Calculating Your Social Media ROI: What Are You Really Getting Out of It?
By Patrick Ahler Partner & Vice President of Marketing, Lights On Digital | February 25, 2018
77% of marketersare utilizing at least one form of social media, and hotels are no exception. It can be difficult, however, to track how much profit you can return to your property from the effort and expense you put into your social media pages, which is your ROI (return on investment). According to a survey conducted by Convenience and Convert,41% of businesses have no clue as to the value of their social media activity. From failure to track the analytics, to not utilizing measurement tools, businesses remain in the dark with respect to their social media ROI accounting.
Is Social Media Advertising Appropriate for My Hotel?
It is important to initially note that social media activity is more impactful on higher star properties with amenities that appeal to those seeking leisurely accommodations in competitive locations. Typically, a budget motel on a remote highway is not likely to benefit much.
Additionally, social media success relies heavily upon a reasonable advertising budget that utilizes quality media content including professionally produced video and images. If you doubt the value of video,consider that it is projected to claim over 80% of all web traffic by next year and adding a video to your landing page can boost click-through rates by over 200%.
Best Tools For Tracking Social Media ROI
There are a number of platforms that you can use that measure various aspects of your social media performance. One of the most useful is Google Analytics. The primary function of Google Analytics is to measure the traffic to websites, but there are other settings within the program that are quite useful for social media ROI. Sprout Socialexplains ways to set up goals for your social media platforms such as gaining a targeted number of followers or receiving clicks on links within your platform back to your website. They also point out that there are options to track the lifetime value of a customer and calculate the average sale going back to your website. In other words, you can quantify how many people are viewing your social media, clicking the link to your website, and actually booking a hotel room.
Social media giant Hootsuite is similar to email pro MailChimp,but more in-depth when it comes to analytics and functions. A comparison shows that both achieve 98% customer satisfaction. You can schedule connections across all of your social media and email platforms so you don’t have to miss a day of presence. Hootsuite also has an application to track ROI by reporting on how well your campaigns are doing and relaying mentions of you and your competitors.
The beauty of Hootsuite is it can handle all social media platforms, and you can schedule posts on all of your platforms to maintain consistency with your presence. There is also a function where you can search for a keyword, and it will let you know how widespread its use is throughout your platforms. So, if there’s an event in the same town as your hotel, you can use that event name to attract attention to your hotel, and stay tuned into the recent conversation.
What Variables Should I Account For?
The variables aspect of social media ROI makes it difficult to track an exact dollar amount of benefit. Since social media platforms are free to acquire, it would be easy to assume that if you receive any business out of your presence, it would be an automatic profit. This isn’t necessarily true!
Just calculating the return on investment can be a project. But the more important metric is Return of Influence because this is a more accurate way to represent the success of your hotel’s presence. >Aremorch.comstates that many hotels expect the same ROI results as they achieve through traditional marketing strategies, which puts them into what they call the “Reaction” stage. But social media doesn’t work this way, which is why influence is likely a more vital characteristic. And, influence is generated by repetition and reliable sources, such as friends or reputable firms.
The easy part of calculating ROI is adding up how much you are spending on resources. This is everything from paying for ads or programs to measuring analytics, to the equipment you might need like cameras, lighting, or computer software such as Photoshop or Illustrator. To effectively conduct social media marketing without driving yourself crazy, you’re also well-advised to hire one or more full-time employees depending on the size of the market you want your hotel to reach. All of this will inevitably come out of your bottom line after you factor in the influence. This reality stops many people right there – but it shouldn’t.
You can calculate this through a pretty straightforward equation to get the basic costs factored into your ROI:
ROI = (Earnings – Costs) x 100 / Costs
The most challenging aspect can be calculating your hotel’s income from social media pages when a large portion of the expense is your own time. Unless you have a full time paid marketing manager, time expended on your social media pages is not so easily quantified. Regardless of who is doing the work, you’ll have to also factor in their time spent taking photos, writing posts, or creating content, depending on the specific platform. Instagram is a classic example of how muddled time can get when dealing with social media profits.
Let’s say you’re promoting your hotel for a holiday weekend, and you want an image themed around that holiday. You could potentially spend a large part of the day gathering materials, finding a location, getting just the right photo, and then uploading it to Instagram with a caption and maybe some added graphics. All of these need to be accounted for as expenses weighed against how much benefit you’re gaining by producing regular content.
How Do I Track My Social Media ROI?
Measuring your day-to-day ROI for your hotel is already a task, so it’s tempting to ignore the tracking of expenses and benefits of social media. However, to run a truly successful social media campaign, it takes careful planning. Altimeter Group concludes that based on their survey, about 63 percent of brands use one or two people to measure the success of their social media ROI. For your hotel, these are two people tasked with not only the upkeep of the pages but also tracking what needs improvment. Some of the main tasks for employees in charge of social media include:
- Deciding which social media platforms are the most profitable
- Frequently measuring which platforms need attention
- Making productive changes and additions to support your social media ROI
Keep in mind that rather than hiring two full-time people in-house, it makes much more sense for most hotels to hire an agency that specializes in social media marketing. Then, you can easily gauge the cost/benefit by simply comparing your bookings directly resulting from social media activities to the monthly invoice from that agency. Reputable firms will provide you with measurable results that chart growth or decline in sales factoring in seasonal variables.
Be Sure to Use Good Tools
It’s helpful to plot everything out so that it can be presented to whoever needs to view the results and makes it easier to keep track of your analysis. This is where Google Analytics becomes very useful. If you are not currently using this excellent free diagnostic tool, it’s time to begin.
The chart below displays the four most popular social media sites for U.S. hotels. Obviously, Facebook should be everyone’s priority but ignoring any of these amounts to leaving money on the table.
Ideally, your social media manager or agency is working all four and allocating time based upon these numbers.
Gartnernotes that the general shift from the one-time placement with paid search marketing to social media ongoing engagement is going to help your hotel’s overall ROI because you can so easily create, edit, and expand your content through social media.
You Control Your Marketing Content
For independent hotel owners, a prime benefit of social media marketing is the ability to self-direct the content. This is one reason savvy boutique hotels were quick to move from standard marketing to digital marketing, according to hospitalitynet.org.Larger chain hotels have to worry about consistency across the board and make sure all of their hotels fit the “aesthetic” that they’ve advertised. The downside to this is that the more changes and additions you add to your social media pages, the more variables there are to track and account for when deducting the resources to find your profit margins.
Something else to keep in mind that will affect the lifetime value of a customer is the ability to communicate directly with your guests through social media. It’s not always about how many followers you have or how many likes you get. Being able to reach out to people via social media can present amazing opportunities. Guests appreciate that if they have a question they can ask it on your social media page and get a fast response even if it wasn’t specific to the post. This conveys that you are willing and available to answer questions immediately and publicly. This then results in your guest mentioning or tagging you on social media and having their friends observe an unbiased experience at your hotel. Through the influence of interaction on social media, you have the potential to gain 15-25% ROE (return on engagement)and a possible ten-fold increase on your ROI.
When Should I Get Started?
Today! We all know that technology is driving the future, and social media will be a large part of that. The more you know about your social media pages, and how effective they are, the better. Once you find your sweet spot with respect to running each platform, your hotel will gain more exposure, and continue to grow, increasing your ROI. Being able to track social media and deciding what needs improvement will set you up for success across the board for all of your digital marketing.
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