In a recent meeting we asked a company how they determined their ROI for digital marketing, specifically social media. Their response: “We look at the number of followers we have”. This answer, it seems, is still the benchmark by which companies measure social media success.
However, we like to challenge this thinking because large numbers don’t necessarily mean large sales numbers or even good ROI. But in an increasing effort to build an online profile, some are resorting to tools and bots that harvest followers and Likes, or as we think of it ‘The Social Media Darkside’.
It’s easy to get 1,000 followers for your Twitter account or 5,000 Likes for your Facebook page in a day, if you pay for it. Sites like Fiverr offer a vast number of people who can promise you this for the tiny sum of $5. And with automated tools like Tweetadder you can have an impressive following fairly swiftly.
But are large numbers a good thing? No – bigger is not always better. What you pay for financially, you pay for in quality.
With large numbers your potential reach is obviously greater. However, out of that number how many actually engage with your brands messaging? Probably very few, equating to low engagement levels. And engagement is how you should be determining your ROI as this is the route to not only putting your message in front of your existing advocates but alo making your message go viral, meaning your message gets in front of more people and ultimately leads to further engagement and sales.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been pitting the organic and darskside methods against each other. For one week we took Twitter and used the free version of Tweetadder to follow people; the following week we went back to using our preferred organic methods. The results should come as no surprise.
Those set up and followed using Tweetadder were of low quality, e.g. account rarely followed back, and those that did never engaged and those that did follow would unfollow three days later. Follower numbers as a whole were low – around 18-20 out of 200.
Those followed and engaged with organically often reciprocated and were of a higher valued interest. Also, being organic allows you to take part in Twitter events such as the fantastic #devonhour which promotes local businesses and events. These types of events also build on a sense of online community where quality engagement happens, leading to an increase in Followers. Over the week of organic methods we saw an increase of between 80-90 Followers.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t pay to engage online. As a brand, you can reach customers with paid advertising and/or organic content. Research shows that customers via organic content are much better customers in the long run. By adding paid alongsideorganic, the combined lift is overwhelmingly better than paid channels, e.g. Google ads, alone. So, within the context of organic marketing, social media is your primary engine for promoting new content. Effectively organising your social campaigns and incorporating them with new content on your site, optimised for search, can take you from online zero to hero in a short space of time.