Social Media ROI – Simple Question, Complex Answer

By Justin Rondeau
Director of Marketing, TemplateZone

Last time I spoke at the Conversion Conference, I was in the camp of ‘If you are asking what the ROI of social media is, then you are asking the wrong question’.? Obviously this was not a particularly popular stance, being among some of the top eMetric and web analytic minds today.? So let me revise my previous stance, with some tips that will help you reap the benefits of Facebook in a clear and measurable way.

First and foremost, when you start using Facebook (or social media in general) you need to have clear goals.? These goals should be clear and precise, nothing like ‘I want to increase my social presence’.? Define what about your social presence you want to increase, such as Like Count, increase engagement, decrease unsubscribes, etc…? As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t be so concerned about increasing your like count to enormous degrees. I would be much more concerned with the percent feedback on each post.? I stress this percentage for two reasons:

  1. The more engaged your fans are, the higher your EdgeRank.
  2. Whenever a fan interacts with your page, this activity is placed into their network’s news feed increasing your social reach.

Obviously you cannot interact with fans if you don’t have any, so you need to increase your like count to a reasonable degree and then nurture your fan base. I would suggest driving traffic from your website with a ‘Like Box’ or other various social plug-ins.? If you don’t mind spending a little money use Facebook ads to drive targeted traffic to your page.

Fan-Gated Custom Tab

One of the single most important factors for companies who cannot rely on brand identity for an increased like count, is a custom landing tab.? A custom landing tab will increase your like rate by roughly 50%, per a study comparing an identical Facebook ad where in one case the user landed on the wall and the other on a custom page. The landing tab on Facebook is essentially the same as any other landing page, have a clear call to action that entices your unique visitor with an offer and visual cues.

It is not enough to have a single custom tab, you want to take part in Fan-Gating, the act of one design being served up for non-fans and as soon as the fan likes your page a new design is served up.? Some great Fan-gated pages can be found on Red Bull’s and Coca-Cola’s Facebook Page. Below is an example of a Fan-Gated page on the High Impact Designer Facebook Page.


Notice the first design uses the arrow as a visual cue and the semi transparency as a teaser of the content underneath. We also utilize a lead generation form to get more information about our fans, namely their email address.? In this campaign, when we email a user a Facebook audit, we ask if they would like to get promotional materials and more tips about Facebook with a double opt-in link. After a user clicks this link, we have successfully turned a Like into a marketable lead who is genuinely interested in our brand.

Fan-gated content can be difficult to create if you are not a coder.? There are free applications on Facebook, but they require you to have a completed design and HTML code completed prior to using the application. You then take the code and copy and paste it into the application and it develops the page.? If you come to my session at Conversion Conference I will have a handout reviewing this process in great detail.

What does Social do for You?

There is a lot of work that goes into creating a great looking Facebook tab, and sense there are still no real direct ways to measure the path from Like to Conversion people are claiming either ‘You don’t need to know the ROI’ or the opposite ‘There is no ROI so I won’t use it’.

Well both camps are completely wrong, when did we get so lazy? There are so many tools out there for measuring social media metrics, and there are some very BASIC tricks we can use to see where the conversions came from.

Personally, I use social media to build my list and generate qualified leads. I have, and until something drastic changes in the minds of Facebook users, will always oppose direct sales on Facebook.? There are some outliers, as there always are, where a page developed a successful eCommerce platform on Facebook. However, as we all know, just because a company is the exception to the rule doesn’t mean your company will be (The Amazon Outlier anyone?)

So you still want to sell?

Alright, so some people still want to sell on Facebook. Though I always suggest against this, here is a tip you can use to verify that your sales came from social.

First, if you are going to sell, create a fan-gated page with an offer ‘Like us and get X% off your purchase’. Once the user likes your page the coupon will be served up.? If you really want to get more out of Facebook, require them to fill a form out to get the coupon. Make sure you make a coupon that you can easily distinguish from any other promotions, e.g., FB25.? Now when someone purchases and uses this coupon (assuming it doesn’t leak out to coupon sites) you can attribute the sale to Facebook.

To Recap

Facebook is a great way to generate leads and build up a community of brand evangelists through customer interaction. Currently, the trend in social media is that community building is the most important part of your social campaign. I hold that it is impossible to build a community without first bringing people together.? A great looking action oriented Fan-Gated Facebook page is the most important part of your social media campaign.

It is worth noting that 90% of the people who like your page never return to your Facebook Page. Instead of visiting your page, they only interact with your page through status updates. This statistic and the below points are why social media specialists are honing in on interaction:

  1. If your fans interact with your page, your EdgeRank will rise
  2. If your EdgeRank rises, the more your fans see later statuses
  3. If your fans see later statuses and are intrigued by the content, then they are more likely to interact with your page
  4. If a fan interacts with your page, then your status is seen by their personal network
  5. If your status is seen by your fan’s personal network, then your social reach increases
  6. [Conclusion] If your fans interact with your page, your social reach increases

By increasing your social reach, your company’s messages are now viewable by people who are not directly fans of your page. On top of your company’s message being seen by more users it is seen juxtaposed to a trusted friend’s name. Essentially you are getting a personal testimonial to a particular audience who trust the person giving the testimony.

However, you can’t just expect to reach all sorts of new connections immediately. The ambiguity in the latter half of the third premise is a gigantic wildcard. You need to post content that people want to interact with; further interaction is what increases your social reach giving you the coveted ‘viral’ effect. I would suggest going to Byron White’s session about Content marketing to learn to create content that people want to read.

If this peaked your interest, come to my session where William Leake and I will go over tips for a great looking Facebook Page, Facebook ads, and how Facebook can not only drive traffic to your website but build your brand through a zealous group of brand evangelists.


About the Author

Justin Rondeau, Director of Marketing, TemplateZoneJustin Rondeau graduated Suma Cum Laude from the University of New Hampshire in 2009 with a BA in Philosophy. Though Justin studied Philosophy he found his niche in marketing while doing the copywriting for TemplateZone and found great success in analyzing social media trends. Justin believes that philosophy is what has made him so successful in the marketing field because philosophy, like marketing, requires rigorous analysis and an ever evolving approach. Justin directs social media strategy and email marketing for TemplateZone and its suite of services, including High Impact Designer. His expertise on landing pages and Facebook page layouts was instrumental in shifting the product mix offered by TemplateZone, in addition to setting a new course for the company’s marketing and branding.

See Justin Live!

Justin will be presenting a session with William Leake, of Apogee Results, on “Social Success: Using Facebook as a Landing Page & Converting in the Social Eco-system” at Conversion Conference East 2011 in New York City. See the full agenda and read more about this session. Also check out Justin’s new product site High Impact Designer.

Want to save $700 on Conversion Conference? Contact Justin to request a discount code!

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