There are social media metrics, comprehensive reporting programs from Facebook Insights to Google Analytics, and lots of engagement on the networks, but there is only one real way to tell if you are making money.
After the results of a Chief Marketer 2012 Social Marketing Survey was released recently, this Chief Marketing Officer took on the single biggest obstacle that marketers were up in arms about: judging the ROI (return on investment) for social media.
How do we unlock the magic that reveals clear and telling ROI in the green?
You have to go back to traditional marketing and sales methods. The one rule to rule them all is this: do not market on social media networks without having a tangible way to track sales leads and conversions.
Yes, this can be hard for the small business owner that does not have the money to purchase and monitor dozens of 800 phone numbers and call centers. But consider this: as long as you have a cell phone or more than one phone line, you can at least use a Google Voice account [video below] to make a unique phone number for free and link it to one of your lines and track when this unique # is used for a social media exclusive marketing campaign.
If every phone number on your Facebook ads, pages, and posts goes back to a number you do not use for anything else, then you can see exactly how many people called about your services or products from Facebook.
If you only want to see the benefits of your entire online platform, then put the unique phone number on the web site, the LinkedIn account page, the Twitter page, and anywhere else you market digitally.
Another way to track closely your ROI for social media networks is to use coupons and giveaways (there are a number of free ones out there) that are exclusive to each place that you put it. Look and see who loves the 15% off and if they got an email coupon, or a Pinterest coupon.
In this CMO’s opinion you should not be spending time and money (and time is money) marketing in social networks if there is not a tangible way to discern how much profit the digital networks generated.
By R.J. Huneke
Bill Gates, 16. November 2004 at IT-Forum in Copenhagen
Innovation of one's own is key; there is a great lesson to be learned from a short Bill Gates quote that urges business people to not compare themselves to others.
The quote from Mr. Gates is this: "Don't COMPARE yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are . . . INSULTING yourself!"
I love this for a number of reasons that I think are applicable in today's business world.
Firstly, trying to emulate competitors and colleagues for mimicking sake is generally poor practice. That is not to say that studying the successful endeavors of industry leaders and then trying to cut out what you think is their weak points while improving upon many of the high points that you like is also a bad practice, because it is a great way to help improve yourself and your business model.
The gist of what Gates hints at is that you really need to look to yourself, as you are valuable and unique for your own reasons, and you can make your own mark.
Gates spent most of his life being tied to and compared ruthlessly with the ups and downs of Steve Jobs in the computer world, i.e. Apple Vs. Microsoft, business-wise and product-wise. Ultimately Gates seems to not care all that much about any comparison to himself, because he considers his own work too valuable, and with his success you cannot deny he is on to something there.
If you make the sky the limit, because that is what everyone else does, then you've just limited and insulted yourself. Make your own way without limits.
By R.J. Huneke
Go figure, the social media networks are viable in terms of business not just in advertising, but also in providing another outlet for actually connecting people - like the business owner providing a service to a consumer - other than the old school methodology consisting of phone, in-person, or via impersonal email, Internet, television, and radio marketing.
I am not saying that traditional marketing is dead, outdated, or anything but useful for businesses and consumers wishing to find and distribute useful services. The traditional media corporations are flourishing in today’s market, and TV still does what everyone desires: drives flurries of people to pick up the phone or laptop and call or Google your product.
What is becoming more legitimate is the advocacy of spending a good amount of time as a business that is contributing and active in social media networking, and the sales and increasing bottom lines do not lie, folks.
Social Media has three huge places: #1 is Facebook, #2 is Twitter, and #3 is LinkedIn.
These are the huge social media hubs where businesses can go to really connect with an audience and build not just a brand but a community around their services and then get feedback and interaction - valuable engagement - with clients, friends of clients, and potential future clients that will go to your website, your web profiles on other networks.
Because traditional marketing has lambasted our patience by plastering every street corner with billboards, every TV show with myriad commercials, and every home and office phone number with countless soliciting, it is no surprise that many people not only do not mind being reached out to online in the social networks
(where they can voluntarily choose to play along or not), but prefer it.
Facebook provides a great source of information that is rivaling the Google search engine more and more each day, and many people, of all ages, go there to find things they are looking to learn about.
Learning about something, in this commercial society, can and does lead to a consumer acquiring services that are in some way tied to what they are looking into.
Thus, new content, more blogs, articles, and videos are being projected through 2013 and into the future by businesses that wish to give out free knowledge, blast it via social media, and then connect to anyone that is legitimately interested in their services.
This weeds out many of those window shopping, because most that will go further than retweeting a post on Twitter are probably really interested in what your business has to offer and can then conveniently go through the social network they already love to reach out and purchase this.
It is becoming more and more of a social media universe every day!
by R.J. Huneke
What started out solely as a means of shameless self-promotion quickly turned into marketing, and one of the first lessons that this author came to learn was the power of being able to cross promote over numerous platforms seamlessly online.
You do not have to do be a digital media genius (though that helps too) to succeed in promoting your self or your business. What you really need to dedicate is time, energy, and an idea.
Now hold on for a second and let me explain before you tell me to stick social media and blogging where the sun does not dare to shine, because being a business owner does not allow for much in the way of expendable time, energy, or ideas; I know from experience that running a business exhausts time and energy.
But having a burgeoning business of any kind almost always certainly starts with an idea. How do you utilize your idea to make sales conversions? How do you expand upon the idea?
What cross promotion is really all about is coming up with a solid, interesting, or advantageous idea that will benefit the consumer and then getting that message out there in the world, or the marketplace if you will.
This idea can be as simple as the reason your product is better than all others, or why it is different and interesting. Use the ideas that are already associated with your market and write a rant about them in a blog. Great promotion starts with a blog online, because the keywords in the written article (words relevant to the topic) register in the global search engines, the Google’s and the Bing’s, and people can then find your location, your idea, your product when they look for something loosely related to it on the vastly intricate world-wide web of the Internet.
Are you already on Facebook for personal use? If not, get there, but make a business page to be another soapbox for your professional idea/business/product. Copy and paste a link to each blog in that Facebook box that asks you to “post” and then open up a Twitter account. Do not even worry about what you are doing on there or the fact that you do not want to spend time on there. Just post the title and link to your blog there as well.
Talk about the Twitter page and web site blog on Facebook; then do the same with Facebook and the blog on Twitter. Cross promoting your business ideas will resonate online and help people, interested consumers, find what you have to share with them.
By R.J. Huneke
As SINC Sites are public computing labs with software tools, a knowledge base if you will, the SYNC Blog is a public house of educational information providing intrinsic insight into the art of tech, media, and business.