If a company were to ask, “How can we determine the ROI on social?,” the proper response would be along the lines, “How do you value your conversions (micro and macro)?” The closer a company gets to understanding that a value can be placed on a marketing channel like social, the closer they are to understanding their “Why?” (as Simon Sinek would put it) and, ultimately, being a true inbound marketing company that creates inspired consumers.
The focus should not be on social creating a demand for a company’s products and services (illustrated below).
On the contrary, social helps build community. Community creates a demand for the company’s content. And finally, content creates demand for the company’s products and services. This flow aligns with the inbound marketing funnel.
Working backwards from the end, a brand can determine the value from each conversion (micro and macro) in the process. The formula is fairly straightforward for determining the value at any one point in the process:
Worth of the conversion (micro or macro) — Cost of the conversion = Value of the conversion
And if this concept were the most important part of valuing ROI on social, the rhetoric on how to value ROI would end here.
But, even more fundamental than understanding the value placed on each step of the process is understanding the brand’s belief or purpose, the brand’s Why. Most brands do not operate or interact from this standpoint. Most brands operate from the standpoint of their products and services backed by their competitive advantages.
Understand this key point: when a brand understands and operates from the Why and the Why aligns with the prospect’s purpose, marketing channels align. When marketing channels align, it does not matter if the starting point is social, or natural search, or paid search, or radio, TV or any other marketing channel. The channel can be measured (social or otherwise), but more important than even the starting point is the standpoint from which the brand operates. If the message is communicated from the Why, people who believe what the brand believes align with the brand and community is created. Illustration below:
In this light, operating from the Why, below is a manifesto from an inbound marketer to inbound marketer hopefuls. This is not a look at the What or the How of an inbound marketer. This is deeper. It is a look at the Why of an inbound marketer.
Before we get into the Inbound Marketer Manifesto below, let’s review some manifestos. History (and Wikipedia) provides us with several examples. The United States Declaration of Independence is an example of a political manifesto. Artistic manifesto examples include The Futurist Manifesto and The Art of Noises. The GNU Manifesto and the Agile Manifesto are examples of technology manifestos. So, there are many types of manifestos that cater to many audience types.
Wikipedia states: “A manifesto is a written public declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, or political party or government.” Manifestos should be transparent in nature and, in some cases, a manifesto sets aside a previously accepted public opinion about an idea and proposes new ways to think about the idea.
We are more than abstract ideas. We are statisticians and business analysts, consultants and client managers, journalists and editors, business development and lead nurturing professionals, product managers and developers. We are innovators, pioneers and thought leaders. We are inbound marketers.
We believe brands have yet to realize the art of inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is permission marketing. Inbound keeps us transparent and responsible. When utilized properly, it brings clarity to all marketing channels. It is a catalyst for discovery, ideation and data-driven decisions. It teaches us to test and retest so we can learn from our marketing insights. It teaches us that our shortcomings are mile markers on our road to success.
Inbound builds both digital and real-world communities. Inbound innately brings us together. Inbound unites family, friends, coworkers with a common cause. It calls into question interruption marketing. Unlike interruption marketing, it is not meant to only serve as a one-way broadcast medium. When we lead with inbound, we deliver the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time.
We believe in company brand strength because we first believe in personal brand strength. We nurture our personal brand, because we understand a strong personal brand is directly correlated to a strong company brand. We believe in healthy competition. We believe that we are all marketers. We vote with our time, our research, our social media accounts and sometimes our painful client recommendations.
Our community is bright, hilarious, intelligent, creative, passionate, sarcastic, respectful and driven by what’s right rather than what’s easy for the client.
We think you should join us.
In short, we are all marketers and every marketer has a brand. Our ideas are more than abstract concepts. When utilized under the lens of inbound marketing, our ideas bring true, measurable results.
E-Sports Manifesto (Sean [day9] Plott, ebb and flow): http://day9.tv/manifesto/
Permission Marketing (Seth Godin): http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/01/permission-mark.html