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Social Strategy and ROI?

So, we tried Facebook ads but we really did not see any improvement at all in the traffic to our site, actually we saw better traffic improvement when we did SEO a few months earlier. Now, I have observed that large enterprises out there employ people who not only write blogs, but also post updates on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites. In addition, they answer questions posted by consumers. Fortunately, the large enterprises can do this by hiring people and training them on their products, so when these folks interact with the world, not only they are experts in social media interaction, but also know the products quite well, if not experts, to answer questions to keep visitors engaged.

Is there a service model out there for small business/start ups who can achieve similar goals. I know web.com offers to create Facebook page and also add posts on your behalf, any others? Not particularly fan of web.com because they do everything which means they do not have a focus which means they not have expertise in all the areas they serve, just my opinion strictly.

On a slightly different topic, is there a way to quantify if social strategy actually pays off? Is the ROI only measured via inbound traffic statistics or are there any other ways to measure the ROI?

8 Replies

Tom Maiaroto
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Tom Maiaroto Entrepreneur • Advisor
Full Stack Consultant
Twitter lets you run campaigns for conversions. Newsletter sign ups, registrations, etc. These end up being very inexpensive if you narrowly target your audience. I like this because it also means you will be getting more relevant signups. If you have a very broad consumer product it may not be as cheap...But if you are running a service/product for a niche market then it should prove to be quite effective.

Twitter's dashboard easily lets you measure ROI.

I would not suggest broader campaigns (for followers, for engagements) on Twitter as they will cost more and have a lower ROI (people like clicking on things - even uninterested people). run campaigns for very specific goals.
Jonathan Goldfinger
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Jonathan Goldfinger Entrepreneur • Advisor
National Director, Healthy Steps, ZERO TO THREE; Founder, CEO, latchME: breastfeed easier
Re: Facebook ROI. We've actually managed to build latchMD and latchME brand recognition and help our customers thrive using Facebook. Our ads have been ok, about 50 cents per download on average, which isn't terrible but isn't great either. Unfortunately, Facebook is so "sticky" that its users usually refuse to go anywhere else, including to use our app once they've already downloaded it! They like the app they say, but they'd much rather stay and chat on Facebook than chat with one another on the app.

That's one problem with Facebook: You could build a huge Facebook following (we have 55,000 and 30,000 engaged/week) and yet that's all they'll ever be: followers on Facebook, NOT conversions to sales.

The second major problem is that Facebook has grown so arrogant as to not care at all about its paying customers--advertisers. They change their algorithms for company pages frequently so that posts get shown to users less and less. As of January, our reach is down by 10% without any clear way of improving from Facebook. They have so much money they just don't care that companies get less ROI from their pages.

Way worse, a Facebook ad sales person recently called to sell me ads, and told me that my cost per install was "impossible. It's wrong". Rather than helping us improve, this fresh from college, drank-the-punch, silicon-valley-obsessed kid goes on to berate me about how "Facebook knows better than you" and she actually said "we know our ads only produce about 1 download per $25 spent". What? Who could ever afford to pay that for an app download?

When I told her I would not be joining the program, known as "Facebook Go", because clearly I had raw data she could see in front of her but chose to ignore, she hung up on me. Two hours later she called back, and without apologizing says "My manager said that maybe I shouldn't make generalizations. Would you still like to buy some ads?" It's that attitude that made me take my business elsewhere. We'll probably pull back spending on our Facebook page dramatically.

Long story short: ROI on social media is mostly garbage in my opinion. That's why you don't see Coca-Cola or McDonalds advertising on social media...

Thoughts?
Rick Stratton
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Rick Stratton Entrepreneur
Great States Software / Feed.Us / MKEcribs
I have had great success with Facebook ads. But the success is determined by the content. The content we produce works ver well on Facebook. Other projects I have had zero success on Facebook.

Search advertising with Google (aka Adwords) can be incredibly effective, even if you have good SEO.

If you can stick to a regular publishing schedule for your blog that gives your target audience useful information (and not just an ad for your service/product) and then share that content on Twitter and Facebook, the ROI can be affordable and not very time consuming.

The return can be measured in traffic, but ultimately needs to be measured in dollars.

Also don't waste your time with Web.com. Their service is intended for regular businesses that have no understanding of Facebook.
Tom Maiaroto
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Tom Maiaroto Entrepreneur • Advisor
Full Stack Consultant
Jonathan, thanks for sharing that experience. I have felt, for a long time, that Facebook hires extremely inexperienced employees that end up being customer facing (their smarter/more experienced hires aren't interacting with people).

Facebook doesn't really care about your success either, that's true. They have a very buggy API that makes running campaigns on Facebook quite difficult. You need to learn about all the work arounds for their problems that don't get fixed. Then they removed the like gate, etc.

They truly are not building an easy platform for you to promote a business on. Is it effective? Can it be? Sure. But it's not easy. I'd try Twitter and I think LinkedIn may even be a good resource for many folks in the near future.

That said, I think the moral is for a social strategy - hit multiple channels.
Asad Shaikh
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Asad Shaikh Entrepreneur
AWS/NoSQL/Big Data Architect at Capital One
So, based on what I am seeing here, social media is no science (follow specific steps to get specific results). Still would like to know if there are entities which can keep your social media pipeline alive (post blogs, post updates on Facebook, Twitter, etc, keep the conversation going....) for start ups and charge by traffic or some other method that is based on results.

Jonathan Goldfinger
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Jonathan Goldfinger Entrepreneur • Advisor
National Director, Healthy Steps, ZERO TO THREE; Founder, CEO, latchME: breastfeed easier
Rick, thanks for the insight.

Tom, I completely agree. It takes multiple channels, but unfortunately it tends to get expensive hiring staff to manage what can become very unwieldy accounts with followers, with ? ROI. I agree blogs are a way better idea.

Asad, plenty of people advertise on peopleperhour.com that they can do this. I'm not sure how good the quality will be though.
Tom Maiaroto
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Tom Maiaroto Entrepreneur • Advisor
Full Stack Consultant
Well, it's about as much science as SEO. Things change all the time and your mileage will vary. There's far too many variables on both your end and the other end which is out of your control.

Jonathan - I don't think it's terribly expensive to manage all the social media. Certainly not for a startup at first. There's also interns, etc. The ad campaigns of course are kinda on autopilot too. So it's manageable. The part that's time consuming is engaging with people in a meaningful way...But you can really grow your follower base with little effort (and I'm certainly not suggesting automated software that ends up being spammy - also do not buy followers).
Daniel McEnnis
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Daniel McEnnis Advisor
Researcher Consultant
I have used Facebook ads for years. First rule: Facebook *heavily* promotes ads that garner interest from an audience, automatically fine tuning your ad audience to find better micro-fits if your budget is small. If your ad does not generate user interaction, expect it to be expensive and slow.

To capitalize on this, Facebook works well for novel products for a very engaged target audience picked up front. Spend a lot of time to get people to interact, spend a lot of time developing the experience behind the interaction. These ads get high placement counts quickly, and typically get much lower ad costs. My understanding is that Facebook likes and reposts of ad content are free, so aiming to multiply ad ROI by this can be effective.

That being said, Facebook is now the 500 lb gorilla of targeted advertising. They are the only site that can turn regular demographic information into targeted ads without upfront expense. As a consequence, price per ad display has dramatically increased in the past few years, reducing ROI.

Pick the medium that bests suit your audience. If engagement and meeting significant customer information needs drive your business in a content-like fashion, Facebook still works pretty well. Otherwise, more traditional avenues may end up with better ROI, requiring less Internet-unique advertising practices to achieve results.
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