Think Differently About ROI on Social

By Emma Fitzpatrick      

It’s easy to get a sense for how people respond to your content on social media. All you need to do is count the number of likes and the shares, right? At the recent ABA Bank Marketing Conference in Baltimore, however, Merry Morud of Aimclear noted that no one reports on page likes anymore. It’s just not a useful metric. Quantifying social media engagement is more complicated, but more useful once you’ve identified your KPIs—your following, interactions, click-through rates, etc. But how confident are you when it comes to measuring the ROI of your social media activities?

You spend hour upon hour creating, publishing, monitoring and engaging with content, but the tricky part is proving how all that time benefits your bank.

It may help to think differently about ROI on social than you do for other channels.

Problem: How do you prove your social media presence is not a waste of resources?

Fifty-six percent of social media marketers are either uncertain or unable to measure their social ROI. If you’re like those surveyed, you’d say it’s your top concern about social media marketing.

Solution: Expand your definition of ROI.

According to the latest research from Sprout Social, a mere 14 percent of marketers can quantify the revenue that social media brought in. But that low number doesn’t necessarily signal a problem with social media.

The same survey identified social marketers’ top goals as increasing brand awareness, community engagement and web traffic before contributing to revenue. Luckily, this aligns with what consumers want, too. Asked what they want from brands on social media, consumers reported a preference for brand content that aids in awareness and consideration.

Social is the place to introduce yourself to new leads, impress them with your bank’s story and build trust. Only then can you expect to drive customers toward a conversion.

Because of that, it may be best to stop associating ROI exclusively with dollars. Instead, align your ROI with your goals.

If you want to increase awareness, focus on your reach and shares. To measure engagement, track comments and click-throughs. Find ways to track website referrals as they work through the funnel toward an eventual conversion. Combine all these elements to capture the full spectrum of social media’s impact.

Problem: How can storytelling increase reach and engagement?  

As social media marketers, we’re storytellers at heart. And staying true to the conventional wisdom, most marketers (58 percent) list storytelling as a top content priority. But this type of material often requires serious effort to generate. To make it a sound investment—no matter how you’re measuring the return—it can’t be all about you.

Solution: Don’t neglect the consumer’s wants and needs.

In Sprout Social’s 2018 Social Index, only 37 percent of consumers reported a desire for social content that tells a story. Storytelling does play a critical role in marketing—especially in a commoditized industry like banking. But don’t forget to keep the customer front and center.

When asked what they want from brands on social, here’s how consumers responded:

  • 72 percent want discounts or sales.
  • 60 percent want posts that showcase new products or services.
  • 59 percent want to learn something new.
  • 56 percent want you to entertain them.
  • 49 percent want to be inspired.

Before updating your editorial calendar, consider these data and align them with your ROI goals. Think of ways to incorporate these elements into your storytelling.

Engagement is not the same as reach.

The survey found that overall, consumers are more likely to engage with a brand’s content than to share it with their own audiences. The extent of that behavior, however, depends on the type of content. Consumers are:

  • 150 percent more likely to engage with, rather than share, employee advocacy posts
  • 90 percent more likely to engage with, rather than share, company happenings or company personality posts
  • 50 percent more likely to engage with, rather than share, new product posts
  • 31 percent more likely to engage with, rather than share, storytelling content

If you want to increase awareness, these are the posts people are most likely to share:

  • Entertaining posts
  • Inspiring posts
  • Storytelling posts
  • Educational posts

Aiming for both?

Most consumers (58 percent) prefer visual content—specifically graphics, images and produced videos.

To succeed with social videos, make them a digestible length, add captions and don’t try to make them drive immediate conversions. That’s how you lose your audience’s attention fast.

Emma Fitzpatrick is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and marketer, whose specialties include content marketing, social media marketing and short, snappy writing. Pick her brain at [email protected].