What is the Real ROI of Social Media?

What’s the right way to measure the impact of your social media?

The answer is not a number, and it doesn’t have anything to do with website traffic.

The real return on social media is ROR: return on relationships.

Social media, after all, is about people.

So many marketers are focused on honing target audiences that they forget about the real people who pay their company’s invoices.

If you never pay attention to the real people you do business with, or if all you do is remind them about what your product or service can do for them, they never have the opportunity to get to know, like and trust you, which means they are unlikely going to buy anything else from you.

The Difference Between Social Media and Advertising

Social media = Talking with people online.

Advertising = Paying to get the name of your business in front of people online.

Social media is not “better” than advertising, and advertising is not “better” than social media. They are two completely different things. Advertising campaigns target a specific demographic over a specific amount of time, and the result is usually measured by clicks or conversions.

Great social media marketing has nothing to do with campaigns and website clicks. People do business with people, not campaigns or logos or buildings. It’s people who ultimately buy what you sell, and people who tell their friends what their experience was like. All of those people socializing can make a big impact on your bottom line if your company’s name is in the mix!

Building a Captive Audience

It’s relatively easy to create posts and collect fans. It’s not easy to turn those fans into paying clients. How do you turn them into paying clients? Focus on honing a captive audience instead of a target audience.

A captive audience is full of people who know, like and trust you. They are your best source of word-of-mouth marketing because they have their own circle of peers who know, like and trust them. If they tell those friends to use your product or service, that referral carries more weight than all the advertisements they see popping up in their newsfeeds.

That is the return you experience when you have good relationships with people you do business with. How do you measure ROR? Start by tracking who pays attention to your company on a monthly basis—names, not numbers! Who are your notifications coming from? If they are all random, they are unlikely going to share your posts or refer you.

Social media is as much about offline behavior as it is about online behavior. If you don’t pay attention to the people you want to do business with—on or offline—it’s going to be tough to stay in business.

HOMEWORK: Take a look at your client list and ask yourself how well you know them. How well do they know you? Your clients are your best source of referrals, and if you don’t make time to talk to them, help them, thank them and show support for them, you are leaving the door open for your competitor. A quick thank-you email or social network message goes a long way toward building ROR!