How do you drive ROI through engagement on social media?

According to Statista, as of October 2023, there are 4.93 billion social media users worldwide. For this vast and steadily increasing population of all ages, social media is the medium for socialising, shopping, news, information, interest groups, support groups, interactions with popular idols, and many more daily activities. Along with the increasing number of users, the time spent daily on social media has risen to 151 minutes in 2023, according to Sprout Social. Unsurprisingly, social media is now the marketing medium of choice for most brands.

A strong social media presence allows brands to enliven their voice and visual identity, position themselves as authorities in their field, and develop a strong reputation. Social media helps develop, build, and nurture customer relationships. Establishing social media engagement as a KPI allows brands to provide better experience, manage brand recall, and build long-term loyalty.

However, it has been challenging to measure ROI for social media engagement over the years. Engagement metrics provide information regarding content quality and audience reactions, not revenue impact. Social media engagement KPIs like followers, views, impressions, shares, and comments mainly measure brand awareness and loyalty. ROI based on engagement focuses on long-term impact through consistency. With AI and analytics getting more mature and sophisticated, correlating financial outcomes and business objectives to social media engagement is now possible.

As per a 2023 survey by Sprout Social published on Forbes, organisations consider social media data and insights to be of significant value in enhancing brand image, knowing the customer, and bettering their competitive standing. Organisations expect social media to influence every business aspect, including strategic decision-making. Social media management (SMM) tools with AI-enabled analytics help streamline the utilisation of these insights for business decision-making. Intelligent SMM tools will help demonstrate the direct impact of social media insights on companies' bottom-line. So, how can businesses deepen customer engagement through social media to drive ROI?

Clear Goals: Social media ROI depends on what the brand wants to achieve through its customer engagement within a given duration. The goal could be increased website traffic, brand awareness, sales, subscribers, or store footfalls. When running campaigns, each campaign should have its defined objectives. KPIs should be measured in accordance with the defined goals. Clear goals provide a framework for the brand's strategy and help prioritise content.

Know Your Customer: Brands should put in the necessary research and not make assumptions about their potential customers. Social media platforms store age, gender, location, interests, and other information. These platforms have varied member forums, across subjects such as politics, arts, and visual media. This abundant demographic information helps brands understand their followers and audience, influencing the development of more relatable content.

Be Authentic: Authenticity is a major factor in the resonance of the content with the audience. The content should align with the brand's values and voice. Fake product content will damage a brand's image and credibility significantly. Before going Live with content, brands should think through the impact and possible consequences. Clickbait content might trigger a one-off voluminous response but can diminish the brand's image in the long run. In attempting to cater to a wide-ranging audience, the brand's voice shouldn't be compromised, as such an approach could make the brand bland or irrelevant.

Listen to Your Customer: When brands create solely product-focused content, it does not register or connect with its audience. Listening is essential to connecting. Brands need to make their target audience their content drivers by seeking out the customer's preferences, needs, and pain points. It is essential to build a community among followers by initiating conversations in response to posts and comments, including them in brand initiatives, and utilising their input in products and content. Brands need to listen to their potential customers. Social listening tools such as Brandwatch and Hootsuite allow brands to monitor online conversations, analyse sentiment, and gather valuable insights from social media, enabling them to proactively address customer concerns, enhance engagement, and refine their strategies to improve overall customer experience.

Content Relevance: Irrelevant and repetitive content can put people off a brand. Content inspiration is everywhere, from unique headlines and uncommon perspectives to pop culture and viral trends fuelled by Gen Z clicks. Timing matters in viral trends, as most are short-lived. Brands must capitalise on trendy content before the trend and hashtag move on. Influencer marketing strengthens engagement through influencers whose content aligns with the organisation's voice and product. Influencers who have won the trust of the brand's follower demographics are the best fit.

Consistency: Develop a content calendar to post and monitor consistently. Analysing data and metrics on the audience's reaction to content can provide keen insights into creating impactful and engaging content. These insights help organisations make data-backed decisions and mould their social media strategy to deliver appealing content. There should be a seamless transition of content based on audience responses and needs. Regular posting is necessary to prevent going out of the audience's sight and, consequently, their minds. Social media algorithms usually favour frequent posting, and doing so expands the content's reach.

Today's customers are an aware audience, and businesses need to put in effort to earn loyalty. Continued and consistent effort reinforces social media engagement with customers and enhances ROI and organisational growth. Social engagement of potential customers should be tracked by brands as one of their KPIs to gain a more nuanced understanding of their customers.

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