Social media offers opportunities that traditional platforms don’t: British Business Group

Social media provides a direct ROI that is simple to measure, despite businessmen claiming the contrary, says Alan Devereux, Communications Officer at the British Business Group, Dubai & Northern Emerates.

The common stumbling block in enterprises really embracing social media is uncertainty over whether it provides real ROI and how that can be measured. However, Devereux , who was speaking at the first day of Digital Media Forum 2012 at the Habtoor Grand Hotel, does not understand why these questions are still being asked.

“Why do people not see the simplest ways to manage ROI? Money going out there, money coming in here – where is it coming from? There are tools in place. It’s really simple,” Devereux said.

“The tools you can do this with are very simple, like Google Analytics – we all know what these services are. There’s nothing dramatic about it. If you can match up businesses to your website – bounce rates, people spending certain amounts of time on certain pages – then you can generate sales,” he added.

However, online brand strategist Giovanni Galluci said a lot of businessmen do not have the time to develop the knowledge to do those things.

“The issue with social media with the people that are not living and breathing this stuff every day is that there is not a direct line from Twitter to the cash register. We know what that line is because we know the tools. So for us it seems kind of common sense, but to the general business public, Twitter to the register doesn’t happen,” Galluci said.

If businesses do invest the time in learning these things, he went on to say, it offers opportunities traditional platforms can’t.

“Before, you advertised in a particular newspaper or magazine and then you waited for the publishers to tell you how many people saw it. Online comes around and we can measure instantly. We can count down to the dirham to see exactly what people’s behaviour was online, and we can see exactly what we’ve spent on our efforts for this amount of generation,” he said.

“The issue we have in social media is the first question a businessman asks is, where’s the ROI? But when you’re talking about the social space, people are happy to talk with brands and develop relationships with them on their terms, and this is something unparalleled on other platforms,” he added.

Devereux said he believes LinkedIn is the best social media site from a business perspective, because it directly generates sales.

“We first realised we were making money from LinkedIn because people were coming from LinkedIn, spending eight minutes on the site and then disappearing. Eight minutes bounce rate means they are going from page to page, which means they are registering for events. So it’s really quite easy to measure ROI if you know particularly what you are looking for,” he said.

With Facebook and Twitter, Devereux was less enthused. He said many businesses only use them because they think they have to.

“We have a Facebook page, and it’s a passive page. We don’t do anything with it. It’s there because there is 800 million on Facebook so how can we not have a page. It doesn’t mean you have to update it all the time. Same with Twitter, unless I’m at an event tweeting, it’s just adverts going out to keep the unfollower software away. There needs to be a presence where your consumers are. To what element you act upon and sell to them is the important part,” Devereux said.

“We very rarely get anything from our Facebook page. To be honest we just use it for hosting images for our website. We have about 500 people in there. I can’t speak to them and actively engage with them because I don’t know their location, I don’t know who they are, I don’t know how likely they are to be someone we’d want to target, so waste all that time going through 500 profiles when on LinkedIn I can see all that information instantly and actively target them?” he added.

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