I am only ever asked about the ROI (return on investment) of social media by people who are not quite sure if it is for them.

When I explain that it is not that easy to quantify, they often seem pleased. They have the perfect excuse not to do it, or to justify why they are not getting the results they want to see on their efforts thus far.

Given an open mind, and a few moments, I open a discussion to explore that further.

For arguments sake, let’s take Twitter, a free online networking service. Free as in ‘no charge’. The cost is your time.

The ROI can be simplified to: your hourly rate multiplied by time spent, compared with value of customers won on Twitter.

But that’s not all that Twitter is about. How do you quantify the value of less tangible benefits?

social media speech bubblesConsider the buzz around your business, the raising of your profile, the building of relationships, the increased traffic to your website, what you learn from others, and what they learn from you whilst you demonstrate your expertise and get yourself known as someone ‘who knows’.

And what about the benefits of happy customer feedback being shared on Twitter?

What about the benefits of being noticed by journalists who are looking for stories?

Dare I be a teeny weeny bit controversial here? 

Ok, here goes.

Sadly the ROI, calculated or perceived, is often found to be too low because business owners may simply be spending too much time on Twitter, increasing the costs out of all proportion to the returns.

The reason you may be spending too much time on Twitter is because you are not using it strategically and effectively.

So you spend more time broadcasting, or being ‘salesy’ and hoping people will start to get interested in you, and of course you achieve very little. And then this distorts the perceived ROI!

Social media is social, not broadcast or advertising media, so that is not going to work.

And sadly, too often, the result is the conclusion that Twitter is not for you, so you stop trying.

Then there is even less chance of you getting results because you don’t post often enough. You don’t share useful/fun/informative material, and you don’t engage with anyone. You may be saying

“Twitter takes up too much time.”

“Twitter doesn’t work for my kind of business.”

“My customers aren’t on Twitter.”

“Twitter is only for young people.”

Sound familiar?

If this is an informed decision, based on a strategic and targeted, but failed, campaign may I suggest you close your account?

A Twitter account that is not being used, is worse than not having one at all. If your account is open, but you have given up on using it, it gives the impression you have given up on your business.

However, that may not be the end of the story. There may be an alternative. 

Have you considered your opportunity cost?

If you have thought about your ROI, you have done your hourly rate x time spent calculation.

So you know the value of the time you are spending on Twitter.

If you are spending even 30 mins per day on your account, and your hourly rate is £50, then it is costing you £25 per day to be on Twitter, because this is time you are not spending earning for your business.

This is your opportunity cost (the cost of not choosing the alternative fee earning way to spend that time).

Why not outsource it?

Not to an anonymous employee of a large agency, but to

  • Someone who understands your business.
  • Someone who you ‘click’ with and who understands you.
  • Someone who will represent you as you wish to be represented, but will not pretend to be you.
  • Someone who will keep close to you so they know what is going on in your business.
  • Someone who alerts you to a message that needs your personal input.
  • Someone who will tell you when a lead is worth following up off Twitter.

I only work with clients where I feel passionate about their product or service, and where I feel part of their team, working with them to achieve their goals.

My background enables me to learn quickly about their business, and communicate with their audience in an appropriate style and tone. I use effective Twitter techniques to follow and engage with the right people for their business.

For less than £4.50 a day on a 3 month package, I have a proven track record of increasing customer engagement and achieving sales through Twitter. I would be happy to discuss this with you.

I know there will be sceptics thinking “It’s not something I can outsource, because no-one can represent me as well as me”. If you have the time, and are getting results, you are most probably correct!

If you do not have the time, and are not seeing the results, in the words of Henry Ford:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

It is not just about costs and return on investment, it is about opportunity. Twitter is a huge opportunity to spread the word about who you are, what you do, and what is special about you.

If that’s not happening for you, let’s talk.