I deal with this question daily: what is the ROI of our investment in social media?
It’s a great and valid question without an easy answer.
Social media sites, from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube – don’t live independent of other advertising and marketing initiatives.
You get more traffic to your social media sites by incorporating links to social profiles throughout your existing assets – websites, business cards, email signatures, etc.
In order to really grow your social following you have to invest in paid media such as Facebook ads. You’ll quickly come to the conclusion that social doesn’t stand alone.
(image from The new PEO media model)
If you have an email database, you can give your Facebook page a Like boost when you send out an email with a special offer for Facebook fans (especially if the offer is fan-gated, requiring visitors to Like the page in order to receive the offer).
A recent study showed that blogging has a positive ROI:
Blogging Trumps Traditional Advertising in ROI Head-to-Head (Case Study).
So, where do I recommend spending your ad dollars?
Well, I don’t recommend putting all your dollars into one bucket, but finding the right balance. There’s a minimum spend to make each platform worthwhile. The ROI of each tactic will plateau at some level with diminishing returns. Each tactic plays a different role from awareness to loyalty – all things that must be considered.
You can read studies that show ROI on every marketing and advertising tactic. But, in order to get the best return, you have to consider the role of each tactic as they relate back to your business objectives: selling more stuff at a profit.
Just because Pinterest is growing at 4,000% doesn’t mean that it is right for your brand. But, if you have a female target market – it’s definitely something to investigate since the current audience is 95% female. I’ve recommended Pinterest to several brands.
While I don’t have an easy, succinct answer to the ROI question – I can tell you that social media isn’t free, but it can be measured against objectives. Social requires an investment in paid media to drive traffic, which in turn gets the volume of conversations and engagement to a level that can justify the investment.