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Think You Can’t Measure the Value of Social Media? Think Again.

About a month ago, I had an identity crisis. I am an account manager at a firm that does social media marketing for small businesses, and I had all but tweeted myself into burnout.

I swear, I would think, drowning amidst Google Alerts and the ever-updating Hootsuite feeds, if I have to cleverly craft one more status update … It’s a wonder one of our clients didn’t end up “getting’ slizzard” with the Red Cross. Even for people that love social media, the feeling of being trapped in a bottomless pit can get overwhelming.

In the end, a break wasn’t even what I needed — I just needed to know there was a point to the hours and hours of work. While I had noticed great uptakes in engagement with our accounts, I had no way of knowing whether the comments and follower counts were actually doing anything. Was there a social side to social media?

I asked one of our clients, a wedding venue, if I could write a case study on our work. “Did we increase sales?” I asked with the aggressive urgency of an investigative reporter. “If not sales, then business leads? How has business changed since you started working with us?”

The results shocked me. In nine short months, business leads and online requests for more information about the client increased 600 percent. Actual bookings increased by 1,000 percent. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I ended the phone call and smiled deeply as I breathed a sigh of validation. My hard work was worth it, oh so very worth it.

Why did it work?

1,000 percent is obviously an almost surreal number, and admittedly this is partly due to the fact that the client had not been marketing itself previously. Still, what business wouldn’t kill for these results in just nine months?

It’s also interesting to note that the client does not spend money on any form of marketing outside social media, and our firm does not cheat. We didn’t Beverly Hillbilly our way to success — this wasn’t luck. We also don’t engage in this auto-follow or funny business. The results came organically, and while I’d love to take the glory for my brilliantly crafted tweets and statuses, much of the credit goes to our client.

Why? The client came to us with goals. Business goals, not social media goals: increase sales, increase business leads, and rebrand away from the weddings-only clientele. This allowed us to form a strategy to meet those goals. While I had to proactively seek the proof of results, I always knew what to post, why we were posting it and what themes to play up each week.

Curious, and with a new found confidence in social media ROI, I sought out other companies that achieved bottom line results with purely social media marketing. Very quickly I found Freshfully, an Alabama-based CSA. I contacted their CMO, asking for trade secrets. Within 30 seconds, I got my answer:

“Before we do anything,” said the CMO, “we write down our goals.”

The déjà vu was uncanny.

What does this mean for you?

Marketing, advertising, PR, customer service. These C-suite elements have two things in common:

1)      Their functions can all be accomplished extremely well with social media

2)      They’re pointless if they don’t contribute to business bottom lines.

No marketer or corporate communication officer would report to his CEO that “more people know about our company, but we’re not sure what that means.”

These execs prove their worth with revenue. There are other things, such as public sentiment, but any good marketing officer knows that his strategies exist solely to support the goals of the business. It’s the same with social media.

Want to get 500 followers? Who cares? Want to get 500 followers, ask those followers what they want to see in a product, create that product, and then persuade those followers to purchase the product? Now we’re talking.

What are your goals for social media? If you can’t list them out right now, you’ve got some time to spend at a drawing board.

Are you looking for more information on how to maximize your business and sales potential through social media? Check out our 3-day Social Media Boot Camp or click here to receive more information on all of our marketing training and services.

About the author:  Joseph Havey is the Director of Social Media for the Triangle-based Shelten Media, LLC, a start-up company specializing in social media marketing. He is a member of N.C. State’s PRSSA chapter, and writes for the school newspaper, Technician. In his free time, he trains for triathlons. 


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