Is There a Social Networking ROI?
We have received business from forums when other network members have seen our answers. Another example comes from the Printer Owners Forum where a printer recommended us. I am not so naïve or arrogant to think there are not others bashing us online, but forums are very powerful when they are vibrant with activity. Think where print buyers or marketing professionals hang out online and be present.
LinkedIn is great for business-to-business (B2B) relationships. Over the past year, we have accumulated 700 LinkedIn friends. Some may think this is a waste of time, but I receive e-mail through LinkedIn and the networking continues. This tells me certain people in this network use LinkedIn to gather information and find people.
Posting news articles, press releases and information on LinkedIn helps those people. Here is a real example. I received a LinkedIn request from someone I met at a trade show, accepted the invitation and then months later received the following LinkedIn e-mail: “How do we get started?” Now that is tangible ROI measurement. Just think how much time you need to spend at those Rotary meetings or at conferences to get to know people.
For business-to-consumer (B2C) enterprises, such as restaurants, dry cleaners and retailers, this is a viable medium. People become fans, receive promotions to motivate them to visit or purchase, and receive updated information about events.
For us, we haven’t experienced a solid ROI here. That's not to say it isn’t important to you. Start with a fan page instead of a friend page for better control over content and managing the people in your network. Think of the fan page as a billboard with a link to your entire Website. Fan pages help your search ranking as well.
Twitter hasn’t had a direct ROI, but I think it is important. The more content posted as a Tweet, the more people find the article or press release, show interest and follow us. I think over time this will have a solid ROI, but may just take longer. The nice thing is that it takes very little time. A Tweet goes out whenever we post to Facebook or LinkedIn.