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Monday, June 20, 2011

Where is the ROI on Social Media?

Social media campaigns have quickly become a staple in comprehensive marketing strategies.
 
Across North America, many companies are dedicating growing portions of their marketing budgets to social media because they think they are supposed to, they have to or they need to. But it’s not as simple as getting and maintaining an online presence, says Scott Wilson, CEO of RankHigher.ca and Canada’s leading expert on web sales and online marketing using Search Engine Optimization.
 
“Companies are investing all this money in social media, and the one question they are left asking is, ‘Where is the return on my investment?’” Wilson says. “The truth is there usually isn’t one. They are launching these campaigns and getting dismal returns because they aren’t taking a step back and looking at how they are actually using these social media tools.”
 
Perhaps the most popular social media tool is Facebook, but it’s not as simple as just creating a page and hoping people will find it. Even creating a Facebook site that meets the terms of service for the website can be a complex process, but it is worth the time and effort for the benefits it can bring.
 
A Facebook page for your business, including purchasing Facebook ads, needs to be tied to a personal account. Since many business owners will be delegating the maintenance of a Facebook site to a multitude of employees, or even an agency, it is wise to keep this separate from their own personal Facebook account.
 
It’s a good idea to create a new account to then add your business Facebook Page to your new personal account, ensuring it meets Facebook’s terms of service and won’t be arbitrarily removed.
The next step is creating and maintaining a strong brand presence on Facebook. It’s crucial to have all business information fields completed, including the basic information, about your business and likes and interests.
 
Similarly, updating photo albums and upcoming events will help reinforce your business as being engaged with Facebook, which your customers will appreciate. One of your milestones’ should be to generate up to 50 “likes” to your Page. This can be accomplished by reaching out to your network of suppliers, business partners, friends and colleagues. 
 
“Posting engaging discussions and updating your status with relevant announcements provides a more intimate setting for connecting with clients,” Wilson says. “Uploading a video to Facebook is as easy as YouTube and will make your Page more dynamic thereby creating a more enjoyable customer experience.”
 
Start with the basics but if you want to take it to the next level, look at the Facebook Page for Ben & Jerry’s where they utilized a web developer to integrate a customized brand complete with:
 
  • 2.5 million “likes” (and growing)
  • Whirled Map — a world map displaying links to Ben & Jerry’s Global Facebook Pages
  • Ben & Jerry’s Locator, where users locate their nearest B&J parlor
  • Send Ben & Jerry — a tab allowing fans to rank their favorite flavors and send virtual ice-cream tubs to friends
  • Countdown to Free Cone Day — a real-time counter leading up to Free Cone Day
 
When it comes to blogging, the biggest mistake companies make is starting a blog without understanding the resources need to properly populate it, monitor it and make it a living, breathing part of the company.
 
Software such as Wordpress, which can be set up by a skilled web professional in a matter of hours, makes it easy to launch a blog. Not so easy is making sure it remains relevant, updated and interesting.
“Companies fail to understand and allocate the necessary resources to make a blog a successful blog,” Wilson says. “Since happy customers are less likely to blog about you and open blogs offer an opportunity for your unhappy customers to vent, if managed incorrectly blogs can be more hurtful than helpful.”
 
It is important the blog be added to every week, if not more. This will engage consumers and foster constructive dialogue to make the business stronger. To this end, it is important to refrain from responding negatively to criticism. Criticism can be used to not only improve the business, but responding to is properly can also turn an unhappy customer into a loyal supporter of your brand.
“Understand that more often than not, those motivated into action are unhappy,” Wilson says. “It is important that companies seek to understand and fix the problem as transparently as possible.”
 
Burlington, Ont.-based RankHigher.ca is one of Canada’s leading Search Engine Optimization firms. The company, formed in 2004 as eMotion Picture Studios, identifies Internet opportunities, builds search-engine optimized websites, runs Google AdWords campaigns, optimizes Google Places, writes and shoots marketing & training videos and provides a wide range of other new era Internet services for clients such as Speedy Automotive, Roto-Rooter, Cadbury, Natrel, Godiva Chocolates and Gatorade.
 
For more information, email Ashley Hogan at ahogan@enterprisecanada.com.

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