Article: What is The RoI of Social Media

#Social Media

What is The RoI of Social Media

HR needs to have clarity on the objective of the social media strategy and not base its RoI on easy-to-count metrics
What is The RoI of Social Media

A big mistake that most companies make is to jump onto the social media bandwagon without identifying the key business objective and then trying to measure irrelevant outcomes


Social media is drastically redefining how companies reach out to their talent or even how job seekers themselves are managing their social media personalities to suit companies’ requirements. Even customers are reaching out to companies using this medium to address their grievances.

Results from Jobvite’s Sixth Annual Social Recruiting Survey doesn’t surprise at all. The survey, completed in July 2013, shows that social recruiting has emerged as an essential HR practice used by 94 per cent of surveyed recruiters across industries. Many studies indicate that more companies are increasingly working towards enhancing their presence on various social networks. But is that sufficient?

During the 2013 Social Media in Talent Management Conclave organized by People Matters and CareerBuilder, Elango R, EVP & Global CHRO, MphasiS, said HR need to make social media a strategic component rather than a tick-in-the-box exercise. He says, “Social media has reached a stage where just being there might not work anymore. It is time to focus on what is the strategy around it. HR should start using this more as a component of strategy and less as a check in the box.”

A recent HBR research – based on an online survey and covering organization in North America, EMEA and Asia – titled “The New Conversation: Taking Social Media From Talk to Action” clearly shows that this is an area that needs a lot of work. Though companies are investing time and energy on making their social media presence felt, in most of the cases there is little effort to measure the Return on Investment (RoI) of the entire exercise. According to this report, 31 per cent of the companies say that they do not measure effectiveness of social media and less than 23 per cent of the companies use social media analytic tools. Further, only 12 per cent companies said that they believed they were effectively using social media. Clearly, measuring outcomes is one area where most of the companies lag behind.

What do you want to derive out of it?

Most HR departments try to make optimum use of social media in these four areas: Relationship building, employer branding, active recruitment and cost optimization. Debolina Dutta, GM – Talent Acquisition, United Spirits, suggests two important points for HR to ponder on. She says, “It is necessary for HR to step back and see what it wants to achieve out of its social media strategy. Accordingly, they will then identify and track the metrics to measure the efficacy of these efforts.”

Often the success of a company’s social media strategy is measured on easy-to-count metrics such as number of followers, number of likes or shares, applicants, website visitors, which, to a great extent, is flawed. The fact is these metrics aren’t relevant for every aspect. For instance, number of likes and shares do not tell anything about the success of recruitment strategy. Dutta gives another example, “Positions you filled or the time you took to fill are irrelevant when it comes to measuring the success of employer branding initiatives for which metrics to measure engagement levels should be developed. A big mistake is to jump onto the social media bandwagon without identifying the key business objective and then measure irrelevant outcomes.”

Emphasizing why HR needs to have clarity on the need, objective and process of the social media strategy, Elango says, “The HR needs to ask four vital questions: Why does it need a social media strategy, what it wants to achieve from it, how should it go about it and when.”

The answer to “why” will give clarity about the objective i.e. whether the company wants to tap social media for recruitments, employer branding, cost optimization, or relationship building. The “What” should focus on concrete results that the company wants to achieve towards its social media objective. For instance, if the focus is on recruitment, getting in touch with alumni groups of top B-schools etc is something a company might want to do. The answer to “how” is the concrete strategy about what steps should be taken to achieve these results: Selection of right platforms, engagement initiatives, response mechanism etc are a part of this.

A crucial but often ignored part is ‘when’ to go social. The answer is: Only when you are ready. Manoj Biswas, Managing Director-HR, Accenture India, says, “Social media strategy should be based on clarity about brand positioning. Go ahead when you are fully prepared and clear about how you want to position your brand on the social media because once posted your activities cannot be erased from it because of its reach.” The second step is to understand what you want your social media strategy to achieve and formulate effective metrics to measure the RoI.

Taking social media strategy to next level

The next step is to think about making the radius of impact much larger than mere presence on social media platforms. While using social media for employee engagement and understanding general sentiment within the organization is the next obvious step, Biswas emphasizes on linking social media strategy with other pieces of digitization, cloud etc and using analytics to draw conclusions in totality. He says, “To increase the circumference of influence, one of the things that we are looking at is combining social media and the digital landscape. Such marriage may actually transcend and challenge the entire landscape of recruitment as we have heard of.”

Four mistakes you shouldn’t commit

  1. Clarity about brand positioning is the basic step. Know how you want to position yourself and design the entire strategy around that brand image.
  2. Be clear about what you want to achieve through your social media strategy. Selection of platform should be based on that.
  3. Being unresponsive to complaints or queries is a lethal mistake. Have the right response mechanism in place and review it occasionally.
  4. Choose the right metrics to measure the efficacy of your social media objectives.

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Topics: #Social Media, #HRInsights, #Trends

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