2011 : era of the social media ROI
The social media ROI is the Holy Grail of any social media marketers. Two recent studies tried to measure the value of a fan on Facebook: Vitrue and Syncapse. Vitrue estimates it at $3,60 whereas Syncapse gives a $136,38 value. The methodologies are very different, but which one we need to follow ?
This is the gap media agencies can fill, in suggesting a new measurement system based on our brand, customers and media knowledge; to have a accurate understanding of social media ROI and the larger effectiveness of social.
How do we create that new system ?
Facebook and Twitter have already developed metrics based on paid media campaigns. But it’s still difficult to measure the total success of earned media, engagement and a fortiori the financial and media value of it. Nothing is stable because the monetization of social platforms is new and they create new advertising products several times a year.
In 2009, an ad on Facebook generated an average 0.063% CTR, $0.27 CPC and $0.17 CPM. In 2010, the CTR was to 0.051%, $0.49 CPC and $0.25 CPM.
But now, adding the owned (updates, content…) and the earned media (feedback from fans, comments, user generated content…) and the CTR is higher, sometimes 2 or 3 times powerful. It’s logical that the value-added into social platforms is the social part: interaction between fans and brands, between friends and friends and brands.
But the average CTR of Facebook looks set to increase in Q2 and Q3 2011 thanks to the launch of “Facebook deals”. First, because it’s a new concept so it will be cheaper. And secondly, because it’s properly “social advertising”.
Take Mazda uses of Facebook deals in the UK for instance. They are giving 20% voucher on a specific model of car if people “check–in” using “Facebook places”. They have already claimed a huge sales increase.
Few brands have already measured their social ROI with accuracy using different social approaches:
Dell was the first one to do it on Twitter. They claimed $3 million in sales generated through their Outlet Twitter feed. It’s an effective monetary example, but not a model of engagement. Dell used this Twitter channel to sell and broadcast, not to have a conversation with their customers.
Old Spice claimed 107% increase in sales after the question answers session on YouTube and Twitter, after one month. Without the aid of extra traffic drivers; purely leveraging the audience hooked by the charm of the initial advertising.
Coca Cola was the first brand to use “Promoted trend” on Twitter and they reported 86 million impressions in 24 hours and an engagement rate of 6%. Virgin America in the meantime used “Promoted tweets”. The day of the launch of the campaign, the airline reported its 5th highest sales day ever made as well as $10 million in term of press value due to retweets and comments from customers.
For each of those examples, the ROI of social could have only been measured after the campaign. It was a risk to take, that’s why they can’t be taken as a reference. For example, Dell tried to replicate the Old Spice campaign without any success gathering negative press in the process.
How as a media agency can we give strong social KPI and guarantee some ROI to our clients?
There are three crucial pieces of data to understand before building metrics. First, is listening. Buzz monitoring gives strong information about the brand in the digital sphere (what people are saying about a brand, what is the sentiment behind, where they are talking, who are the influencers and the detractors, comparison with competitors, scale of community…). Not only a social media strategy but a marketing strategy can be built from an early social audit.
These insights need to be brought into line with the clients objectives. The measurement of the ROI and the KPI will be different dependent on the objectives being brand/product awareness, sales increase or customer service.
Awareness : Volume of mentions will be the KPI and the ROI will be the cost per impression and the free media value for a blogger outreach campaign.
Sales: Increase of sales (KPI), Cost per action (ROI)
Customer service: Sentiment (KPI), Cost per engagement (ROI)
Those two steps are essential to have an idea of the value of a social media strategy, but they need to be benchmarked against similar competitors activity. Your success is only relevant against competitor products.
Benchmark needs to be clearly defined because we can’t benchmark digital and social for instance if the objectives are different.
So, where are we ?
It is now possible to give an estimated ROI for a lot of social platforms when we use paid advertisement. We are getting even closer in comparing brands, campaign, products…
There are parameters that can be monitored but can’t be measured in financial terms: the sentiment and the volume.
Social media is a new professional environment that media, advertisement, PR and creative agencies tried to embrace with their own tools. Each discipline will have their own way of measuring social ROI based on their heritage, infrastructure and their personal experience.
Imagine asking a financial trader if he can predict the outcome of 100% of his investments. There will always be unquantifiable elements. The best he can do is preparing himself based on his experiences.
What is the true value of a fan? Anyone who tries to so far is kidding his clients and himself.
To be continued …