Putting the ROI in Social Media Strategy (Part 1)

Turns out, you can actually sell stuff on social media.

I’ve related a metaphor (that holds no bearing in reality, even if it probably did happen a bunch of times) when asked about marketing my clubs on social media.

social_media_roi.jpgWay back before the dawn of time somewhere, when companies started trying to wrap their heads around millennials being an economic bellwether, some chiefs and departmental Marketing Directors were sitting around discussing how to take advantage of this new market opportunity. Do we go with an edgier brand? Secure a new celebrity endorsement? Get an app (whatever the hell that is)? Here’s the solution they came to (mixed with at least one of the above) – “let’s get a Twitter.” But then, and this is still the case nearly 10 years later, not much happened beyond creating an account, shrinking a logo down, and posting press hits when they were lucky enough to get them and promotions whenever they came up.

Even when a company invests in a social media strategist, most of the time this is done poorly. What most clubs owners will do is find a recent grad and let them post, tweet and then measure their performance in “likes” and “followers” while piling on other administrative responsibilities to justify their salary against a tough-to-measure ROI. It drives me nuts.

What so many companies fail to understand about social media is that when utilized properly, it is the ULTIMATE marketing channel. People put either the best parts of their lives, or more accurately, the parts of their lives they wish they were experiencing more often, on social media for the world to see. So marketers who don’t take social media seriously are missing two enormous opportunities on a day-to-day basis:

  • Deep insight into their target demographic’s behavior patterns and preferences
  • Real-time market viability data for brand and marketing strategies

And one huge one with a proper social media strategy:

I invest heavily in social media, in terms of my time, my budget, and my overall brand strategy. It was a hard sell to get there – same assumptions as above – but by thoughtfully growing and engaging with my audience through social media, I’m able to execute promotions quickly and (relatively) easily to maximum efficacy.

For example, on the heels of a massive brand-building campaign (not focused on driving memberships, but that had the auxiliary effect of engaging the hell out of Philadelphia’s fitness community via social media), I ran a membership promotion that generated 350 digital leads in 10 days. 82% of those leads were from social media, 57% were from freaking INSTAGRAM, and we made money back on the advertising costs of the campaign before even factoring in fees collected at point of sale or in new revenue. One of our clubs even had a show-rate (submit promotion online, send initial “your promotion is ready to go” email) of 50% without anyone even picking up the phone.

Point being, if you take social media seriously, and my team and I can’t be the ONLY ones out there who are good at this stuff, it can be the most important asset to your entire marketing mix.

Social Media <> Inbound

Inbound methodology is based on attraction over promotion and a subsequent engagement strategy that nurtures contacts to the point of sale.

As I mentioned above, social media channels are where potential customers indicate, basically, what it is that they’re attracted to – making Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter the ultimate marketplace for a company that employs an Inbound program.

There’s a step you need to take beyond generating remarkable content to push onto the web. Posting and boosting blogs and e-books online will absolutely attract visitors to your site and build out the top of your sales funnel, and if you have a Facebook page, great, throw some ads on Facebook – but I’m hard pressed to not expound the limitations on that approach.

Basically, you’re popping up on the feed of people who are interested in your product, but unless most of your content is not just useful but relevant to your market, you’re a distraction and they’d rather be watching an idiot cat video.

This will be different for every company, but consider the following when you’re setting up your social media strategy:

  • What’s the local landscape? You’re not the only fitness club in your market, and fitness happens OUTSIDE gyms. How are you connecting to that community?
  • Why does anyone care? No seriously. Not everyone owns a gym. Gotta think outside the box (gym).
  • What else is happening with your target? How can you be relatable to the rest of their lives? This makes you not an intrusion to their feed, but a welcome addition.
  • How easy can you make it to get them into your gym? Not gonna reveal too much here, but the more barriers from someone’s newsfeed to your Contacts in HubSpot, the more likely they’re never gonna land in HubSpot or, ultimately, becoming members of your gym.

It seems like a lot, and it is. But as with anything in the marketing world, there’s no such thing as an easy fix.

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