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I watched a video today for social media marketers like myself and it was all about how to respond to the question are clients often ask… ‘What is the ROI of my social media’. Well, lets narrow that down a little bit. Are we talking about the ROI of organic content and connections? Or are we talking about the ROI of content that is generating clicks to websites with ads on social media? Or something else?

It’s indeed a loaded question, and it’s one that isn’t really fair. I don’t say it’s unfair because I can’t prove statistics, I say it’s unfair because the value of organic social media content is HUGE, but for some reason in the minds of business owners (especially our target customer – the small business owner), they don’t seem to make the connection to parallel marketing activities.

You can search online (Google is my best friend too!) and find a boatload of articles talking about the ROI of social media. But if you really dig deep, you will notice one commonality – they are all talking about measuring ROI when linking content to some kind of lead gen activity or landing page where you convert sales. Your organic social media content, the content that is meant to provide value to your clients (just like this post), is not meant to convert in to sales. Remember the quote ‘no one likes to be sold but everybody likes to buy’? You have to think of this when you are promoting yourself on social media.

It’s not an overnight thing! If you want to create leads upon leads, then you can certainly enlist the assistance of someone who specializes in social media ADVERTISING. BUT – here’s a big caveat… leads that come from social media ads for a service (products can be a little different) are notoriously hard to close. These are generally people who are just poking around, looking for information. They click on your ad that says ‘learn more’ to get some free download or consultation. If you provide them with enough value over time, and if they are being shown your brand and authority consistently, then guess what, they WILL think of you when they are ready to make that purchase decision. But before then, what’s the point? I know first hand from experimenting with more money than I care to admit that the closing ratio of these leads is ridiculously low. But the closing ratio of referrals and warm leads from other networking sources? Higher! Couple that with a referral that can look at your social channels and online review and see how active you are online? Now you have a recipe for an engaged new customer!

But lets get back to that ROI question. Can you really prove a return on content? In my opinion, no. Others may disagree, but we have 5 years of client data that indicates otherwise. I will say however, that we retain the vast majority of our clients because they recognize the value that this consistent branded strategy brings to their business. If it wasn’t doing anything for their business, we wouldn’t have people paying $500-$1500/month for branded social media content.

Here’s another thing to consider – what CAN you measure? Lets compare social media marketing (content) to a billboard ad, or even a radio ad. I used to use the newspaper comparison, but I don’t think many are going that route anymore anyways 😉 When you purchase an ad on a radio station or a billboard, you are quoted based upon ‘estimates’ impressions (or in other words ‘reach’). It’s how many ‘listeners’ they have, or how much traffic may or may not pass by that particular billboard. Companies happily spend tens of thousands of dollars on these ads with little to no proof of it working. They might be able to track some leads if they are sending traffic to a specific page used only for that particular ad, but they will never know exactly how many people heard their ads or drove past their billboard. THIS my friends is where social media absolutely crushes these older methods. EVEN WITH ORGANIC SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT, we can see EXACTLY how many people were reached. We can see data on what gender they are, how old they are, where they live, and even what their interests are! Would you get that with these other forms of advertising? I think you know the answer to that one 🙂 We have clients spending as little as $500/month on content that is branded being posted to multiple social media channels getting 10,000 people reached and up. These clients have very little presence to start with and we are still able to achieve these numbers.

Combine this content strategy with some strategic Facebook boosting and the results get even more impressive! We wrapped up helping a community event this summer where we were able to post a few times per week in the 2 months leading up to the event. We then took a small ad budget $1000 over 4 weeks to boost the main post that needed attention. The results? The event was packed as usual no doubt because of it’s popularity, but the social media played a massive role in getting people interested and engaged in the event. For the 3rd year in a row, the campaign had a reach over over a quarter million!

I tend to ramble when it comes to explaining why you can’t prove the ROI on content when it comes to social media, but I want to leave you with this question…

What is the value of 1000-10,000 views on your content each week or month?