Return on Investment!
In our social life (offline) we have always interacted with people, spent time with like minded individuals, and maintained selfless relations. But, online world is a different ball game. We interact, mingle, network, and follow people with two motives: Returns, and Referrals!
A follower, friend, acquaintance, or a like-minded profile needs to be cared about, tolerated, conversed with, flattered, and greeted by automated responses until he/she adds value to this concept of RoI. On the other hand, we have people and profiles who would take the same actions, but, for a greater cause, i.e. Relationship building. A simple Hi, Hello, or Nice talking to you makes no harm. An automated response does. It is painful to follow or invite a well-known/knowledgeable person and get an inhuman/ impersonated reply. We still follow the profile, but I am unsure of the value created in such a relation, and the Return He/She would get in such an instance.
Returns would definitely be possible if the marketer takes effort to build a comprehensive plan to engage, converse, reply promptly, solve problems, attend to every question, and share information that is required by every possible user. Uniformity of information is an essential element for optimizing RoI. The data, information, offerings, campaigns, promotional efforts, and STP strategies must be uniform across platforms, sites, applications, blogs, forums, and employee representations. WoM, Buzz, Viral, Sentiments also play a vital role in optimizing the RoI. Consumer satisfaction translates into higher returns, and a single instance of dissatisfaction could also have disastrous effects on the overall campaign. Online reputation, in such cases, becomes the most important part of crisis management strategies.
Social Media RoI is not a tactic or a short term goal. It is more of a strategic objective visualized by the top management. Online presence is quintessential in the contemporary scheme of things for a marketer, but Social Media RoI is still a dream rather than reality. Few products, services, and concepts are getting matured in this field, but most of the offerings are finding it difficult to measure, or even estimate their goals. hence, most of the ventures are trying to improve their follower base rather than getting any returns from it. Online marketing is here to stay, and social media has only one way ahead, i.e GROWTH! Hence, it makes sense for companies to build a considerable user base, and engage with them on a regular basis, in order to understand their loyalties, sentiments, and capture the brand's image, which would, in turn, help in GAP Analysis to a large extent. Such important knowledge would help in formulating online strategies that would enhance the marketing effectiveness in the long run, and ensure that returns are steady, upward, positive, as well as sustainable.
All in all, I feel it is essential to invest moderately in social media, build a fan base, interact, engage, and give value to the customers - even potential customers - and persevere to inject the feel good factor amongst the Internet users, so that once returns are a reality, they are sustainable, measurable, and real.
Questions arising in the context of RoI:
- Why is it important to measure RoI?
- Isn't social media an informal network, then why to wait for returns?
- Is it good to just sell, sell, and sell more?
- Can social media be a place just to share information, take feedback, and spread the goodness?
- Why do we have to monetize every relation?
- Is Social media markeing a channel to make money or a place to just keep the conversations going on, and content sharing?
- How to decide the budgetary requirements of social media?
- What is the ideal timeframe to break-even (RoI on social media)?
- Can a profitable company afford to suffer losses on its investments in Social media?
- If a company's Social Media RoI is in the Red, do we consider its marketing effort to be a failure?
- Is anyone listening the consumers? Or just pushing for sales?
This article is my perspective on the Buzz around Social Media RoI, and I would like readers to comment, contradict, analyze, and provide feedback to improve my articles in the future.