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It's important for companies of all shapes and sizes to understand how engagement online impacts the bottom line and influences brand perception. Recently, we explored three ways digital marketers can demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of social media. But new studies suggest many brands are focusing on specific engagement, rather than indicators to measure secondary effects. How will this affect the future of social media ROI?

A New Kind of Social Media ROI

Many reports have shown that reliance on traditional social media metrics has been declining among marketers. In the past three years, according to a recent CMO survey, the percentage of marketers using a revenue-per-customer metric on social media went from seventeen to nine percent. Not only that, the percentage of marketers who are tracking conversion rates also decreased, from twenty-five to twenty-one percent.

Instead, marketers are turning their attention to different types of metrics to evaluate their social media presence. Metrics like audience reach, engagement and sentiment. While these types of indicators aren't new, they do signify an important shift in how marketers are approaching social media promotion.

In fact, one thing that audience reach, engagement and sentiment have in common is content. The quality and relevance on content can influence much of what customers and prospective audiences see, interact and feel about a brand. 

It's never been a secret that content marketing plays a crucial role in social media marketing, but too often brands and marketers have been distracted by measuring things that don't really matter anymore, such as likes and number of fans. By shifting the focus back to content, brands can start to understand what best engages users and what inspires them to heed specific calls to action. 

Assuming you have your marketing messages developed in a way that speaks the needs and wants of your target audience, there's a lot you can do to boost your social media presence. With help from the direct marketers at Fusion92, we compiled the following list: 

Promote Sharing 

It doesn't require an advanced campaign strategy or cost anything. But simply asking fans and followers to share your Facebook posts and retweet your messages can result in increased reach. Normal users' posts are seen in a relatively high percentage of friends' news feeds — between 29 percent and 35 percent, according to one study. Be careful not to ask every time you post, but, when appropriate, you’ll be amazed how far a  simple, polite “Please RT!” to the end of your tweet can help spread the word about your brand or business. 

Learning Opportunities

Stay Relevant

Most businesses spend a lot of time crafting messages that relate to specific elements of a brand or company. However, it's important to remind your audience about the relevance your products and services have within your industry or general marketplace. To stay on top of the latest industry news efficiently and effectively, use RSS feeds to organize news sources, set up notifications and alerts when specific trends and topics generate conversations. Curating content can help you position your company as an authority, while relating to your audience. 

Be Empathetic

There's a growing discussion about the role of empathy in digital marketing. As it's becoming increasingly easier to measure customer sentiments, more marketers are tailoring their content to meet the varying moods of their audiences. Users often use emoticons and hashtags to indicated their moods. It can behoove marketers to leverage these insights to adequately inform users in a way that plays to their moods. As well, empathetic marketing provides an opportunity to identify the deeper emotion-based needs of specific audiences. 

Of course, before marketers decide to adopt different metrics for monitoring social media, everyone needs to be on board. If you're measuring and reporting on things that don't yet match the goals and objectives of the organization, it will be hard to make an impact. However, as more brands begin to focus on more than the number of fans and likes, they'll see that there are many more insights that can steer them on a smarter social course. 

Image Credit: Shutterstock / LiushengFilm