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.).
Why Lasting Change Is Hard
Before we had any children, my wife and I lived in the heart of Dallas. One day, on our way back to our house, we were driving down Skillman Avenue when we were caught in a sudden torrential downpour.
The rain was coming down incredibly hard, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the storm drains were equipped to handle that much water. Instead, the road itself filled with water faster than we could have anticipated. Quickly, the water rose up the side of our car. Trying not to panic, we realized that we could not continue and would need to turn around and get to higher ground.
Water rising up the side of your car door is the kind of roadblock you might not expect to encounter, but when you do, it’s formidable. We couldn’t drive through it or even around it. We had to deal with it quickly or face serious consequences.
When we’re trying to implement change in our own lives, it’s important to identify and plan for common roadblocks to lasting change.
The first and, in my opinion, most important roadblock to lasting change is not addressing the real issue.
Let’s say you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. You’re annoyed by feeling sick but your throat really hurts, so you get up and spray a little Chloraseptic in your mouth and drift off to sleep. When you wake up the next day, you still have a sore throat, so you pop in a cough drop and go about your day.
The change you’re making – using a numbing agent – might work if you’ve only got a cold, but if it’s strep throat, you’re not addressing the real problem. Only an antibiotic will cure what ails you, even if Chloraseptic will keep the pain at bay for a while.
Just like how more information is needed to diagnose your sore throat than one feeling, problems you encounter in your life or business require diagnostics, too. Figuring out the real problem – not just your most apparent needs – requires some introspection and a little bit of time.
Here are eight questions to ask when you need to discover the root cause, courtesy of MindTools.com:
- What do you see happening?
- What are the specific symptoms?
- What proof do you have that the problem exists?
- How long has the problem existed?
- What is the impact of the problem?
- What sequence of events leads to the problem?
- What conditions allow the problem to occur?
- What other problems surround the occurrence of the central problem?
Once you have your answers to these key questions, you can’t stop there. Your vantage point is skewed from your own perspective. You’re going to want to ask someone else to evaluate the problem at hand with the same questions and then compare your answers.
If you and all of the partners at your firm have similar answers, you’ll know you’re on the right track. If you wind up with wildly different ideas, I suggest seeking the advice of someone outside your organization. Fresh eyes can make all the difference in understanding a problem.
I often talk about being ‘too close’ to understand. You’ve probably heard the illustration about a group of people standing by an elephant with blindfolds on, trying to describe what they’re experiencing. Depending on what part of the elephant you’re next to, you’re going to have different observations.
But someone outside of that elephant’s cage can clearly identify the elephant.
The first key to making a lasting change is to make sure you’ve addressed the real problem and are looking for authentic change.
Next time, we’ll address the second major roadblock to creating last change.
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