The golden question in any social media initiative is, "What's the ROI?" Often results can be hard to quantify, but the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) has identified several ways businesses can tie their social media efforts to corporate performance.
Of the 400 executives surveyed in its Executive Guidance 2011: Achieving Intelligent Growth study, only 11 percent agree that their company's social media efforts and investment have delivered tangible business results. This is a challenge that most companies using social media face. Instead of focusing on hard metrics, the CEB recommends that B2B companies use social media as a relationship builder:
- Enable "silent advocates" to build your brand - Focus on audiences that are favorable to your brand/company but passive in their support. Only 10 percent of any brand's supporters have advocated for the brand, according to CEB. To engage the majority of passive supporters, marketers need to foster an emotional and economical connection to their brand.
- Identify and participate in watering hole conversations - Engage with customers in conversations that are currently taking place by providing helpful information or perspective, without directly promoting products or brands.
- Use social media as a "service wrapper" that adds brand value - Provide valuable advice, service, and support within social media channels.
- Re-educate customers, inform internal groups, and reshape innovation across the enterprise -Enable key internal communities to engage in conversation to move critical, targeted, and often unstructured information about markets, customers, and products into key social networks.