Let’s start with the good news: Advisors across the nation are finding success using social media to enhance their business.  The bad news? Success can be defined in many ways, and may be different for each advisor. Thus, the questions remain: how will you measure the success of your social media efforts, and have you defined what you are trying to accomplish? 

Before you can determine your ROI, you must decide what you want to accomplish.  Otherwise, your efforts may be sporadic at best, and your results will reflect the lack of focus.  Here are three simple steps to help you get started with defining your purpose and measuring the ROI of your social media efforts.

Step 1: Define your purpose.  Whether your goal is brand awareness, customer service, client retention, or lead generation through referrals, understanding your purpose will help you measure your results over the long-term.  As with any marketing endeavor, define what you want to accomplish, and then select the tools (platforms) that will help you achieve your goals. Here’s a tip: Don’t think of social media as a sales tool to position your products and services, but rather as a communication tool to build rapport, create open communication with clients and prospects, and build credibility within your community.   People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. 

Step 2: Select the platforms that best support your purpose. Choosing the right platforms is an important part of your social media campaign planning. To make the selection easier, first define the amount of time you and/or your staff can allocate to keeping the platforms current and interactive.  If you launch too many platforms, your content may become static and lack engagement. The resultant campaign could ultimately diminish your ROI. 

Step 3: Establish what you will measure to define success.  For some it may be the number of “likes” or fans on Facebook, the number of “re-tweets,” or the number of mentions on Twitter. For others, it may be the number of group members and posts within a group you created on LinkedIn. If your goal is to obtain more referrals, then perhaps you would measure the number of introductions on LinkedIn. For those seeking to build brand awareness & engagement, creating an interactive fan page on Facebook and tracking the number of fans as well as posts and comments on your wall would be a good start. 

You can find a wealth of information online regarding this topic, but before diving into the world of social media, be sure to check with your compliance department (registered reps) to ensure you are following their social media guidelines.  In the end, how will you define your social media success and measure your ROI?  Your comments are encouraged.