“ROI” has been an ever-present buzzword in social media marketing for years. Everyone wants to know: “How much is a fan worth?” “How much money will each follower spend?” “How are my social media efforts helping my brand sell more products?”
These are important questions, but not the only way to look at the ROI of your social media marketing initiatives. Especially for B2B companies, trying to sell your product or service on Facebook or Twitter may not be those most effective way to leverage social media. Sometimes, using social media as a research tool to arm your sales team with valuable information can provide a more lucrative opportunity.
Here’s what we mean: In the past, we were tasked with helping an outsourcing company use social media to grow their client base and, ultimately, their bottom line. This specific B2B organization was one that provided outsourced call center solutions to universities for their Admissions, Registrar, and Financial Aid offices. After careful, in-depth online research, we decided that trying to connect with the decision-makers in these departments via social networks was not the best use of social media for this particular company. What we did discover was thousands of conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and in forums where frustrated students, prospective students, and parents were venting about horrible customer service when trying to contact a school’s Admissions office, or ridiculous wait times to simply ask a question about financial aid or registration.
That’s when we realized that the best way to help this company leverage social media was through research. By regularly scanning the web and compiling a list of complaints by university, we were able to provide their sales team with some serious ammunition for signing new clients. Rather than sticking to the usual sales call or meeting script about how the company can help universities save time, money, and resources, members of the sales team were actually able to say “Hey, this is what your students are saying about your Admissions office, and it doesn’t look good. Here’s how we can fix these things.”
Though every brand may not benefit from having a Facebook presence or Twitter account, we’ve yet to find a company that we can’t help to leverage social media in some way. What are some other interesting uses of social media you’ve heard or read about?