.2x more “try-and-buy” conversations than higher-tier influencers.
Influencers are ace content creators and marketers. You can use their unique voices and styles to tell compelling brand stories.
Now, you know why influencer marketing rocks. But, to derive all of its benefits, you need to partner with the right influencers. Your influencer’s niche and personal values should match with yours. If their followers fit your ideal customer personas, you get access to a ready-made, engaged audience base.
But you can’t possibly dig into hundreds of influencer profiles to find your best fit. Moreover, you can’t blindly trust credentials cited by unknown influencers and risk your investment.
You can approach agencies to help you with influencer selection. These agencies have databases of verified influencers and can assist you with proposal negotiations and relationship management as well.
3. Build a Solid Affiliate Marketing Program
You can run an affiliate program to drive traffic, engagement, and sales.
How does it work?
- You recruit affiliates to place your links on their websites, social media pages, and emails.
- You might need to train affiliates about product promotion or be ready to pay higher commissions for experienced affiliates.
- You track each affiliate’s performance and pay them a commission (flat or recurring) on the sales/conversions they generate through their links.
Affiliate marketing is most profitable when you have high customer retention rates. If your customer acquisition costs are low, you’ll have more disposable income to entice more resultful affiliates. The carrot-and-stick approach can motivate affiliates to work harder for you.
Select your affiliates wisely. Your affiliates should have substantial social following, engagement, and authority on the platforms you want to target. Like influencers, your affiliates should be from the same niche as you. For instance, if you own an apparel brand, hiring a fashionista blogger as an affiliate would be natural and profitable.
Nordstrom has one of the best affiliate marketing programs around. They often hire niche influencers as affiliates. To give an authentic flavor to their affiliate marketing, the brand gives its affiliates some of their products to try out.
Image via Instagram
Affiliates can pick and choose their personal favorites to promote. That’s how the brand has achieved huge sales and 500K+ new customers.
4. Build Brand Loyalty with Discounts and Coupons
Social media users love coupons and discounts. In fact, 63% of people actively follow brands just to seek out offers and discounts.
Discounts and coupons are useful for enticing first-time buyers as well as scoring repeat sales.
Yes, you heard me right. Do you really hope to win repeat conversions based on customer satisfaction alone? I hate to burst your bubble, but “satisfied customers” do not necessarily mean “loyal customers.”
Modern customers will shop from whichever brand gives them a better deal unless you lock in their loyalty through incentives like coupons and discounts. In technical terms, this is called loyalty marketing.
Despite all of this, marketers seem oblivious to the power of timely deals and offers.
72% of consumers want discount-laden posts on social – but it’s a business opportunity that is going untapped right now.
Image via Sprout Social
If you are able to meet the expectations of deal seekers, you can multiply your social media ROI effectively.
Like ModCloth below, you can post a juicy discount now and then to catch the attention of dormant buyers and grab new eyeballs.
Image via Twitter
5. Invest in Social Media Ads
To get a quick bang for your buck, go the advertising route. Social media ads provide you with a targeted reach that organic content lacks. They also come in handy for A/B testing content, platforms, and audience segments.
There are many social platforms, but that doesn’t mean that you should advertise everywhere. Pick the platforms where your target audience is most concentrated, accessible, and engaged.
For instance, if you’re targeting teens and tweens, Snapchat and TikTok may be your best bets. Moms, on the other hand, love Instagram and Facebook.
That said, advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube almost always generates assured returns since they have a huge, diverse user base.
After deciding on the platforms, think about the ad format you want to use. Try to go with formats that have an organic look and feel. For visual-rich platforms like Instagram, go with photo ads, as shown below.
Image via Facebook
If you’re looking for high converting Facebook ads, video ads should be your pick. They have more scope for experimentation than static ads. They are also more gripping and engaging.
Let’s say you want to promote a dance coaching class. The best way to showcase it may be through video ads.
Apart from these formats, you can create Carousel ads (to bundle multiple images), Story ads, Messenger ads, and more. Pick formats that deliver good value for money.
- Regardless of the format you choose, take care of the following points while crafting your ads:
- Ensure that your ad copy is persuasive and crisp.
- Include a prominent call-to-action (CTA) such as “Learn More,” “Buy Now, ” etc., so that people know the next steps to take.
- Avoid a salesy tone.
- Include user-generated content (UGC) as social proof in ads. It’s compelling and non-promotional.
6. Leverage User-Generated Content
Use your customers as billboards. Instead of boasting about yourself through costly ads, let your customers do it for you. UGC is more believable and authentic, not to mention FREE.
79% of social-savvy shoppers say that UGC helps them make purchase decisions.
Image via Stackla
While incorporating UGC, remember to be completely transparent in the credits. Also, don’t shirk from sharing negative user feedback as well. Customers appreciate honesty in brands. That’s why brands like J.Crew let customer reviews take center-stage on their website.
Image via J.Crew
To collect UGC at scale, you can create exclusive hashtag campaigns on social media.
A brand that nails this tactic is REI Co-op, a camping gear manufacturer. They create hashtag contests on Instagram, asking their followers to share pictures of themselves using the brand’s products.
Image via Instagram
Then, they feature the best pictures on their branded social pages.
7. Laser Focus Your Targeting
It’s no use creating or curating stellar content if you don’t target it precisely and timely. Targeting can make all the difference when you want your content to shine on saturated social media platforms.
So, how you do get started?
First, take a close look at your audience demographics. Find out where your audience is most active. Then, accelerate your marketing on those platforms.
For instance, if your target audience consists mainly of millennials and Gen-Zers, Facebook and Instagram are the platforms you should focus on.
Then, dig into the engagement rates of various content types on your target platforms. You will get a fair idea about the kind of content you should create to grab attention.
You can see from the chart below by Socialbakers that organic live videos get maximum engagement on Facebook and Carousel posts on Instagram.
Image via Socialbakers
Last, find the best days and times to post using social media marketing tools like Hootsuite or Buffer. By aligning your marketing with platform algorithms, you can improve your content’s organic reach.
To precision focus your reach, filter the timings by audience demographics. This way, your posts appear in your target audience’s feeds when they are most likely to see them.
8. Capitalize on Shoppable Features
Social media has transformed from a shopping enabler to a shopping driver. Today, many shopping journeys start on social media. People are not only discovering and researching new brands/products through social media; they are also directly buying from within social platforms.
Don’t believe me?
Then, check out these survey results of 200K+ shoppers by GlobalWebIndex:
Image via GlobalWebIndex
Social selling is one of the most efficient ways to improve your social media ROI. To do it, use the shoppable features available within your target platforms.
Instagram supports social e-commerce by providing features like Shopping tags, Shopping ads, Instagram Checkout, Live Shopping, etc.
Facebook, on the other hand, has Facebook Shops and Messenger.
Facebook Shops allow you to build a store, add products, sell directly, manage orders, and administer ads. Messenger allows you to use artificial intelligence-powered chatbots to sell to consumers. Take a look at Sephora’s Reservation Assistant bot that lets people book makeover appointments right from Facebook.
Image via Facebook
With Pinterest, you can upload your catalog and get a shop tab that shows all of your products. You can also run shopping ads, use buyable Pins or rich Pins.
9. Create a Personal Connection with Consumers
Social media is all about conversing with your consumers. You need to look for opportunities to interact with people on impersonal platforms. The more you interact with them, the better your chances of becoming their preferred brand.
But how can you reach out to consumers?
One, you can create quizzes and surveys to gain insights about your audiences and personalize social commerce. Take a cue from Sephora’s “Fragrance Quiz.”
Image via Pinterest
The quiz ends with product recommendations based on each user’s answers. The brand creates an experience akin to in-store shopping via a playful quiz. They also learn about their consumers’ tastes and preferences, which helps them refine their targeting.
Two, you can make your website social friendly. Add social buttons to let visitors share their carts, reviews, and recommendations with their friends and followers.
By letting fans share their love, you demonstrate how much you value them. Plus, you tighten the community and establish your credibility.
Need an example?
Take a look at Oreo’s marketing strategy. They do a double whammy by letting people customize their cookies and share their creations on social media.
Image via Oreo
You can’t get more personal than that!
10. Improve Your Content Quality
Last but not least, fine-tune your content creation. After all, content is the backbone of all forms of digital marketing.
Do a content audit to find out where you stand currently. Then, use social media listening tools like Mention to home in on the best performing content on your target platforms. Try to replicate the same content quality, keeping your unique style intact.
You can use professional content writing and photo editing tools to create error-free, eye-catching content. If you have the resources, hire professional content creators who are experts at social media writing.
To put your best face forward, stay abreast of all the latest trends in social media.
Ready to Skyrocket Your Social Media ROI?
I know that’s a lot of information to digest in one go. But, these are the insights I’ve gathered after analyzing the best social media marketing campaigns around. These strategies will help you drive organic traffic, engage followers, improve your authority, and sell more efficiently. All of these will have a cumulative positive effect on your social media ROI.
Do you have questions about any of these hacks? Feel free to voice them in the comments below. I’ll be happy to answer them.
Author: Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is the co-founder of Attrock, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities. Connect with Shane on Twitter, LinkedIn & Instagram.
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