Social Media ... Where's the ROI?
To shed some light on the challenges of implementing a profitable social media strategy, Publishing Executive talked with experts from around the publishing and social media spheres about their forays into social media, its benefits and where they’re finding ROI. Below is a round-up of five tenets for creating ROI-driven social media efforts.
1. Create Advertiser-Friendly Assets
One concrete source of ROI in social media is through site sponsorships and advertising placements. In integrating social media into a publication’s Web site or even creating a new social entity, publishers should not only consider their users’ needs, but also keep potential advertisers in mind. Hearst Magazines developed a social media strategy that combines peer-to-peer networking and a controlled, branded environment to successfully generate new advertising revenue.
When Hearst Magazines acquired Answerology, it built this technology into its existing publication sites. “What we’re doing is setting up different communities [around topics such as] ... shelter, house and garden, food, beauty, style, relationships, areas where Hearst already has a consumer magazine, a big bunch of users and advertisers,” Milner says.
In addition to offering peer-to-peer communication, Hearst also incorporates expert voices on its Answerology sites, such as Seventeen.com/ask. For example, when a teenage girl asks a question about skin care on Seventeen’s site, she can receive answers from her peers, the magazine’s beauty editors, or even a paid sponsor such as Neutrogena (whose comments would be clearly labeled as being from a beauty expert at Neutrogena).
Milner says the expert advice adds value for the readers, increases the community’s credibility, and gives companies the chance to participate in the social media conversation and not just advertise along the margins of the Web page. “The ROI is going to come from the marketers’ saying … ‘We’re willing to pay for a branded environment, and we want engagement with the users,’” Milner states.