Social Business: What's the ROI?

Whether you’re promoting your company’s products and services, or getting your employees to share information and collaborate, being active on social media will help you grow as a company. Employees will be more engaged, happier and more productive – I’m sure many will read that last line with skepticism, but I truly believe in it.  Social business users are typically a more engaged and productive group, but the big question remains: “How does that affect the bottom line?”

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When it comes to convincing the boss, you need to tell a story.  They need to see they are getting something in return and it will ultimately make your company better.  But what does that really mean?  I tweeted a few weeks ago at the IBM Connect show about the process behind this.  Becoming a social business does not happen by magic; it takes time, it takes a plan and most importantly, it takes effort.

It’s understandable that you want the ability to measure and monitor your success – I couldn’t agree more. Without a plan, goals are really just a dream.

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Here are a few pointers on getting started.

  1. Align your social goals with your business goals
  2. Define what is important to you in terms of social success (likes, shares, new followers, etc.)
  3. Understand that becoming a social business is a process, one that will take some time to incorporate

The above is just a starting point; you have to realize that being social is just a part of the bigger picture, providing you with additional touches you can’t get any other way.  Being involved in user groups and attending trade shows all help (especially when supplemented with social media promotion). Writing articles, contributing to community resources and ultimately sharing those on social media outlets all contribute to the overall success.  All of these are keys to building a following that have faith and trust in what you do. Several additional advantages that you will have as a company when you become a social business include:

  1. Intellectual capital – When you become social, ideas, thoughts and information are shared freely among multiple destinations.  What may have been contained in a one-to-one email is now available to many, and can be searched on your social network.
  2. Thought leadership – By sharing your knowledge on a particular topic, people start to recognize you as a leader in that space.
  3. Brand recognition –  Your employees connect with other people on social media, and sharing information builds credibility; with this credibility comes leadership. As you earn that trust, it’s easier to sell a product or service, because of that predefined relationship.

As you build your social business, remember that social ROI is really unlike any other part of your plan that you will measure, because it is difficult to directly correlate to the bottom line.  But the bigger question is this: ”Where would you be without social business in your plan?”

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