What to Do When Your Boss Asks You About the ROI of Social Media

By Sam Milbrath

Social

What happens when your new boss asks you, “What’s the ROI (return on investment) of social” or “What’s our average revenue per click?”

This recently happened to Michael Landauer, the digital communities manager at The Dallas Morning News regional newspaper. His new boss comes from Nokia, where they track everything. “I realized I didn’t speak the same language as my boss and needed to quickly change that,” Landauer tells us. With a background in journalism, Landauer doesn’t have  formal training in marketing or business.

Serendipitously, Landauer received an email marketing the Advanced Social Media Strategy Certificate (ASMS) from Hootsuite and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. “I enrolled in the ASMS certification and it showed me the way,” he says. “Everything I learned from the course, I shared with my team members. We’re not just journalists experimenting with social media anymore, we’re starting to really utilize it.”

Four years ago, Landauer joined the digital team at The Dallas Morning News to increase audience engagement on their website, and manage reader comments and blog content. As almost an afterthought, he was asked to take at look at their social media presence. “We had 170 accounts—it was like anybody who ever had a thought created a social media profile as a way to share it,” he explains. “Cleaning up our social was the first step in learning on the job.”

How to track average cost-per-click and 4 other learnings

“Even after the first lesson of the ASMS certificate courseware, I started speaking the same language as my boss,” he says. “Just learning the vocabulary around social media strategy was useful in conversations. Now if I’m asked, ‘How do we make money with the information that we have from our social audiences?’ I can answer.”

Since earning his ASMS Certification, Landauer knows how to:

  • Increase the average revenue per user
  • Differentiate event sales from other sales opportunities on social
  • Run successful, targeted ad campaigns

Their goals have shifted toward audience development and strategy. “We now want to get more clicks to the website where we can track and monetize and we want to drive sponsorships and ads with social,” shares Landauer.

Learning No. 1: How to create a social customer service workflow

Landauer’s CEO shared an article with him that reported 83 percent of brands don’t answer their customers on social media. Around the same time while going through the ASMS course, Landauer learned how to create a workflow for customer service teams on social (which he helped implement). “I had an immediate response saying that this is our customer response rate, time to resolve, and workflow,” he says.

Learning No. 2: How to track and improve average cost-per-click

His team now has to meet aggressive goals for monetizing social media, which includes the crafting and tracking of sponsored posts. ASMS taught him how to create an ongoing targeted experiment on Facebook. Once an organic post shows that it’s performing well, he’ll put ad spend behind it and do tests to push it that much further. Through Facebook post “boost campaigns” like this, they’ve achieved an average cost-per-click of only 7.2 cents—an almost 2:1 return on their investment.

Learning No. 3: How to target buyers for an event

The Dallas Morning News hosted free couponing workshops with TLC’s Extreme Couponing. At the workshops, they would sell extra-copy subscriptions to the paper at a discount to people who want to collect more coupons.

Landauer launched a social campaign to get people to RSVP. Within the first few days of the three week campaign, they had 772 people click through, a CTR (click-thru-rate) of 1.7 percent. After doubling their budget to reach a larger audience, they ended up reaching 110,000 people and maintaining the CTR.

This event was so successful that it helped him exceed his annual revenue target, easily surpassing revenue goals for the event. The vast majority of the people who attended the event came through Facebook. “I learned how to target our audience and test ad spend on social from examples and case studies in the course,” he exclaims.

Learning No. 4: The importance of tracking your competition

Landauer has also started tracking what their competition is doing. Through social listening, he noticed that some local TV and radio stations did a better job than The Dallas Morning News at marketing their flagship handles. Based on his learnings, he decided to embed their main social profiles in a prominent “share bar” on their website and ask journalists to share main handles more often.

Learning No. 5: How often to post on social

Through competitive listening, Landauer noticed that many competitors were posting more content, more often—and seeing success through higher engagement. This knowledge drove him to greatly increase how much they were posting.

What’s the ROI of ASMS?

Part of growing his role and developing his professional skillset requires Landauer to come up with more creative ideas, advanced strategies, and experiment with messaging. But without formal training or tips from what worked for others, coming up with innovative social media marketing initiatives seemed daunting to him.

“If I hadn’t done ASMS, I probably would’ve told whoever was asking for targeted ads or experiments to talk to someone in advertising, but now I can do this as part of our social workflow” he explains. Landauer can now proudly support his regional news organization as it adapts and thrives on new media.

Learn more about the Advanced Social Media Strategy Certification by Hootsuite and Syracuse University.

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