When an investment in social media marketing is considered by executives, it’s common to hear objections like “prove to me we can make money” or “where’s the ROI?”, regardless of whether the organization is an extremely large business or a mom and pop shop.
Such classic concerns actually make a ton of sense. Social media certainly can be a double-edged sword. On one hand brands must consider the downside—that inviting users into the public corporate communications stream might mean dirty laundry is aired on the street. Among the upsides brands can enjoy increased visibility, better customer service and increased sales as happy customers champion the brand’s reputation in public. Even so, marketing bosses are often wary of the risks.
We’ve noted that setting assertive strategies supported by measurable KPIs (key performance indicators/goals) tend to help remove—or at least mitigate—our clients’ bosses apprehensive chortling about social media forays. Here are some strategies we’ve found effective in persuading key stakeholders about the value of social media marketing. Then I’ll offer some ideas regarding metrics by which to measure success.
Strategy #1: Identify and target English-speaking international users.
It often moves the supervisorial needle when the team goal is to expand the pot of English-speaking personas, by identifying users’ global social/contextual space. For instance in there are tens of millions of Facebook users who speak English and don’t live in the United States, UK or Canada. Include authority users at the individual user and clustered level in this research.
Strategy #2: Engage new users and build permanent community. Granted, this sounds a bit clichéd, but hear me out.
I’ve seen the look on clients’ faces as conversational marketing centered here in the good ol’ USA, Australia, New Zealand, India, the Philippines or Singapore resulted in expanded community. Humans usually like to interact with each other and the companies they do business with. Prove to your team leader that it’s possible to locate existing and new customers to interact with your brand and your team leader might understand the opportunity. Sales often follow new customers who stick around.
Strategy #3: Enhance brand visibility. Forge fledgling, expanding and quantifiable community to improve branding, keyword ranking, universal organic search results and measurable sales.
It’s easy to champion the value of listening to customers. They’re gong to make feelings known in public whether we’re listening or not, so we might as well be there. A commitment to hearing customers facilitates better service, which can be measured (see KPIs below).
We’ve not met a CMO yet who does not understand the benefit of enhanced keyword rankings, traffic or improved presence in universal search verticals. Most business leaders understand the value of creating measurable syndicated content channels to disseminate information if the result is new and retained users. To many it’s not a very far reach to justify the value of 47,000 Twitter followers, compared to the value of a focused customer email list. Set these strategies and measure them.
Strategy #4: Prove increased usage of customer service tools with social/PPC mashups. Seed usage of customer support mechanism(s) hosted on social channels by driving search traffic using paid search via Google, Yahoo and Bing for customer service queries. There are many mashup opportunities to serve customers via social channels. Be it a moderated fan page on Facebook, Twitter community manager or YouTube video FAQs, the only limit is creativity. Send users to social support tools by driving them from search as they seek very specific solutions like owner manuals, answers to common questions, and so on. Measure if they come back and use the tools again.
To my mind the holy grail of social media is to solve customer service issues by utilizing social media platforms and tools as customer service mechanisms. Bosses seem to understand the meaning and advantages of improved customer service via any channel.
Strategy #5: Prove social branding increases sales. Almost nothing succeeds like making more money for your boss to ship to corporate bean counters. Provide evidence you can lift paid search campaigns by branding in Facebook and LinkedIn Ads to target highly targeted demographics at high impression/low cost volume.
Social media KPIs for measuring strategic success
Strategies are nice but can ring hollow without the means to measure results. Here’s a starting list of metrics to support the strategies proffered above:
- Measure new and retained unique friends at measurable CPUF (cost per unique friend).
- Measure proclivity to become a customer.
- Measure e-commerce lift without branding compared to e-commerce lift with Facebook and LinkedIn Ads branding in different geographic areas.
- Measure SEO prominence as indicated by traffic to social assets and feed from universal organic search.
- Measure customer service usage on social assets.
- Measure engagement in participation threads, both on and off site.
- Measure inbound traffic to and from the feed and divisional site (churn).
- Measure socio-global expansion as indicated by traffic, sales and support tool usage.
- Measure whether users return on any of these nodes.
Corporate marketing supervisors usually don’t want to throw budget in a black hole, especially given the double-edged sword of social media. We’ve found that setting clear strategies along with associated KPIs can focus the entire process as well as expectations regarding how success will be measured. Use these ideas as starting points for your own planning and go great guns!
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