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The Importance of Social Media Marketing: Looking Beyond the ROI

Anyone still struggling to decide if their business should be actively marketing on social media is, lets face it, pretty late to the game at this point. Of course every business should have a social media strategy in place. The competition has likely already been marketing through social media and these days, their customers expect to easily find them throughout the growing number of social media profiles.

Social media is more than just ‘Likes’ and ‘Tweets’ these days, as it has quickly evolved into an integral role in almost every business’s sales cycle. It is a very powerful tool in the right hands, but it can still be an effective means of advertising with even basic attention.  Imagine taking the most important metrics of every popular advertising medium over the last few decades (reach, frequency, engagement, direct response, tracking, etc..) then rolling it into one shiny little package and you’ll get social media: a targeted campaign with quantifiable metrics through a qualitative approach.

The hesitations we as an agency encounter most often are from those who can’t quite see the direct link between social media marketing and their ROI. A valid concern, mainly because directly driving revenue will only be a small portion of the true value of a properly managed social media program. Below we’ve put together a few points on the value of social media marketing beyond the traditional expectations of an advertising medium:

1. It’s where your audience is

Everyone who is at all comfortable with the Internet uses social media these days. Facebook alone has over 1.23 billion active users worldwide, and in the US Facebook has over 128 million active users every day. The average user spends about 22 minutes on Facebook per visit, far higher than most websites that typically average just a minute or two. Not only is your audience on social media, they’re attentive too.

2. Social Media is now part of the user process

Once upon a time a user would check out your website then make the decision to contact you for more information. That process has now evolved to include social media. Most users will then follow up that website visit with a visit to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc account to learn more about your company, and to find information/pictures/opinions that may not be included on a website. This added step in the ‘sales cycle’ provides a deeper look for the customer, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked by any business.

3. One of the best mobile advertising platforms available

The percentage of mobile users online is growing month by month, but we’ve found that users simply do not spend as much time on a website through their mobile device as they do their desktop computer. Facebook, however, is very conducive to mobile activity as 78% of its US daily visitors (128mil) are on a mobile device. Social media networks have spent millions to develop mobile friendly platforms that are constantly evolving for the user experience. Businesses absolutely need to be taking advantage of these platforms as they are one of the easiest ways to stay relevant in this huge mobile community.

4. Social media develops its own conversation

A customer can learn nearly everything about your business while interacting with employees and other customers without ever actually visiting your site. Social media develops and nurtures a conversation through its follower base and Reach, giving customers a deeper look into your business culture. Click throughs to your website are no longer the key goal, it’s now important to know how many people are interacting and talking about you socially, and how often are they doing it.

5. Reputation Management, Engagement & Endorsements

When a business has a strong social media program, it controls the message of the brand. However when a business does not engage in social media, the user’s search engine results page can be filled with pages created by other people for that business.. for better or worse (think disgruntled employees or the occasional dissatisfied customer). The message is no longer controlled by the business but is now in the hands of someone else. Engaging in social media allows you to control the information that is presented to the users in the format that you feel is important. If a business is not controlling the message and conversation about its brand through social media profiles, then someone else will be.

6. Social Media isn’t just about search engine boosts

While a strong social media program can serve as authority signals to search engine algorithms and individual posts may get better placement in search engine rankings, the true value of social media has evolved beyond search engine rankings. As mentioned above, social media develops and nurtures its own traffic (and conversation) for the business. Social media’s SEO benefit is a drop in the bucket compared to the impressions, interaction and overall reach that a properly managed campaign can provide.

The benefits of social media are deep, well beyond pure sales and direct revenue as CPA, CPL and Conversion Rate are no longer the clearest factors when measuring ROI. Social media marketing has changed how we advertise, but it is still in its early stages and will be around for quite some time to come, so being late to the game doesn’t mean that you are TOO late to get started. Specific social networks will always come and go over the years, and technology will be forever shifting, but the fact is that our lives are getting more and more integrated digitally and businesses need to embrace this social evolution.