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How to Increase the ROI of Social Media Marketing

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As a marketer (or perhaps a small business owner), I'm sure that you've read many articles extolling the virtues of social media marketing. Perhaps you've even created a few social media profiles to try it out for yourself. But if you're like most people, social media outreach eventually becomes a lower priority because it doesn't directly generate revenue. Well, no longer!

To create more ROI from social media, marketers need to ensure that they are delivering the right message, to the right person, through the right social media channel. This article will help you to figure out which audience to target, what type of message to communicate and which digital medium will be most effective to deliver it.

Who should you target?

Twenty percent of online consumers are considered High Sharers. They are typically younger, more active on social media sites and use multiple devices to access the Internet (smartphone, computer, laptop, etc.). Typically, High Sharers create original online content. High Sharers are often loyal to specific brands and are almost three times more likely to recommend products/services to others through social media.

The other 80 percent of online consumers are considered Low Sharers. These consumers are not loyal to a specific brand and will constantly search out the best quality product/service through extensive research. Low Sharers don't often use social media sites, but when they do, they typically do not create original content; instead, they are more likely to share other people's content.

Recommendations from trusted sources (friends, family, social networks, etc.) are the second most influential factor for consumers when contemplating a purchase, so it is important that companies design their marketing campaign to appeal to High Sharers, especially if they have a very tight budget, as this outreach will generate greater ROI.

What messaging should you deliver? Which sites are most effective to communicate your message to online consumers?

I attended a very interesting session at last month's SES Conference in Toronto given by Judith Lewis, a social media expert and blogger at SEO Chicks. In the session, Judith examined the seven types of social media sharers and how their sharing style can be leveraged to more effectively target and engage potential customers:

Altruists
Altruists make up the largest percentage of social media users. They share information with their friends and followers because of a desire to help others. Altruists should be a primary target audience for all nonprofit organizations, fundraising-related companies, etc. as these social sharers want to help NPOs help others in need. The most effective way to engage altruists is through Facebook and email.

Selectives
Selectives are the second most common types of sharers on social media. They share information because it will be relevant to a specific friend. Selectives use email most frequently to share information and ideas.

Passionates
Passionates share information because they share a common passion with someone else. They use Facebook most frequently, but are often very active on customer review sites.

Connectors
Just like their name suggests, Connectors share information in order to create opportunities for socializing with friends. Connectors use multiple social media channels to more effectively share information with their friends and followers; the most frequent sites used by Connectors are Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and Facebook.

Trendspotters
Trendspotters use social networking sites to share information in order to show that they are aware of the newest, hottest trends. It is important for these sharers to build their credibility across multiple social media channels; most frequently, Trendspotters use YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, foursquare, Flickr, Facebook and Delicious.

These social sharers are very useful for businesses that are looking to increase their visibility and sales to the consumer audience. Interestingly enough, Trendspotters are the most influential in encouraging the purchase of fashion accessories, electronics and baby products.

Provocateurs
Provocateurs share in order to get a reaction from friends and followers. Bloggers often fall into this category of sharers. Provocateurs use YouTube, Wordpress/Blogger, Twitter, LinkedIn, foursquare, Flickr and Delicious most frequently.

Careerists
Careerists use social networking sites primarily for business purposes. In general, Careerists use YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and Facebook to share information related to their business or career.

It's no longer enough to have thousands of social media friends and followers. If online relationships aren't being monetized, the ROI on a company's social media campaign will be almost non-existent. By engaging High Sharers to generate valuable recommendations and offering content specifically tailored to each target audience's emotional needs through the most appropriate digital channel, marketers can dramatically increase consumer engagement, brand loyalty and sales.

Jennifer Nagy, president of jlnpr, is a seasoned public relations and marketing professional with a passion for everything marketing-related.

Sources:
• SES Toronto presentation by Judith Lewis
"The Science of Sharing" Whitepaper