This week we’ve got our whole Search Factory team out and about in town attending a presentation held by Interactive Minds in Brisbane on the topic of calculating social media ROI. One of the speakers, Emma Croston from News Queensland, pointed out some alarming facts and figures on how Australian businesses are using social media as part of their online marketing strategies. When asked how much their businesses invest in social media, a whopping 54% of large-sized businesses and more than one-third of all medium-sized ones actually said they have no idea:

These figures are based on a study Yellow Pages and Sensis carried out, 2012 Yellow Social Media Report, which is one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind in Australia.

Digging further into this 53-page report, I found a couple of other interesting facts that I’d like to highlight which might help you to evaluate your social media strategy:

1. Do businesses believe that social media investment will contribute to an increase in sales? Similar to the previous question, as the businesses grow larger the more they are uncertain about whether social media will bring in any solid ROI (or most of them probably don’t have the reporting function to quantify social medial ROI).

2. What do consumers want from businesses or brands followed? It comes as no surprises that freebies top the list:

3. So, knowing that people are mainly looking for discounts and giveaways from brands on social media, what is the actual percentage of businesses that offer incentives to consumer via social media? Looks like Australian businesses all need to listen up a little bit more on what their consumers want as the current status shows only one in three of them offer some sort of incentives:

4. How do businesses measure social media success? More than two-thirds of large businesses look at the number of likes/ followers/ subscribers as the important metrics, while only 15% of them measure sales or profits as a direct result of social media activities.

Some of the above responses send a shocking alarm – it’s time for large businesses to take a step back and re-evaluate the purpose of their social media presence. What do 500K ‘Likes’ mean to your business apart from the ‘brag factor’? Is your brand actively chasing social followers just because you just want to be seen as you’re ‘in the game’? How do your social media strategies align to your business objectives? One good exercise to do is to check against your business goals, make sure any social media investment you made, be it time-wise or financial, ticks the boxes of what you want your brand to achieve.