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CMOs: your step-by-step guide to proving ROI from social media

Author: Kimberley Brind, Global Social Marketing Leader, Oracle

There is one major hurdle between you and proving your social media strategy plan creates social media ROI – the C-Suite’s attitude towards it.

You have your far-reaching social media strategy in place:

  • Content plans drawn up.
  • Required team members identified.
  • Each relevant social media channel ready to be exploited.
You just need approval from the C-Suite. As a CMO, you already know what they’re going to ask:

“What about social media ROI?”

“It’s not overnight.”

Like inbound marketing, judging the success of your social media strategy takes time. It’s not an overnight quick-win – and the C-Suite needs to realise that investment in social media marketing will offer a genuine ROI, but only in the mid- to long-term.

But there’s a bigger question that you should be asking...

Is social media ROI even the correct term to use in the modern marketing age?

Don’t think ROI, think ‘Impact’

The real measurement is how your social media is impacting on existing customers and prospects and how it moves your business to real time marketing. That risks sounding like nebulous waffle to a CEO, but you can assure them that ‘impact’ is measurable via ‘trackability’ and actually will include traditional ROI values.

There are metrics and conversion data that can be easily tracked via your CRM platform and social media management software:

Who clicked
and how many did.

Popular content
such as eGuides and White Papers, and their effect on click-through rates.

Who began their customer buying journey
because of content on your social media channels.

Data capture rates
driven by your social media. At the heart of any business are customer records that need constant feeding, updating and expanding – social media is a vital ally for capturing customer data and digital behavior.

Month-by-month comparisons
… to show how your social media plans are impacting on new sales, new customers per customer segment and new database entries.

Social media success can be tracked over long periods of time, enabling you to change, tweak and hone your social targeting to improve impact rates even further.

Educate your C-suite about social media.

How the C-suite perceives social media can prove problematic. They need to know that:

...social media should not be seen as a replacement for all other marketing operations.

… nor is social media a separate marketing strategy that should operate within a silo, cut off from other marketing operations.

… social media must work hand-in-hand with existing marketing strategies, complementing and enhancing them

A key task is to ensure you understand why you are deploying a social media strategy in the first place – and that you have clear KPIs.

Return of the Silos

It’s starting to happen again... in the old days, it was the damaging silos between different departments which crippled communications and collaboration. Now there are silos springing up within marketing departments, where one person is titled ‘social media marketer’. S

uch titles can lead to in-fighting over marketing budget allocation between team members, instead of promoting a joined-up approach where social is embraced by the entire marketing department. This can be damaging, so you need to encourage your whole team to view social media as another vital tool for customer engagement.

Be brave in the future.


Gated content.

Marketers themselves are making the mistake of fiercely protecting their social media-driven content, locking away eGuides and other rich content behind barriers-to-entry. Instead, consider giving your content away for free – be assured that this generosity will encourage social media followers to become quality leads in the future.

  • Social media is an ally for your marketing strategy – not a replacement.
  • Judge your ROI in terms of impact, not simply on immediate revenue generation.
  • Social media is trackable; all the answers are sitting there in your CRM platform.
  • Social media is a long term strategy, not an instant hit. It needs time to bed in – or it will fail.
  • Social mustn’t operate in a vacuum; it must be embraced by the entire marketing department.
Benchmark your social media marketing with our Social Champions! Register for our Google Hangout.

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