Category Archives: social media ROI

9 Factors Separate Social Marketers that are Ready to Kick Butt

It was seven years ago that my marketing career took a new turn to the world of social marketing. I noticed early, that brands would lose some control of their position and reputation as dictated by the democratized public. The people had a strong set of platforms to share their likes and dislikes for companies, brands, and products. In fact these objective opinions and declarations trump brand-marketing communication. The audiences’ voice is loud and moves fast.

Then I felt like I was pushing a boulder uphill in social marketing. But now I see the struggle easing and a good deal of the smoke clearing. I see that brands want to plug into their audiences’ behaviors and actions. Companies have a strong interest in leveraging digital and social technologies. Trepidation has been replaced by exuberance and to outsource or employ knowledgeable and experienced social marketers. And now I see that there are a number of social marketers ready to kick butt and make a real difference in empirical results that align to companies’ KPIs (key performance indicators).

social marketing success

So what are those successful social marketers doing that set them apart from wanna-bes? There are nine factors or social marketing practices that when executed together distinguish social marketers that will rise to the top.

1) Strategy – A while back I wrote an article “Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up.” You cannot just “do social.” You must start with a mission, goal and objective, and follow up the documented strategy with a plan.

2) Listening – When it comes to social marketing, I know you are talking, but are you listening. A key element to building a relationship is listening. I always liked the line; “we have two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as mush as we talk.” Social marketing champions listen to people talking on the brand’s digital and social assets and the ones that the brand does not own. They listen for brand mentions as well as keywords that are relevant in the brand category.

3) Empathy – probably the greatest factor in social marketing success is having complete understanding and empathy for your audience. Successful marketers understand their audience. They know what turns them on and turns them off as well as what motivates them to deliver word of mouth marketing for the brand.

4) Messaging Strategy – this is a function straight out of marketing communications 101, but at the same time not an area the social marketer always tackles. Shrewd social marketers know exactly how they want their brand to look and sound in social channels. They make sure all communication and correspondence uphold the brand image they desire in social communications.

5) Content Strategy and Plan – In order to have a successful brand social presence, you need to have a continuous and compelling stream of content. Brands need to think like media companies. Many marketers find it difficult to shift from an advertorial mentality to a softer content marketing approach. (Required as a function of target audience perception and behavior.) To help here, I have offered advice. Start with three articles from this year – a) “4 Tips for Winning Content,” “Delivering the Content Your Audience Wants,” and “The Content Development Plan Every Marketer Should Use.”

6) Sharing – the best social marketers understand and plan how to get their brand content shared. It is more than simply having social widgets attached to a blog article. Rich relationship building and seeding various calls to action spawn greater brand sharing.

7) Personalization and Engagement Plan – in the day and age where just about every brand is going to partake in social media, successful brands need to be most relevant to their audience. Relevance comes from understanding individuals through engagement and personalization. Leading social marketers increase relevancy to their audience by having personalized communication and well defined engagement plans and then fine-tuning them based upon executional results.

8) Community – More and more social marketers and community managers are learning from the strengths and shortcomings of having a brand presence on Facebook. They are learning the true value of having an online community of loyalists and advocates that can be unleashed to do marketing on behalf of a brand. Now, Facebook has practically abandoned non-paid brand presence. At the same time, brand communities activate loyalists to produce advocates. Given these circumstances, I recommend you check out “Successful Social Marketing – Integrating Content and Community.”

9) Know How to Measure Results – I do not care what role anyone has in any line of business. You have to show results that are meaningful to the executive team. For social marketers this means going beyond “reach and engagement” because most executives I know cannot translate “reach and engagement” to their KPIs. If this is an area that still has you befuddled read “Here is the ROI for Social Marketing.”

So yes … I think there is a fair share of movers and shakers in the social marketing arena. And yes there are still a greater number of fakers out there. But the point is that you now have a large enough talent pool to go after to make a difference in your business. Drill into your candidates and make sure they have experience in the 9 areas I outlined above. And as always, if you have a question or need some help, contact me.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand marketing, brands, community, content marketing, Facebook, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

Here is the ROI for Social Marketing

social marketing ROISocial marketing ROI; not social media ROI. I hope everyone realizes that “Social Media is Not Social Marketing and Why It Matters.” Additionally, we are talking about social marketing. Not social sales. A successful marketing outcome is lead generation, which is one step short of sales. The successful outcome of sales is a sale. (Pretty profound – huh?)

It is also worth noting that it is very difficult to attribute a specific sale to a social interaction. First of all, many peer-to-peer conversations cannot be monitored. If a verbal exchange happens where one participant recommends a product/service to another and the recipient responds with a purchase, attribution is near impossible. Similarly, most conversations on individuals’ social channels are private. If someone asks their friends for a recommendation on Facebook, and people reply, the individual’s privacy settings most often eliminates the ability to track such exchanges.

So the ROI of social marketing is not sales. It is audience adoption, development, and relationship building to yield awareness, consideration, enthusiasm, loyalty, and advocacy for a brand. And take note that I said brand. Not product/service. The brand is an extension beyond the product or service. It is the personality, stories beyond and overall customer experience that go beyond the specific product/service.

So what exactly does audience adoption, development, and relationship building mean such that it can be measured to evaluate ROI. Let’s start theoretically and then we will move to empirical.

Audience adoption and development means that you are taking the appropriate steps to make target segments (not the entire universe) aware of your offering. You do this by engaging in places the target segments frequent. You aim to go beyond getting their attention and actually get them attracted to your brand. Continuous audience development means that you remain an active participant in the digital channels they frequent so they start to build affinity for your brand. Relationship building continues when your target segment members literarily opt in to be part of your audience by their action. They sign up to receive emails, follow you, like you, and subscribe to your blog/site via RSS. Once they have become a member of your audience you have an opportunity to really enhance their user experience and develop an emotional bond. And the most successful outcome of the relationship for a brand is not a sale. It is having that individual refer and market your product for you. Yes they will buy the product along the way, but if they can influence people to try your product, ultimately you will yield grander sales.

So that is the theoretical side. But as one post-it read on the door of an executive at an agency where I worked, “there is no time for theoretical,” I’ll give you the empirical ROI. That is what matters for all types of executives.

Over two years ago, I wrote an article “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.” But like I said in the beginning of this article, social marketing is not social media. So that article requires an update. (And thus this article. :) ) In the original article, I made a point that social was poor to be used as a direct sales tool. But I said social was excellent for teeing up sales as a function of the other stages of a sales/marketing funnel – awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. I talked about a Social Brand Index I formulated which was a complex measurement with different coefficients for various parameters highlighting increased awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Below is a chart showing some of the parameters I used.

measured-social-media

But here’s the thing. Yes, successful social marketing increases the Social Brand Index month over month. But the real ROI of social marketing comes from your specific goals and objectives.

First understand what social marketing CAN do – the theory behind it. The value related to audience adoption and development, and relationship building. Understand how those facets relate to your company’s KPIs (key performance indicators). Determine what you want to accomplish, your goals and objectives. Back to marketing and lead generation … Do you need to increase awareness and consideration? Understand your company’s drivers. For example, many companies look at the cost of customer acquisition versus retaining customers. Others look at lifetime value of a customer. Loyalty is key in both these areas. And then of course there is the paramount value of social marketing – advocacy. Advocacy is the ability to unleash objective individuals to market your product/service to their friends, family, and colleagues. Is your company looking to accomplish this?

Social can do all these things, but you may be focused on some specific objectives. Determine this in the beginning of your social marketing effort. Then collect the data and show trending empirical results. Review some of the parameters I provided in the chart above and tweak for your own scenario. This is YOUR ROI. When you make a friend, what is the value of that friend? Different people would answer this question in many different ways. It is analogous with social marketing and companies. Everyone knows there is value in audience adoption and development. Everyone knows there is value in building relationships. But the ROI (the value) of these activities may be different for companies based upon the companies’ KPIs. It is also worth mentioning that different social marketing executions will yield various results on increasing awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

In summation, the ROI of social marketing IS audience adoption and development as well as relationship building. Social marketing does have an ROI and can be measured. Based upon specific goals and objectives, various companies can measure social marketing ROI differently. But social marketing ROI can be measured if your strategy addresses what you look to accomplish and how the social marketing strategy contributes to your organization’s KPIs.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under measuring social media, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

All You Should Know About Social Marketing to Be Successful

I have been blogging now for five years on the topic of social media and social marketing. I have shared a great deal of information with regards to social best practices, case examples, integration, and organizational implementations. There is a wealth of information contained here within The SocialSteve Blog. But wouldn’t it be nice if it could all be pulled together in one article? (Really – that is impossible.) But I will attempt to give you a “Cliff Notes” version of what you need to know about social marketing that I have covered in my blog.

All You Need to Know About Social Marketing

So lets get cracking and I will refer you to some key highlights from The SocialSteve Blog …

The first thing to realize is that brands need to use social media to enhance their brand image as covered in the article “Brands in the Age of Social Media.” Some brands were initially apprehensive to get involved in social media because they believed that they lost control of their brand position. Certainly, objective audience postings are more believable than subjective brand communication, but administration of good traditional marketing practices and utilization of social marketing highly increases company-driven brand influence.

Social media has put brand reputation in the hands of the democracy of users. Thus, brands must build strong relationships with users. And the way to do this from the start is to have complete empathy for the target audience. Yes “empathy” is “The Most Important Word for Marketing.” And once you have empathy for your target audience, “Connections and Relationships are No Different for Social Media” than in “regular” social situations.

So far, I have mentioned some of the general mentalities required for successful marketing, but generalities are not enough. You must understand the “Three Social Marketing Fundamentals.” The first fundamental starts with a strong and inseparable link between content and social marketing. A content strategy and social marketing strategy must be determined in unison. The brand definition is the center point of marketing strategy and content must reinforce what the brand is about without directly referring to the product. The social marketing strategy must then address how the content is to be proliferated such that readers/viewers/contributors share the content and some even become advocates. Throughout my blogging career (really not a career but a platform to share), I have given much coverage to content. It is imperative – crappy content, crappy social marketing; stellar content by the perception of the target audience, damn good chance of winning social marketing. Consider reading through some selected content article highlights:

Content Marketing – A Must for Marketing Communications
4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy
7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business
The Power of UGC (User Generate Content) for Social Marketing
Evolving Social Media Marketing – From Content Marketing to Contextual Content Marketing
If a Picture is Worth 1000 Words, What is the Value of a 6-Second Video #Vine

The next social marketing fundamental is far too often missed. Social marketing is not about building the social field of dreams and having people show up. Social marketing starts by going to relevant conversations where they exist as opposed to expecting a crowd to show up on your Facebook page or simply following your Twitter feed. You need to go beyond your own social assets and go where the existing conversation exists and start to engage there. Early on, I coined the social media A-Path. The A-Path allows social marketers to traverse their target audience through a sequential path increasing commitment to brand at each stage. The A-Path starts by getting brand Attention, followed by Attraction, then Affinity, Audience, and Advocacy. The early part of this path is accomplished on social channels other than the ones the brand owns and manages. As you progress your audience through the A-Path you slowly wean users to brand-owned social channels. This method is described in “Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media.” When using this approach, marketers need to understand “When to Ask for a “Call-to-Action’ in Social Media.” Following this approach provides an understanding of how “Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales.” You will also see the relationship of “Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel.” And one other note on this holistic approach to social marketing … Do not jump to a conclusion that your Facebook “likers” are your audience. Understand “Where ‘Audience’ Fits in Social Media.” It is likely different than you assume.

And now the last imperative social marketing fundamental is to “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like.” Specifically, I am talking about social media marketing measurement. The referenced article outlines that awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy should be measured. Not sales. Parameters to be measured in the four categories are covered in the article. When it comes to measurement and “Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term.”

So you have the fundamentals down, right? Now, where do you start? “Before You Start with Social Media” you need to apply marketing basics. The referenced article explains the need to understand the brand and its position, defining a communication or campaign objective, as well as defining a communication plan. A presentation deck is provided to take you through the steps. The deck was later updated in a more recent post, “University Social Marketing Presentation.” And when you put together your social strategy, you must pay attention to “Marketing Demographics and the Ramifications of Social Media.” Consider psycho-demographics as well as standard demographics. Psycho-demographics identify various segments of the target audience’s state of mind. When you identify the various states of mind, you can then deliver contextually relevant content.

Now that you have the fundamentals and a game plan, you cannot stop there. Far too many companies make errors with regards to organizational issues for social marketing. Here are some very important issues …

CEO understanding and support
Social Media in Your Company – Guidance for Where It Fits In
When Looking for Your Company’s Social Media Marketing Leader, Consider ….
Why the “Social Media Person” Needs to Be More than Just the Social Media Person
3 Helpful Tips when Hiring for Social Media

Social media gives the target audience a strong voice. Brands can no longer put out statements and advertisements and expect the audience to simply accept what they are saying. Brands need to listen to their audience, engage and build relationships. Brands have an opportunity to build an emotional bond with their audience. Emotional branding will yield loyalty, word of mouth marketing and overall, long-term brand preference and sustainability. Social marketing is a must in today’s consumer driven world.

You now have the definition of how to drive social marketing success. Let me know what else you need or do not understand.

Make It Happen,
SocialSteve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, CEO, company organization, content marketing, employment, leadership, marketing plan, measuring social media, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, social media organization, social media performance, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

The Greatest Hits on The SocialSteve Blog – 2013

Thanks for being a reader of The SocialSteve Blog (named one of the Top 50 Global Influential Marketing Blogs). Here are the articles that were the greatest hits on The SocialSteve Blog in 2013 …

SocialSteve Greatest Hits

#10) Why PR Agencies Should be Great at Social Marketing, But So Few Are

#9) A Facebook Page Every Marketer Should Learn From

#8) How Often Should You Post?

#7) 2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

#6) Activation Marketing via Social Media

#5) Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

#4) Know Your “Ps” When It Comes to Content and Social Marketing

#3) The Successful Social Marketing Framework

#2) What is Social Marketing? (Make Sure You Really Know)

#1) Why Are We Doing Social Marketing Anyway?

Strive for social marketing excellence.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, digital media, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, PR, sales, sales conversion, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, website, Word of Mouth Marketing

Not All Numbers Matter in Social Marketing

All marketing efforts need to be justified with empirical results. And at the same time, way too many social marketers look at the wrong numbers or wrong combination of numbers. Let’s get it right on the table … Social marketing success is not defined by how many likes (friends) a brand has on Facebook or the number of followers on Twitter. Far too many executives are hell-bent on measuring success by likes and followers.

Worng numbers

Likes and followers are very important, but looking at them in isolation is meaningless and dangerous. First, lets consider the objectives of social marketing:

1) To get in front of your target audience and establish interest, value, trust, interactivity, and a growing relationship.
2) Generate brand preference.
3) Provoke referrals and word of mouth marketing.

So getting likes and followers is only the start to meeting the objectives listed above. Lets discuss Facebook likes first. I can get any brand one million followers, no problem. We’ll just give an iPad away to anyone that likes the brand. Sounds a bit silly, but there are a number of brands that do some sort of a sweepstakes or ad campaign to get people to like their brand and think the social marketing is over. Getting likes is an important start, but not everyone that likes your brand will see your posts. And if they do not see your posts, what is the purpose of having that like? Facebook uses a complex algorithm to determine what posts are seen. To simplify the complexity, lets just say that if a person is engaged and interactive with a brand on Facebook, it is most likely that brand’s post will appear on the person’s newsfeed. Thus, the most important combination of metrics to look at on Facebook is likes and “talking about this” (found just to the right of likes on a brand Facebook page).

SB FC page

I often tells brands I work with that they should track the percentage of talk about this relative to their likes to get a good Facebook metric. Remember, once you acquire many likes, you need to keep them engaged by posting compelling content that inspires people to like the individual posts, comment, and engage. If you score numerous brand likes, then work to increase the percentage of talking about this relative to your likes.

Now lets talk about Twitter a bit. How many Tweeters do you follow? I follow over four thousand. It is not possible for me to actually capture and see the tweets of that many and I am sure the scenario is close to the same for you. So getting followed is step one for a brand. The second step of success is to motivate your followers to put you on one of their twitter lists. Typically users maintain twitter lists as a short cut to capture valued information on a segmented topic. The best strategic way to get on a list is, once again, to continually provide posts of interest – entertaining, informative.

(Notes on twitter lists – it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what list your twitter account is on. The only way I have found is to go to ‘http://twitter.com/twitter-handle/lists/membership’, but this will only give you a page worth of the list you are on. If you are on more lists than can be covered on one page worth, Twitter does not allow you to scroll and see the additional ones. A complete list was available using TweetDeck, but now that that app has been eliminated, I have found no replacement. I welcome input from others that have seen a solution.)

There are some that have emphasized looking at qualitative social results instead of quantitative results. Both are important. For example, I might be content with only having one thousand Twitter followers if those followers were every CEO and CMO at fortune five hundred companies. As a brand, you want quality likes and followers … those that will engage with you and advocate for your brand. But a good part of the onus is on your social marketing to create quality likes and followers.

In the end, let’s make sure we agree on one thing … You must generate measurable results with your social marketing efforts. But make sure you are measuring results against objectives – not just simple like and followers. There are a number of important parameters you can track to align to overall business objectives. If you want more information on this, see “Know What Social Media Success Looks Like.”

Make it Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brands, Facebook, measuring social media, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter

Driving Social Media Adoption at Your Company

Last week I hosted a webinar on getting your company on board with social media marketing and gaining greater acceptance throughout your organization. The motivation for social media is that “marketing must change because the market is changing.” Just look at the target audience behavior to see their adoption and use of social networks to help determine how important social marketing is.

Social Media Adoption at Your Company

So in this post I’ll share with you the highlights of the webinar. Consider the following key elements to getting your organization to strongly embrace social marketing such that it is not just the marketing department’s efforts. In the words of Dave Packard (of HP), “Marketing is far too important to be left solely to the marketing department.” Marketing your brand and company is everyone’s job.

1) Have a clear understanding of your target audience’s wants, needs, and motivations. Capture their digital behavior, practices and social channels of use. Brief your executives.
2) Develop a social strategy that aligns to the company’s business goals and objectives. Make sure you know the company’s KPIs (key performance indicators).
3) Determine the company’s subject matter experts in all organizational disciplines. Work with them to produce content that reinforces your brand as the most knowledgeable in the vertical you serve. Talk to the internal subject matter experts and capture their perspective. Make a draft article conveying their approach and ask them to redline (and then own) the content.
4) Create positive viruses … Find the people in your company that are willing to try some new social endeavors. Work hard to make them successful. Once they deliver success, shine a big light on their success. People copy success and everyone loves to emulate winners.
5) Extend “marketing communications” beyond the marketing department. Develop a corporate policy that states and motivates employees to share company content on their own social channels. Get executives to acknowledge and thank individuals for promoting company content. Develop brand ambassadors within your company.
6) Be a leader. It does not matter where you sit on the organization chart. If you want to drive positive change, you must make it happen. Don’t wait for someone with an executive title to take charge.
7) Show social metrics even if you are not asked for them. We must show the entire company empirical results that justify social practices. (See “Know What Successful Social Media looks Like” for metrics.)

If you want to listen to a rebroadcast of the webinar please go to the recording … the presentation is available in slideshare there as well.

Organizational change is hard, but in the case of social marketing, it is not hype that should be the reason for change, but rather audience behavior. We see different social platforms emerging weekly, but social media as a whole is the most effective way for brands to build strong relations and product/service preference. Do you have what it takes to drive winning organizational change?

Make it Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, CEO, change management, company organization, leadership, marketing, marketing plan, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

2013 – The Year Social Media Will Be Measured Correctly

Social MetricsIn 2012, just about every marketer got on board recognizing the need for social marketing. More and more brands included social implementations to their marketing programs. And now, there is no shortage of “experts” making their predictions of social trends for 2013. (Okay, I added some context here as well. :) )

But this post is not a prediction. Social media metrics is a MUST for 2013. And I am putting my skin in the game. In the words of the great Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Before I share my efforts defining meaningful social metrics, let’s first review “What Successful Social Media Looks Like.” As I mentioned in that article, social marketing is not a strong channel to promote sales. But social is very strong at increasing Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy. All of these attributes “tee up” sales. Thus we should measure social as a function of awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy … at least as a start.

At Ryan Partnership, a full service marketing agency where I head up the social practice, I have defined the Social BrandAction Index. The Social BrandAction Index is a proprietary algorithm that weights different input parameters in each category of awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Social BrandAction Index

When I calculate the Social BrandAction Index for clients I come up with a number, say 237. The first question is “what does 237 represent? Is that good?” The number starts with a baseline and is meaningless at first look. The index needs to be looked at as a trend. You need at least four months of data to see how this number is trending. Trending is what is important. It tells how social programs are increasing (or decreasing) awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy.

Certainly, the Social BrandAction Index provides meaningful information. But it must evolve, as social continues to evolve. For example, pins from Pinterest need to be added. At this time, Pinterest does not provide analytics that can be captured other than counting manually. Another case in point is sentiment analysis … it needs to improve significantly and it is part of the social metrics.

So yes. We have a start of meaningful metrics. But I will be the first to admit that they need to mature. So in 2013, I will continue to work on social media metrics modeling that provides the most accurate and telling conclusions of brand social marketing implementations. As I quoted Drucker in the beginning, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” If you have some thoughts with regards to how we take social metrics forward, let me know. Maybe we can collaborate to improve what I have defined thus far.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under BrandAction, measuring social media, Social BrandAction, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social media performance, social media ROI