Since the very beginning of social media marketing, there have always been skeptics. While the number of skeptics has certainly decreased over the years, there are still an exorbitant amount of people who doubt the ROI and effectiveness of social media.
Maybe it’s their own fault. Maybe it’s their own impatience. Or maybe we are partially responsible for perpetuating this ideology. Maybe our defensiveness and feeble attempts at making excuses have helped to give this idea oxygen, where it otherwise would have been promptly stomped out.
I’m here to say this: it’s about damn time we stop shying away from the ROI issue in social media amongst ourselves, with our clients, with our readers, and with our colleagues.
I’m not bringing this up just so we are able to reel in more deals or increase our closing rates. I am bringing it to our attention because this principle & ideology is holding us back from helping some of the people who would benefit most from social media: small business owners, freelancers, solo-preneurs, startup founders, and more. Many of whom believe that social media marketing takes more time than it is worth. That the return on investment is just not tangible.
By putting an end to this fallacy by way of facts and a few mindset shifts, these social media doubters will inevitably become fewer and fewer.
Here are the 5 immutable laws of Social Media ROI:
1. Think of social media as a prerequisite as opposed to an asset
Today, social media should be thought of as a prerequisite as opposed to an asset. What I mean by this is because social media is a saturated landscape, simply being on it is no longer an asset or advantage in itself. Instead, creating consistent, valuable social media content is where the advantage lies. Plain and simple.
Remember when having a website for your business was icing on the cake as opposed a necessity? The same thing will be true of social media, and largely, already is. It’s just a necessary part of the work now. It’s not supplementary.
You’ve probably heard people saying how every company today has to be a media company. It’s a content marketing world now. So think of social media (and the rest of your inbound marketing) as a standard piece of your infrastructure and NOT as a bonus package.
In short, doing social media is not enough. To truly reap the benefits, you’ve got to do more and you’ve got to do it well.
2. It’s free
Although organic reach is much lower now on platforms like Facebook — a trend which will more than likely will seep into other platforms as well — social media is still, for the most part, 100% free. Platforms with literally millions of potential clients, colleagues, and competitors — available to everyone for free. Where else is this even close to comparable?
On Medium, kids straight out of journalism school can reasonably compete with New York Times Bestselling authors. On YouTube, high school filmmakers can reasonably compete with Oscar-winning filmmakers. On Instagram, small business owners and freelancers can reasonably compete with world-class photographers.
I am not saying it is easy. What I’m saying is that the hard work and sweat equity is the price you pay for not having to pay a price at all.
It takes hard work. But what good things don’t? If you are unwilling to take the time it takes to build a solid following, create great content, and reap the benefits of truly unprecedented accessibility, then you probably won’t succeed on social media.
3. The cost is lower than other forms of media
For $5 in Facebook Ads, you can potentially reach 1,000+ targeted prospects. This is less money than you would be paying to print out a handful of flyers, less than a billboard, less than a local commercial, and less than a large white mocha at Starbucks.
In addition, you’ll only ever pay if the ad performs as well as it should. If your ad is not resonating with your prospects, then you will only pay for the amount of clicks driven.
4. Think about social media as networking as opposed to selling
There’s a reason why social media networks are called networks. But too often, others tend to think about it like they would a sales pitch when we should be thinking about social media like a cocktail party.
The beautiful thing about social media marketing is that it is scalable. Your Tweet or blog post could potentially be in the hands of 10,000,000 people across the world while you sit on the toilet or take your dog for a walk. It’s amazing.
Think of it in terms of some old school business practices. Do you think the owners of a town cafe ever write down the billable hours spent chatting it up with customers about their problems, about their kids, about their lives?
Do you think the most popular bartender in town has a stopwatch and counts the minutes spent talking to a customer, then calculates the minutes against the amount of tips they received that night?
No. And that’s exactly why the customers keep coming back. Because those people are genuine. They’re real.
Begin thinking about social media as one huge networking event, and the ROI will continue to make more and more sense to anyone.
5. Don’t confuse bad strategy with poor ROI
If you don’t have any business being on a certain platform, then don’t. If you are the owner of a high-rise window cleaning company, then chances are you do not need to be on Musical.ly.
Instead, stick to the one or two platforms that have all these three components (in this order):
- You enjoy using it.
- Your audience is using it.
- The platform is not dying.
If you are pressed for time, then no problem! Just pick one social media platform, and go ALL in on that one. You have the time to do so. We all have the time if we think it’s important enough! And your business is important enough.
For even more ammunition next time you get asked about social media’s ROI, check Gary Vaynerchuk’s What’s the ROI of Your Mother?
It’s time we stop shying away from a question we get asked, either directly or indirectly, regularly in the social media industry. Otherwise, some of those who would benefit the most from social may never believe it’s worth their time.
With a few mindset shifts, a little hard work, and a lot of smart work, you & your clients will see a return on investment more than worth the effort.