Ask a Social Media Director #9: The R.O.I. Conundrum Edition
By: Tom Garruto, Director of Operations, The Social Edge
March 12, 2020
Hello, Social Shake-Up! Happy to be back here again to answer your questions on social strategy. I hope you’ll come see me at The Social Shake-Up Show on May 12 to talk about social media measurement. Here goes…
What’s your top advice for getting ROI on social media advertising?
-I’m Not Al-ROI-ght
Oh, I don’t think many people want to touch this one with a ten-foot pole, but I will. And I expect that social media managers will rejoice but clients may resist this answer.
The term “ROI” sends shivers down the backs of most social media managers. Rivaled only by, “How many followers did we gain?” (my thoughts are best saved for another column on this one), the most likely question you’ll hear when on-boarding a new client or pitching a campaign internally is, “How will we measure ROI?” *cringe!*
There are some situations where this question is entirely appropriate. My company, The Social Edge, often works on campaigns to sell tickets to cinema screenings of theater productions. The production is already assumed to be widely known and we need to find the audience that knows the piece and sell tickets directly to them through social media advertising. The ROI here is pretty easy to assess—on average, how much did you spend on advertising to sell a ticket? Easy.
The problem I see a lot is that companies with broader campaigns want to ask the question of ROI and hear the same kind of response. In the hierarchy of effects in advertising—and especially if the campaign is for a product or organization that consumers aren’t yet familiar with—advertisements need to lead a potential customer through the stages of awareness, knowledge, liking, preference and conviction before they make the purchase, which can be way further down the line from that first advertisement they originally saw.
With that in mind, how do you measure the customer’s awareness, knowledge, and liking of a brand? You can point to metrics like reach, positive engagement, shares, tags of the brand in posts and have the marketing department include questions in their own research on awareness and opinion of the brand. There are many other dimensions aside from revenue that help asses ROI. Your job is to help shift perceptions internally on how that return is measured.
Where do you gather inspiration or stay on top of social media trends? Any social media accounts that you love or feel are best in class?
-Your BTFL (Best Trend For Life)
This is a bit like asking my Italian grandmother what’s in her “Sunday Sauce,” but I’ll share as much as I can without giving the whole recipe away.
You must be present to observe any new trends in action, so I think it’s essential to have some personal presence, no matter how small, on each of the major social platforms. I was an observer on Tik Tok for months before I posted my first video. I took the time to sense the trends and watch how others were using the platform before I dove in myself. And it paid off—my first video now has over 700k views. I wouldn’t have known how to make that first step without getting an entrenched sense of the platform first. (Side-note: follow me.)
For your inspiration arsenal, there are many (free!) tools at your disposal, whether you’re looking for viral cultural trends to write about or want to keep up with what the platforms themselves are doing.
- CrowdTangle: CrowdTangle has been at the core of our content inspiration for years, back before it was snatched up by Facebook. You can create lists of similar social accounts and see what content has been over-performing for them.
- Google Alerts: I love a Google Alert and I find that not enough social managers utilize them. Create a list of phrases, people, and topics that are relevant to your brand and set a Google Alert for each. Not only will you be served fresh—and relevant—inspiration daily, but it’s also a great way to stay in the know for watercooler chat. If you’re working with clients, as I do, it’s also a great way to get to know their organization better by keeping up with news about the organization and its key figures.
- Newsletters: No matter your industry, I promise you “there’s a newsletter for that.” Some of my daily faves are Medium (where you can tailor your interests), Internet Brunch, Fast Company, and Broadway Briefing. Of course, these will be very specific to the kind of work your organization is doing.
For platform trends:
- The platforms themselves: For feature updates and to get a sense of a platform’s current focus, go straight to the source. Facebook Newsroom is good. Be sure to follow key figures from platforms, like Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, to see what features might be coming down the pike. If you can get a dedicated rep for your account on each platform, even better.
- Newsletters: My good friend, Newsletters, at it again. Some great newsletters on digital trends to check out are Social Media Today, Digiday, and, of course, What’s Shakin’.
- Your social management network: OK, this one is major, and can’t be stressed enough! Build your inner circle of social media managers and stay in contact with them regularly. Update them on what you’re seeing on social and ask for their insights. They often have insider experiences and connections you may not. What’s Shakin’ regular Justin Buchbinder is in my inner circle and it’s a great way to keep tabs on the industry outside of your organization’s little bubble.
There are too many social accounts I love to list them all here, but I tend to gravitate toward accounts that deliver a consistent experience. In that sense, I personally love Magnolia Bakery on Instagram and Barry Brandon on TikTok. Both accounts stop me mid-scroll and put a smile on my face. For more newsy accounts that are on top of (and creating) social trends, New York Magazine is doing a stellar job on Instagram.
How can I train interns and junior employees to take on part of the workload and scheduling and monitoring tools?
-Need Directions to the ‘Train’ Station
In short, patience and SOPs!
By the time we realize we need another hand on deck, the current staff is already stretched thin with a lot on their plates. When that new junior position is finally brought on, it can be really difficult to figure out how to slow down the momentum and dedicate the appropriate consideration and time to train the new hire properly. But it is *essential* to set your new hires up for success. Help them help you.
As soon as you get the inkling that you may need to bring someone on to help with more junior tasks, elevate your sense of awareness throughout your day and note which tasks you’d like to delegate in the future. Stop what you’re doing and add this task to a running list. When you have a spare moment, return to your list and sketch out some general guidance for each task. Before your new hire starts, take an afternoon (sometimes a weekend—remember you are properly preparing to relieve yourself of some stress!), order a pizza, lock the door, put on your fave tunes, and flesh out your SOPs for all of the duties you’ll be handing off. Make a step-by-step, fool-proof guide with screenshots. If you weren’t there on the employee’s first day and all they had was this guide, could they perform the job?
It’s actually really hard to properly convey your process to another person without adequate preparation. The process of stopping to write out concrete directions for each task not only helps your new hire by providing them a resource to refer to when they get stuck, but it also helps you formalize your thoughts before you have to communicate them.
That’s enough for today, folks, but follow me on LinkedIn if you’d like to chat more. And see you at the conference in May!