One of the top questions facing marketers and business owners when it comes to social media marketing is how do I determine if it's working?
In fact, for three years running, the question of ROI and measuring the effects of social media efforts has been the top issue for marketers, according to Social Media Examiner's 2012 State of the Social Media Marketing Industry report, which was recently made public. The fact that it remains the number one question tells us that we still have some work to do when it comes to defining ROI and creating better tools for measurement.
But, as the data in the report also shows, there are some things we do know about the effects of using social media as part of your content marketing strategy. The most important one: The more you engage, the more your sales will increase.
That result just pops off the page of the report, and was also a point of emphasis by Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, during a webinar this week with Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing strategist for HubSpot.
"Small business is where we see some really great returns," Stelzner said. "If you can invest the time, you will see an improvement in your sales."
Of course, investing the time is the challenge, though the research shows that even with minimal investment in social media, businesses can make their sales needle climb upward. The threshold for improved results was 6 hours per week - or a little more than an hour per workday. Other benefits of an investment in social media marketing:
65% of business owners using social media reported they were more likely to generate new sales leads than those not using it or using it minimally (The longer social media was used, the higher the percentage of new leads)
Nearly 50% of business reported positive results after just 6 months
Almost 52% of small businesses - an owner with 2 or more employees - reported increased sales from social media marketing
57% of businesses reported they had reduced their marketing costs
It's not just small businesses and newcomers. Additional information in the study showed that the longer a companies experience with social media, the better their results. Ironically, the businesses themselves listed improved sales toward the bottom of the benefits list for social media, as the following chart shows:
Now, for many small- and medium-sized businesses, carving out an hour a day for social media is a big investment in time, and there is a cost to that. Yet, there are tools and techniques that can help you manage your social media so that you can get the maximum return for the time spent:
The bottom line: Social media marketing will help your business grow. If you already have a plan, we hope you are seeing those positive results. If your not, or need to get started, check out our guide "How to Use Social Media to Attract More Visitors to Your Website."