ROI Made Easy

ROI Made Easy
By Michael Stahl

Nothing in the world of social media management scares me more than providing proof of a return on investment, or ROI, to a client. Any instance in which that acronym is even whispered finds me consequently looking for the nearest door. One time I settled for a window with a fire escape. It’s hard to blame business owners for requesting such information, it is their money after all. But I’d rather they offer me a swift kick to the shin of a leg of their choice at our weekly meeting than ask how many patrons Twitter brought to their door or website recently. All the Google analytics, Facebook reach statistics, retweets, and new followers don’t really add up to dollars.

The social media manager’s services, on the other hand, certainly add up to dollars, namely in the company’s cost of operation. But unlike a steak at a restaurant or a pair of jeans on sale at an online store, there isn’t much of a palpable link between the social media manager’s place within the business model and their impact on the bottom line. Contests, however, can construct a bridge for the customer, leading them from social media sites directly to the business. And that’s a route the social media manager should drive on as well.

I previously wrote that there was a courtship involved in my nailing down Queens Comfort, a small southern food restaurant in Astoria, New York, as a client. Though there were many reasons behind the owner’s skepticism of hiring a social media manager, one thing that was holding him back was, you guessed it, money. I offered to work pro bono for two weeks as an audition of sorts. He agreed, but that meant I had to act fast and quickly present some semblance of a potential ROI. Inside the dining hall of the restaurant is a projector screen where films, usually old horror or thriller flicks, run on a loop. The inspiration behind Queens Comfort’s Social Media Trivia Game was born.

It was easy. Each Thursday I’d post a picture of an actor on Facebook with a fun fact about their life and point out that they once starred in a Queens Comfort movie fave. “What’s his/her name?” would close the post, along with a call to action to the Queens Comfort faithful to provide the actor’s name to their server during Saturday’s brunch as a kind of secret password. I also tweeted out the necessary information a few times as well. After consulting with the owner about a prize for those who bore the trivia answer, he decided to offer a free dessert to them as long as they purchased a main course first.

During the trivia’s launch-week Saturday brunch, two people cashed in, but by the second week, followers were picking up on it, and six more dropped in for their feast. I became a paid employee that very night.

One of the underlying challenges with a trivia contest such as this one is finding the perfect level of difficulty. In my experience, the question should be rather easy. As people scroll through their Facebook and Twitter feeds, they’re usually looking for morsels of entertainment, not a New Yorker feature. If a Social Media Trivia question is too hard, you, the social media manager, are decreasing its effectiveness because there is not a great chance that many people will do actual research to get a free dessert or whatever, likely meager prize your client will offer up. However, if the trivia question is too easy, you run the risk of insulting your followers’ intelligence, which will be a turn off and, obviously, counterproductive. So, in the contest’s ability to challenge while being appealing, lies the contest’s quality.

Cater a trivia contest to your client and find out what prize they want to giveaway when you feel the ROI heat. It’s a fun, easy, interactive, and effective way to get followers to become patrons of your client’s business once again. Plus, it gives folks an actual impetus to follow a business on the various social media networks, thus truly making that bruise free leg of the company’s marketing department viable.

Michael Stahl is a journalist, social media manager & strategist. Hailing from Astoria, New York, his articles and essays have appeared in several online and print publications. He is currently accepting new social media clients, so if you’d like to procure his services, contact him at Follow him on Twitter too @MichaelRStahl.

Photo Credit: Unhindered by Talent via Photo Pin | Creative Commons