It’s a question as old as time — or at least as old as Facebook.
What is the value of digital content and social media for business?
As an agency, this is a question we have to answer for each of our clients. And for executives, it’s a question that must be considered before building an executive digital presence.
According to Hootsuite, “58% of brands say measuring the effectiveness of social is a challenge, and only 34% measure social ROI.” Despite those stats, we know that establishing objectives and goals that are measured against real key performance indicators (KPIs) is the only way to determine social media’s value. But what does that look like? How do you do it? What are the steps? The process looks different for each client and, in this case, each executive.
A clear path to ROI is necessary to justify the investment of time and money in an executive digital presence that utilizes social media for thought leadership. Let’s take a look at the steps to ensure that you’re not just wasting your time or creating content for content’s sake.
Step 1: Determine your goals and how much they’re worth.
Everything starts with creating a positive business outcome. Here are some possible options for goals and objectives:
Number of leads
Volume of impressions
Website goal conversions
Time spent on a website page
New website users
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Identify what outcomes would create value for your business. Do you need to drive brand awareness? Followers, impressions, and website visits would be a good place to start. If you’re trying to generate sales, you might choose leads, goal conversions, or email subscribers. What you choose depends on your business and what you want your digital presence to accomplish.
Secondly (but perhaps more importantly), determine the value of that outcome. How much is a lead worth? What’s the value of a website visit? Think about how you personally fit into your brand’s marketing mix or how social fits into your existing marketing efforts. How many touches does it typically take to convert a customer? What’s the value of that new customer? By assigning a realistic value to your actions online, you can determine what it’s going to take to create digital success.
Step 2: Integrate with online tools.
How are you going to measure the performance of your content? Make sure that you’re connected or have access to the tools with which you measure ROI online.. Here are some possible considerations.
Website: First, make sure that your website has a comprehensive analytics platform integrated, like Google Analytics. You need access to those analytics to track the traffic generated with your content.
Leads: Ensure you have access to online forms where leads are tracked, whether it’s through your website or a third-party integration like Hubspot.
Impressions and followers: Your social channel’s native analytics will give you direct access to these metrics. But enterprise platforms like Khoros, Hubspot, Sprinklr, or free tools like Hootsuite can integrate metrics from multiple channels into one place.
Email subscribers: What email platform do you use? Make sure you’re able to track the growth of your subscriber lists.
Step 3: Identify digital assets to drive goal conversions.
Like I’ve discussed in my blog on the topic of tearing down the barriers to executive thought leadership, a content strategy is critical to creating and maintaining success. You need a plan.
However, not all of your content should be promotional. A recent survey found that 46% of social media users “unfollow brands for posting too many promotional messages.” Your audience should consider your content stream to be a resource. By building that trust, you’ll earn the ability to share promotional messages and help drive business outcomes.
As you map out your content, determine the digital assets you have that will help guide your audience to your goal, which could be:
Blogs with a strong call-to-action.
Landing pages of your website with lead capture forms or gated content.
Engaging video content.
Keep these assets in mind as you put together your content plan for the week, month, or quarter.
Step 4: Use link tracking to identify traffic driven from thought leadership activity.
This might seem like common sense, but don’t skip this important step! If you don’t track the links you want your audience to click on, you won’t have a good barometer for success. You can use tools like Google’s UTM code for Google Analytics reporting (or the equivalent tool for your website’s analytics) or resources like bit.ly to track if your links are being clicked.
Your social channel’s native analytics will track link clicks as well, but tracking the click once the audience member arrives on your website with UTM codes is where you can determine if he or she took the desired action.
Step 5: Track goal conversions.
For actions you want your audience to take on your website, Google offers the aptly-named goal conversions. For example, if the desired action is filling out a contact form or a lead generation form, the exit page of the form would be your goal. And with UTM codes, you can track the traffic generated by the codes that results in a goal conversion.
For non-website related outcomes, make sure you keep track of the metrics you watch over time. Did the metrics go up or down when you posted your content? Did you see a bump in email subscribers or leads after you posted your content? It’s fair to say your content drove some — if not all– of those actions. If your platform tracks referral traffic, look for the traffic coming from your unique links.
Be sure that you, your team, or partner agency is keeping a close eye on the performance of your content, as well as where it’s directing your audience.
Step 6: Optimize the conversion path.
Is your audience landing on your website but then quickly leaving, clicking the wrong link, or ignoring your form? Tools like Hotjar show a heatmap of where your website visitors look and click. This type of information can help you or your team understand where your visitors are getting lost.
Perhaps you need to refine your messaging or remove steps to get to your goal. Whatever it may be, the question is the same: How can you make it easier or more obvious for your audience to take the desired action?
Step 7: Refine content strategy to optimize conversions.
Finally, as you track your success, you may start to notice trends in how your audience engages with your content. Did your blog post perform better than your lead generation form? Shift the ratio of your content based on what’s performing best.
Tracking the ROI for an executive digital presence can be tricky. But in the long run, you’ll take away valuable insights and proof of the success you’re driving for yourself and your brand.
If the road gets long and your burden too heavy, remember that Social Factor can help carry the executive thought leadership load. Contact us today, and let us know how we can help with your executive digital content strategy, execution, and reporting efforts.
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