Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on May 14th, 2009

Your Guide to Return On Social (ROS)

Don’t look now, but social media just became a pretty big deal. This isn’t your kid’s social media anymore, with more adults using Twitter than a bird could dream of aiming for. Social media can be leveraged for strategic communications and marketing purposes, with metrics and analytical tools coming out that track behavior, demographics, and reactions to interaction with brands. The one adoption barrier for many corporations locking social media out is the lack of return of investment. “We need numbers, not friends!” yells the little green man in the three piece suit. Demand, meet supply. There are now essentially four different types of returns on social media marketing campaigns that will give you something to chew on. Now, there are no excuses.

1. Links

The most popular leverage of social media within the SEO community is its use for link building. Using social media as a launching pad for your content, aka linkbait, can effectively produce hundreds of links for your site. Would you rather beg or continue to ask nicely for links? It is a great alternative to wrestling links out of other websites with link bait.

I would like to caution those who are eager to jump head first in social media, without sticking you toe in the water first. The objective is to produce a piece of unique, valuable content that will virally spread, get popular, and reach the user base of your target audience. A solid, popular piece of content will be seen by thousands of bloggers content crazy for something to “blogurgitate”.

2. Branding

This word is so hot, a melodramatic housewife holding a mixing bowl just fainted somewhere. Social media goes well beyond just building traffic and links. It is also about developing brand awareness, identity, and raving fans of your company’s culture. It’s about creating a social experience with the idea of what your brand stands for. If the experience is fun, exciting, positive, interesting, or funny, the user will have a unique brand experience and most likely follow up themselves.

Viral videos, flash games, contests, and very useful content will support any ongoing communications between you and your new raving fan. Any positive and negative experience can have a significant impact on a brand and its bottom line. The Return On Social can be determined by the views of videos, the hits on your site, how many people are participating in contests, and, of course, how many conversions you get through these creative implementations.

3. Sales

“Alright, now your talking my language!” says the little green man in the three piece suit. The bottom line for most marketing initiatives is to increase sales. Social media can bring sales both directly and indirectly. This is due in large part because you are communicating with consumers in a non-purchasing cycle of their day. This does contrast from any standard marketing or SEO strategy to hit the consumers at the point of purchase.

Social media less conspicuous, and most of the reason why people will engage with your brand. They are expecting more than a pitch, they are expecting an experience. Anything too sales-y will be ignored like Pete Rose at the Hall of Fame. The recommended way to generate sales from social media is to show how good your product or service is in a creative or unique way.

4. Socializing

What would social media be without socializing?! There are tons of benefits from interacting with your customers through social networking. Some of these interactions can lead to product improvements, constructive feedback, and establish an entirely new dialogue with your customers. This could change your messaging or inspire ideas that you would have never thought of before. Blog. Allow comments on your blog. Comment on other blogs, socially. Don’t spam people.

Social media is a safe haven for many people who don’t want to be hassled by marketers. Reach out to new communities that you feel align with your company and customer culture. You can judge your Return On Social through the dialogue and popularity of your profiles.

These are all ways you can determine your Return On Social, Excel spreadsheets and eye-numbing flip charts are optional. Social media is still evolving and growing, and participation is changing, with more opportunities for creative marketing than ever before. Volacci is the leading Drupal SEO company and very passionate about your online success. By the end of your contract you will have at least as much additional business from your web site as you spend on our services... or we'll work for free until you do.

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