Although many Caribbean businesses have established social networks, rarely do they directly improve the business’ bottom line. Here are five tips that could assist.
In a Caribbean newspapers last week, an observation was made that although some Caribbean businesses have hundreds of thousands of followers on their social networks, very rarely is the impact of those followers reflected in increased sales (Source: Jamaica Observer). This remark is also likely to be true for micro, small and medium-sized businesses that have established a presence on one or more social networks, with the expectation that they will realise greater sales, which has not (yet) come to fruition.
The article also noted that most firms do not speak about their social media efforts in terms of “return on investment” (ROI):
So [the store] spent US$300 to get US$48,000 worth of duty-free sales over the carnival period. That is what advertisers are looking for — the return on investment,” he stated. “We have got to get past the stage where you say you have 500 likes on Facebook. How are those likes translated to sales…
(Source: Jamaica Observer)
However, it must be highlighted that for all intents and purposes, a social media campaign’s ROI can only be measured at the end of the exercise – to describe the degree of success that has been realised. In order to increase the chance of success, i.e. a high ROI, it is crucial that the business is prepared properly before a campaign is implemented. Below are five keys tips that will improve a business’ ROI from social media.
1. Ensure social media strategy is properly aligned with corporate strategy
Although a business might have a corporate strategy and clear goals it wishes to achieve, frequently, its market strategy and by extension, its social media strategy, are not properly aligned to that overarching framework. Furthermore, and in many instances, the approach to developing a social media strategy is not particularly rigorous. Those responsible for establishing and/or managing the organisation’s social media presence are usually keen to build social networks on popular platforms – in order to be able to boast of the number of followers – but matters related to the effectiveness of those platforms towards the corporate strategy and goals tend to be overlooked.
When the corporate goals and strategy are the focal points when developing a social media strategy, it tends to lead to a more considered approach when preparing the latter. When a well prepared social media strategy is in place, it provides an excellent foundation and reference point for the work that is to follow.
2. Clearly define metrics
Following from development of the social media strategy and the goals that it must achieve, it is necessary to identify specific business metrics that ought to be satisfied, and from a social media perspective, the key performance indicators (KPIs) that would point to those metrics. The determination of those metrics and KPIs will be critical to properly measure the performance of a particular campaign or initiative, and would most likely influence the platforms and activities that are implemented.
It is important to emphasise that once the metrics and KPIs have been established, it may be necessary to revisit the social media strategy to ensure that it is aligned with the expressed priorities, and adjust accordingly. Thereafter a plan can be prepared.
3. Choose platforms well
Social networks come in many flavours to achieve different goals. It is therefore essential that they are clearly understood, and careful consideration given to whether or not, or the extent to which, they individually, and collectively, will further the organisation’s goals. The infographic below summarises key points of some of the popular social networking platforms.
However, it is emphasised that the infographic is a guide: it is a bit dated (April 2014), and it still crucial to thoroughly research the platforms that have been shortlisted to ensure they will support the strategies and plans that have been put in place. Further, it is also important to re-examine the strategy, plan and goals against the platforms that are being selected, and if necessary recalibrate them accordingly.
4. ACT carefully and conscientiously
Almost regardless of the goals that have been established, and according to The Zen of Social Media Marketing, successful online marketing typically comprises the following three components, abbreviated ACT:
- Attract – attracting traffic to one’s website
- Convert – converting a visitor to the site into a consumer or a customer
- Transform – transforming “past and present successes into magnetic forces of attraction”.
As indicated in the previous point, some social media platforms would be better than others to realise ACT. Further the type of content, along with matters related to frequency, duration, available resources, among other things, would be critical considerations when developing and implementing campaigns in order to ACT successfully.
5. Properly track campaigns and success
Finally, and prior to implementing a campaign, the means to track the KPIs – in order ultimately to speak about ROI – ought to be established and incorporated into the campaign accordingly. Ideally, the tracking systems ought to provide detailed and timely data, to facilitate analysis and decision making. Although free services might be available, they might provide limited detail. It is thus important not to skimp on this element, in light of all of the work and resources that would have been expended to get to this point.
Having said this, it also crucial for regular monitoring is established. Although it may be ill-advised to be constantly tweaking the campaign if the desired outputs are not immediately realised, trends can be tracked and as appropriate, adjustments can be done.