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How to Determine the Value and Worth of Social Networks

Engaging your network can be a daunting task, to say the least, but it shouldn’t be.

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Jacob Lund —

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

If you take a look at the followers your brand has attracted over the years, you might be surprised to find just how many supporters you have. Why do you have them, and what have they done for you lately (and vice versa)? If you are a product influencer, the more, the merrier. If not,  just what are we doing it for? The amount of time, effort, and personal exposure all for the endorphin hit of the notification?

While you are making a name for your brand on the internet, just who is getting the reward for your efforts? Shouldn’t you share in that reward? You have the network,  are there any overlooked possibilities laying at your feet? It’s time to get to know your “network worth.”

There are many opinions on how to do this from a quantitative perspective, but that’s not exactly the aim here. According to Hootsuite, social media ROI is the “measure of all social media actions that create value, divided by the investment you made to achieve those actions.” Their formula for calculating this ROI is as follows: Value/Investment (people hours, ad budget, etc.) x 100 = social media ROI (as a percentage).

Here, I want to discuss how you can see and seek out the value of what you have built.

Culling and Cleaning Up

Engaging your network can be a daunting task, to say the least, but it shouldn’t be. You will need to break it down by groupings. How you organize and construct these groups of followers is up to you. I recommend starting with something small, perhaps sets of 10. The nuances of each group will determine how you contact and approach this subset and the reasons for this approach. If you don’t have a reason for contacting them, you need to deliberate and find that reason for greater connection. Once you have your reason, send them the pitch — perhaps let them know that you are actively scrubbing your house and came across them. If they respond, go from there. To know the value, you have to know what you have.

Here is an approach that merits consideration: “Ask what value each audience brings to your business. Comparing this with the total population you marketed to and averaging out starts to get you a bit of a ‘return on audience’ number.”

This isn’t just about gathering information and data — you should pay attention to the qualitative side of this project as well.

You are seeking qualitative gains for each of the groups you create. The quality of the gain is up to you but should be measurable in some way. Take notes, and remember one metric doesn’t rule all. Culling is a part of this practice. This exercise should breathe real life into your networking from a social media site and is simple to do; you just have to start with one group.

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Sorting and Archiving 

After you have contacted (and hopefully received responses from) the people in your network who have been dormant, you should note in your contact management software the action you will take (delete, archive, forward or schedule a follow-up). I recommend building this as a practice for your brand so that your audience and followers are the most engaged in whatever way is most significant for your business. Review the archive periodically; even though they weren’t active in your area today, they could be in the future. Also, depending on their skill sets, you may be able to refer them business, which builds goodwill. They did make it into your network for a reason, right?

Sometimes It’s Better to Give

After you have completed the review of your network, thank them for the assistance and time they extended to you while carrying out this practice. Let them know that should they be a match for someone in need of their service or product, you will pass their name along. No guarantees, of course, but by doing this, you have now let them know you respect the efforts of what they do. This is a good way to get responses and stay top of mind because they have been left with something positive.

There are a lot of benefits that may come from this from a cognitive aspect, such as jogging your memory for the network you have built. Look at it as one of those puzzles with 1,000 pieces because that’s what you have. You have to pour the pieces out of the box before you can see the full picture. While you are at it think that way too — outside the box.


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