3 Ways to Measure and Boost the ROI of Social Networking
The question of return on investment (ROI) naturally comes up anytime someone is suggesting you invest time and resources into a new marketing strategy or tactic.
So why should it be any different for social networking?
Well, there are a few reasons.
For one, social networking is not a mere marketing strategy and to see it as such is to misunderstand it – and it’s ultimate value as an investment.
Social networking is a means for communicating with people and extending relationships, the returns of which are rich and varied, including enhancement of reputation and trust, growth in audience and referrals, retention and engagement with existing clients, and of course, increased sales and new business.
Thus, when setting out to invest time and resources in social networking, it makes sense to have a set of relevant criteria that you intend to use to measure your “return” – not just how much new business did I generate.
Here are some suggestions for defining and measuring ROI from your investment of time and energy in social networking:
1. Focus on people that matter to your business
Make a list of clients and prospects you want to be on the radar with. Be specific and name names. Focus on valuable clients that are in your A group or friends of those A clients that you want to bring into your sphere of influence. If you’re not connected with them already, make sure you connect on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter.
Don’t make excuses by telling yourself most of your top clients aren’t active online. Even if 20% of your top clients are active online and you’re not paying attention to them – someone else probably is.
There’s lots of ROI associated with taking actions to add value and keep you top of mind with your clients that are spending time online. Look for ways to measure retention of existing clients and introductions to prospective new clients as part of your ROI.
2. Develop new COIs
Centres of influence (COIs) are a key part of any successful advisor’s networking mix because they act as catalysts, introducing you to relationships and opportunities of great value to your business.
Nurture online relationships with your COIs the same way you focus on clients and prospects. Make sure you are connected to your COIs on LinkedIn and other social networks and pay attention to them. Each of your COIs has a valuable network within which there may be other valuable COIs.
When measuring your return, ask yourself how many new COIs you connected with and began nurturing as a result of social networking.
3. Track engagement and reach
Social networking is a long-term play. You’re building an audience, not merely a lead funnel. It’s a different way of thinking.
A lead funnel approach has you focusing on the most qualified leads and ignoring the rest. With an audience approach, you want to grow the size and reach of your audience because within that group are some highly qualified leads, some poorly qualified leads and some people who might never be leads – but they may be a referral source to a valuable lead.
Think like a media company when measuring ROI. Look for growth in your audience (more followers), your reach (more influential followers) and the engagement level with your content (more clicks, shares, replies, comments, etc.).
Advisors Will Be Extinct in 5 Years Unless…
I’ve had financial advisors for more than 40 years. Not once in those years have I called my advisor to find out what stock/funds I should buy or sell. But I have called to find out where I should get my first mortgage, when to sell my house, or how much income I could get in retirement.
In short -- and I think I’m pretty typical – I was looking for financial advice, as it relates to my life.
Here’s the disconnect, what most advisors do is simply manage their clients’ assets. They determine what to buy, and what to sell, they think about risk management, about growing their practice by finding new clients and about getting paid.
Historically that has been the business model. But as more women take control over financial assets, they, like me, will be looking for a different experience. And unless the financial community is willing to change ….. advisors, as they are today will be extinct in five years.
Advisors who want to survive will have to do a lot more than just manage money – they will have to provide genuine “advice”. That means doing what’s right for the client, not pushing product and pretending it’s advice.
Women especially, but all investors generally, are becoming more and more cynical. They says, “If I want advice about reducing my debt, that’s what I want and not ‘here’s more debt’ because that’s what my advisor gets paid for! And if saving taxes is what I want then saving taxes should take precedent over selling me a product.”
You may be thinking that spending your time providing advice isn’t lucrative but the reality is that in the long run – it pays off in spades. The advisors who take the time to build real relationships with clients, who provide advice as it relates to their clients’ lives, even when there is no immediate financial benefit to themselves, those who don’t simply push product – are the ones who over time have the most successful practices.
Generally women understand and value service, but they will say, “If I’m paying, I want to know what I’m paying for: Is it for returns? Is it for advice? Is it for administration? I want to know. Then I can make up my mind what’s worth it and what isn’t.”
Investing is becoming a commoditized business and technology is replacing research that no one else can find. Today the average advisor is hard pressed to consistently beat the markets, and with women emerging as the client of the future, unless they start providing real advice, their jobs will likely be extinct in five years.
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