“What is the ROI (Return on Investment) of social media?”
It’s one of the most commonly asked questions in marketing today and one of the toughest to answer. The fact is, there is no one right answer, and even as the analytics improve, it ultimately comes down to what you hope to achieve. As Susan Etlinger of Altimeter Group has written:
The first — and often most overlooked — step in social media measurement is to determine what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’ll approach it. Lay out the business strategies that support these objectives — before you start to develop or assess any social strategies.
To that end, Etlinger offers the following Social Media Measurement Compass, which may provide some guidance as you find your way through the social media landscape.
According to Etlinger, brand health refers to how people feel about, talk about and act toward your brand. And while they say talk is cheap, it’s also invaluable in determining how your practice is perceived in the marketplace, what your social share of voice is vs. your competitors’ and when it’s appropriate to respond to negative or damaging comments.
Not all campaigns, channels and metrics are created equal, says Etlinger. For doctors, the key is to determine which sites attract the most dedicated aesthetic consumers and focus your efforts accordingly. This will also help you avoid the “last click myth” that prompts many doctors to say their patients found them on Google. Trust us, the only reason they Googled your name was because they saw it somewhere else first.
If your business objective is to enhance the customer experience, social media provides an excellent venue. Encouraging patients to post reviews, for example, builds loyalty, fosters brand advocacy and reassures patients that you appreciate their insights and stand behind your work.
Social interactions can help improve the way your practice operates in several ways. Answer one would-be patient’s question online and you answer it for countless others, saving valuable time. Read reviews and you’ll uncover blind spots about patients’ experiences with your practice (most of which have to do with service issues, not doctor-patient ones). And since people trust peers more than paid advertising, the brand advocates you’ve cultivated can deliver better results at lower costs.
Are you considering offering new services or investing in the equipment to provide it? Every week, the RealSelf Buzz Index highlights the products and procedures that people are most interested in, invaluable data when considering new purchases. Likewise, the site’s Worth It Ratings serve as a de facto cost-benefit analysis on patients’ impressions of their experiences.
Just as social media is reinventing marketing in general, it’s forcing a rethinking of what constitutes a true revenue generator. Social media is not an effective sales channel for many aesthetic professionals but the passion of social consumers makes it an incredibly effective lead generator. Doctors who approach it in that light and follow up appropriately stand a much better chance of converting those leads into new patients.
The takeaway? Knowing what you want to accomplish in terms of your business goals will help you determine what parameters to measure (shares, website visits, conversions, etc.). Define your business objectives before you design your social media strategy and it’ll help you succeed at both.