How to Boost Your Social Media ROI

Posted by Sulin Ngo on May 26, 2022

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Social media—you know you need to use it, but if you’re struggling to tie your efforts to a return, it can be difficult to justify carving out the time and resources to keep up. But think of it this way: seven out of 10 Americans use at least one form of social media. That’s 230.6 million people and a LOT of disposable income dollars for you to tap into.

If your social media channels aren’t working effectively, you’re missing out on your piece of the pie. So how do you make social media worth it? Here are a few ways to boost your social media marketing and your bottom line.

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Know Your Approach

While Facebook and Instagram continue to reign supreme, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat are quickly growing. But your time and resources are limited, so determining which platforms are the most effective for you and your market is key. 

  • Pick the right platform(s) for your brand and audience. It’s better to have a strong presence on the right platforms than a weak presence on all of them. For example, retail and lifestyle brands may benefit most from Instagram and Pinterest, whose image-focused feeds help users craft their ideal home—with your product at the center.
  • Expand your content mix. As social media platforms vie for ad dollars, they’re expanding their capabilities to include a full range of content types (short-form videos, animations, live streaming, etc.). Leveraging a broad range of content types within your chosen platforms will help ensure your brand is top of mind throughout a consumer’s purchasing life cycle.
  • Build an organic base. If your brand is considering expanding to a new social media platform, remember to first build an organic presence to support your paid campaigns.

Diversify Your Content

We’ve mentioned before that 77% of Millennial and Gen Z consumers are already shopping on social media. And we also know that these two generations are on track to become the most diverse, well-educated, and digitally savvy of us all. So how do you make sure you’re getting their attention and their dollars?

Brands and retailers must meet Gen Z and Millennials where they are—at the intersection of inclusive representation AND authentic content. Your advertising should include visual imagery and language that’s representative and inclusive across identities (gender, race, physical ability, etc.), while remaining true to your business. If having diverse voices at the table isn’t possible, then another option is to partner with diverse content creators or influencers.

Remember that these audiences are the most well-versed on social media and, therefore, the most sensitive. It’s not enough—and may even be damaging—to take shortcuts for the sake of checking the box.

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Test, Test, Test—Then Optimize

Predicting where the trendsetting winds will blow can sometimes feel like taking a shot at the lottery. Will your ad or campaign go “viral” and yield wild success? Maybe, but most likely not. If you want to see your true social media ROI, you need to make your buying decisions on data, not just the hope of viral success.

But before you can test and gather data, you need to understand what success looks like. Every campaign should have a goal and specific metrics that determine whether that goal has been reached (key performance indicators, or KPIs). If your goal is to increase the traffic to your ecommerce site, then one of your KPIs may be click-throughs on the content that links to your site.

With these KPIs and a strong knowledge of your audience, you can begin to piece together specific, actionable tactics. For example, does a “Learn more” or “Shop now” button yield a higher click-through rate? Will your audience respond better to a lifestyle image or a product image? Is shoppable content on your Instagram feed more engaging than Reels? Every new test provides data that will help optimize campaigns moving forward to generate a better return.

Be Open-Minded and Agile

The most popular social media platforms constantly evolve according to their audiences’ interests and new technology. As AR (augmented reality) and AI technology have become more accessible, we’re already seeing how social platforms and content creators are monetizing them. As is often the case with new technologies, there’s a first-mover advantage for early adopters.

Being the “first” in any new space is not without risk and requires a thoughtful approach. Yet brands that succeed create a long-term “halo effect” in which they’re viewed more favorably. We’re not suggesting that creating Fortnite characters, offering NFTs, or entering the metaverse is practical for every brand, but these case studies demonstrate that there’s value in being open to new and unconventional modes of advertising.

If nailing down a tried-and-true social media strategy feels like chasing a moving target—that’s because it is. Brands will need to keep an open mind, understanding that the demographics and interests of social platforms will continue to change. With regular testing, a flexible mindset, and a willingness to explore something new, you can stay on top of each new wave.

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Topics: Social Media, social media strategy, social media ads, social media ecommerce

Sulin Ngo

Written by Sulin Ngo

Sulin Ngo (she/her), Icon’s social copywriter, is a marketing pro with a decade of experience across B2B, B2C, and digital marketing. She specializes in writing culturally sensitive content that drives action, particularly around social causes and issues. Outside of work, Sulin leverages her big-picture planning and strategy mindset in her favorite hobby: throwing surprise parties.

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