It’s a question many marketing professionals struggle with – we want to start a social media initiative, but don’t know what resources we should put behind it because we can’t determine the return on investment.
The reason why this is a struggle is because social media actions are often regarded as an end to themselves. For example, what individuals tend to focus on is the number of friends or followers you can gather, the number of people that re-tweet your posts, the number of times your brand is mentioned, etc. These are notoriously difficult actions to monetize and in search terms would be the equivalent of just focusing on the number of impressions and on nothing else beyond the click.
The way to monetize social media activity is to first acknowledge that the platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc) is not an ideal environment to have a proper conversation with your prospects and convert them to meaningful, quantifiable action. That is best done in an environment that you control and that is micro-targeted to the user’s specific needs, for example, a landing page. Use the social media platform to syndicate, promote and engage. Then, when you have their attention, drive them to conversion focused landing pages to turn them into business. The ROI on the conversion is easily monetized using the metrics you use in your current directional programs. Then work backwards and understand how many fans/followers/friends/mentions/re-tweets it took to generate that conversion and you will be able to place a value on all these upstream social media actions.