How to Justify the Social Business Investment

Many organizations are in need of a simple, practical ROI framework for social business. Firms that have had their social moment still need to justify the social business investment in a tangible, metrics-driven way. 

ROI = (return – investment) / investment

The Social Moment: The moment an organization recognizes social business is mainstream and integral to its future business success.

The key to delivering a return on social business investment is to focus on achieving a direct impact on revenue. Prioritize activities at each phase of the buying process where your customers are considering your products and services. A social business strategy grounded in goals (KPIs) and metrics for each social channel along the buying process leads to meaningful results.

  1. Evaluate the traffic from your social channels to identify purchase paths.

  2. Establish separate channel benchmarks for key interactions and conversion metrics.

  3. Create and employ content that aligns with customer's needs.

  4. Measure the channel effectiveness over time to determine improvement.

Below are a number of categories and metrics to consider incorporating into your social business dashboard and justification framework.

Social Marketing Metrics

The value of social marketing is in the ability to regularly communicate and interact with your customers in context during their day - not simply through conventional marketing channels. For example, social marketing utilizing LinkedIn to post thought leadership and blog content, hosting webinar and solution/product overview material on SlideShare and leveraging YouTube for the creation and re-use of video aligns with an empowered consumer's self-service and online research behavior.

Sharing this content in places such as groups on LinkedIn, Twitter, your site and other locations like Medium all serve to amplify the return on the time, resource and investment made in your brand messaging and content creation process.

Several metrics to consider vis-a-vis historical data include:

  • Direct content creation cost (creation, hosting, placement, etc.)

  • Brand engagement / interactions with product and service content at the exact points where consumers are going through the online buying process (new followers, clicks on link in an update/post, population of contact or form, signups for newsletter, downloads of files/presentations, time spent on important webpage or other online transactions)

  • Cost per click/lead (reach/traffic/conversion rate)

Social Sales Metrics

Optimization of the sales process that results in increased transactions, increased revenue per transaction, and velocity and efficiency of sales are core aspects of measuring social business investment. 

Relevant sales metrics to consider are:

  • Prospect and customer communications (increase in interactions)

  • Number calls/interactions required to reach a prospective customer

  • Sales funnel contribution (opportunities attributable to social business activity)

  • Deal size (booking's value)

  • Accelerated close rate (age of opps, time to close)

Employee Engagement Metrics

An engaged employee is enthusiastic about their work, portrays a positive outlook towards the organization's reputation and interests and works on behalf of the organization’s goals. When employees care and are engaged, they make the extra effort and display greater commitment to their job.

By providing social business training to assist employees build their individual brand without the goal of reciprocity, employers will see a greater degree of employee engagement.

Several key metrics that are relevant to consider about the effect of socially trained and engaged employees include:

  • Percent improvement in employee retention

  • Number of hires resulting from employee referrals (ability to attract quality employees and candidates)

  • Time and cost reduction in HR/recruiting effort (reduced recruiting fees)

  • Employee advocacy (number of times content is shared, positive portrayal of company in social channels)

  • Number of client referrals to new, prospective customers (advocacy), be it sponsorship through social introductions or direct referrals

  • Customer experience (client satisfaction survey results/net promoter score improvement)

"Customers are 105% more likely to buy and spend 11% more per transaction after interacting with other customers online." (Bazaar Voice)

Take Aways

One key strategy that enables organizations to engage customers is establishing a culture of content and employee-generated content.  Your social business ROI will improve as the volume of user-generated content increases.

Ensure you set goals for social channels and make adjustments as metrics evidence the success or failure of your social business activities and content publishing.

Your company's social influence and reputation and its ability to develop authority and provide thought leadership are grounded in authenticity and transparency of intent.