By Mike Wolfe

Raised hands depicting social media participation and engagement

There are several benefits of social media marketing for businesses and organizations that want to solidify their brand, lead the conversation in their industry and reach target audiences with their message. But for those that are trying to measure the ROI of social media marketing, how do they go about getting actual results from their time and effort? In other words, how does a post or tweet translate into business growth for an organization?

The value of social media marketing to businesses isn't just in the ability to promote content to the masses, it's in the ability to promote quality content that builds a community and virtual following over time. It's also in the ability to influence behavior by getting your audience to engage and interact with you. So, while it's good to be active on social media and post lots of content, the key to ROI is driving traffic to your marketing funnels and getting your target audience to convert.

In the battle between quality and quantity of social media content, quality wins. Here are a few reasons why:

Quality content builds trust and a following.

People become social media followers and fans of an organization because they trust that the content provided (the posts they will see in their daily feed) is both reliable and relevant to them. So when people decide to follow you or become a fan of yours on social media, it's likely that they saw a few posts of yours they liked before they made that decision. Your social media posts and tweets contribute to a reputation over time and if you spend more effort on trying to post often without paying attention to the quality and reliability of what you’re posting, they’ll stop listening by unfollowing you or simply ignoring your posts.

How to Grow Your Business with Social Media Marketing: Feeds and Reporting

Quality content is engaging.

Social media is meant to be engaging and social (hence the name "social media") and for organizations, more engagement on social media can translate into increased brand awareness, higher traffic to your site and more prospects in your marketing funnel. As you build trusted followers in your online community and give them quality content that's relevant to them, you'll see an increase in people viewing, liking and sharing your posts. But posts without the qualities that people like and share won't engage anyone, won't build your brand and won't drive traffic back to your site and into your marketing funnel.

With quality content comes social proof.

This topic is somewhat debatable, but as search engines look for quality content they look at the social signals to help determine rank. In other words, quality content is now measured in part by how often it's liked and shared on social media. The thought behind this is that if people are liking and sharing it on social media, it must be quality content that people would like to see in their search results as well. Some will say the SEO impact of social signals depends on the search engine, but even if Google doesn’t take social media interaction into account it may still consider posts, shares, tweets and retweets as credible backlinks — which do help search engine rankings. With daily changes to Google's algorithm, it can be difficult to keep up with so I welcome any SEO experts out there to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Another consideration is that when content is shared on social media and it receives lots of engagement such as likes and shares, the chance that others will also engage with that content is increased. Obviously, the more people share a piece of content, the more other people will see it - but most people don't have time to read and engage with every single piece of content that looks interesting to them. So when they come across content on social media that has a large amount of engagement already, that engagement can catch their attention and suggest that it's going to be quality content that's worth their time.

So how can you ensure quality when it comes to the content your organization is posting on social media? Sofware platforms like HubSpot can help you identify the channels and content that drive business growth. Consider what your organization is posting. Is it helpful information your target audience wants? Is the topic relevant to what your audience is looking for or talking about? What are the analytics telling you? Not just the likes and shares, but the clicks and conversions too. Different audiences respond in different ways and what works for one industry may not work for another, but ultimately you want to show that the time and effort you spend on social media marketing is contributing towards your business growth and company goals. And this is done through quality of what you're saying on social media, not quantity of how often you're posting.

What other arguments can be made for quality when it comes to social media? Chime in and share your thoughts!

Social Media For Small Businesses Guide
Mike Wolfe

About the author

Mike Wolfe is an associate consultant at SmartBug Media helping clients find success through inbound marketing. Read more articles by Mike Wolfe.