Category Archives: social media ROI

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

The Facebook Issue No One Wants To Discuss

So, you are tired of reading about Facebook this past week. From the controversy with GM pulling its $10M Facebook ad program early in the week to the Facebook IPO on Friday. And then the surprise wedding of Zuckerberg to his long time girlfriend on Saturday. And in all this coverage, no one put the real Facebook issue on the table.

Everyone is asking if Facebook ads provide a winning ROI and frankly that is the wrong question. Facebook should not be your social media program. It should be part of your social media program, but social media is bigger. And for that matter, social media is only a part of marketing (and other important business functions as well like customer support). To look at every single slice of a marketing program and see if there is an ROI does not make sense, at all. I’ll explain shortly.

Before I explain the ROI issue, let me first rewind the tape from this past week. I was asked to provide comments and answer some questions for a number of publications. As is always the case, my comments were taken out of context. I was asked about GM publicizing that they were pulling their Facebook ads and my thoughts on that. Here was my complete response …

“WSJ reports that General Motors plans to stop advertising on Facebook as GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick said the auto maker ‘is definitely reassessing our advertising on Facebook, although the content is effective and important.’

The news could not come at a worse time for Facebook, but states some strong commentary on both Facebook and GM.

First GM … this is the same company that went before Congress looking for hand-outs to save their fledging company. Was Ford in front of Congress? No. Is it a coincidence that Ford has an extremely productive social media program that is fully integrated into other marketing programs? No. What Ford does, that is absent from GMs social media effort, is that they have a strategy, plan, execution, and metrics that integrate ALL owned, earned, and PAID media endeavors. They do not have an isolated Facebook paid media program. Furthermore, I question if Ewanick understands that, on average, only 16% of brand postings on Facebook reach their ‘like’s’ newsfeed as revealed at the fMC on 2/29/11. He should look at Facebook’s reach generator (paid offering from Facebook) with regards to “content (being) effective and important.” The fact is that GM does not know how to integrate social media into a winning business strategy. The issue is not Facebook ads.

As for Facebook … this news is very detrimental for Facebook right before their IPO. It paints a picture that a struggling company cannot rely on Facebook to help turn them around, but the same could be said about any pure-play marketing advertisement program. The reality is that Facebook advertisement, by itself, is not a great use of precious marketing dollars. Facebook has done a poor job positioning and describing how their platform drives quantifiable business results. Facebook is not the equivalent of having a social media strategy and it is time for Facebook to communicate how they are PART of a winning solution and stop making ill-advised marketers believe they are THE social media solution.”

I was also asked what I thought Facebook going public would mean to the company and marketers using Facebook as one of their marketing channels. I provided some bullet comments as I will have an article in eContentMag.com (http://www.econtentmag.com/default.aspx) this coming week covering this topic. Here are the snippets I provided:

* As Forrester’s Josh Bernoff SVP, Idea Development tweeted this past week, “Buying Facebook shares? The original investors took their risks & will now get their rewards. Now the risk is passed on to you.” But investors are not the only ones taking on risk; marketers now have added risk with Facebook if they put all their social eggs solely in the Facebook basket.
* The fact that Facebook is now a public company means Zuckerberg and team need to answer to quarterly results.
* While Mark may continue to talk about the importance of sharing what’s going on with your connections, there will be deeper focus on revenue generation. The real question is whether Facebook can carry off both sides successfully.
* As Facebook feels increased revenue pressure, I see a potential user conflict.
* As Facebook introduces more ad and revenue tactics (such as the recently announced reach generator) it will be interesting to see how users react. It will be a delicate balance for Facebook to keep usage high while introducing greater revenue generation.
* Keeping Wall Street, brand advertisers, and users all happy and content at the same time will be one massive effort.

Here are the various places that published edited versions of my perspective and POV (point of view):

* USA Today – GM to stop buying ads on Facebook
* Media Post – Facebook Ads Need Traditional Measurement Tools To Determine ROI
* Media Bistro – GM’s Decision Not to Advertise On Facebook Not Such a Big Deal After All
* Business Insider – What Everyone On Madison Avenue Is Saying About Facebook
* New York Post – Social downshift: GM slashes $10M in Facebook ads

The real issues facing marketers is not Facebook ROI. Let’s start by looking at consumer buying behavior. Today, there are many components and influences that in totality lead to a purchase. For a moment, let’s just concentrate on digital use. We need to understand the plight of the consumer. They may hear about a product from a friend on a social community or in an email. They may look for the product or product category on Google or other search platforms. Seeing an ad on Facebook or other websites may work to remind them of their consideration. They may look for reviews online. A promotional ad may trigger an action. All of these things contribute to the purchase path and are important elements. Are we simply going to give “the last click” the credit for the conversion? Can we measure other contributing factors?

You see this gets complicated in the digital world we live in. I did not even mention offline marketing activities. They contribute to the purchase decision as well and make this ROI discussion even more difficult.

Thus, it is not an issue whether Facebook ads have an ROI for marketers, but rather there is a need for marketers to use digital display ads (Facebook and others) INTEGRATED in digital strategy. A digital strategy that includes owned, earned, and paid media. If you look at consumer digital behavior, they do not just go one place and make a purchase decision. They are using different tools (search, ads, social, reviews, etc) to make purchase decisions.

“Marketing ROI” is what should be measured. We should not try to place an ROI on each element of marketing. Yes, we should measure variables that show success or lack there of, but ROI is not a realistic measurement of Facebook ads. There are KPIs (key performance indicators) that should be measured such as click-throughs and impressions. Once again, these are attributes that “build up” to a sales conversion, but they should not be specific to the ROI equation.

It is time for marketers to have a much greater degree of knowledge and understanding of customer behavior and how they are using digital in their purchase decisions. Marketers must develop a marketing strategy and plan that INTEGRATES the digital channels their target market uses. Marketers must determine how they will measure each of the piece of their strategy, but ROI should be left as a metric for evaluation of the entire marketing program.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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

Lessons Learned in Social Media

There is no shortage of trending lists, reviews, and top 10 lists looking back at 2011. I know many are cynical and think they have seen enough of them, but frankly I like them. They give me an opportunity to learn some things I missed. The problem is that anyone can produce these lists and get them out in the public … the “power” of social media. Yes, there is some good stuff out there, and there is some garbage.

When I look back on 2011 and think about the social media takeaways from my perspective, it is simple … just look at what I have written about. OK – I spared you the pain of going through all of them and did it myself. Funny enough, I pulled the best of the best together and grouped them together and what happened? You get the summary of important social media themes and learnings for 2011. Here is what you may have missed:

Understanding Social Media

The Simple Explanation of Social Media provides an easy to understand explanation of what social media is, what success might look like, and important considerations.

Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media explains how the three different types of media should be planned to produce synergy and great results. (This was my most popular and top rated article)

Content

Content is the core of social media. Content must be awesome … would you ever share something that was just okay?

4 Ingredients to a Winning Content Strategy calls it like it is.

There actually is something more important than content. Find out what it is in Content is Super Important !!! (But Not King).

Social Media in Your Company

Social Media at Your Company – Policies prepares you and your company to leverage the power of your employees while putting some best practice rules and regulations in place.

It is easy to be impressed by someone that appears to know much about social media, but are they going to produce results for you? Before you get underwhelming results see 3 Helpful Tips when Hiring for Social Media.

Why Most CEOs and Top Execs Don’t Get Social Media explains some key issues from the C-Level Suite perspective.

Planning and Understanding Your Audience

Why is “empathy” The Most Important Word for Marketing. You better understand your audience through and through. How else are you going to appeal to them?

7 Things You Need to do to Turn Social Media Successful Results provides some common sense that is often forgotten when social media planning takes place.

Marketing Demographics and the Ramifications of Social Media:
Introduction to Psycho-Demographics
explains marketing beyond traditional demographics.

Ever wonder Where is the WOW in Social Media? Take a look at what might be missing in your social media approach.

ROI and Measurement

Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term is probably the biggest mistake people make when it comes to social media. Get a reality dose here.

The Social Media ROI Conundrum is a solid examination at the challenge of forming a defined social media ROI and what to do about it.

Social Media Models

Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel takes a look at the traditional marketing model and how social media is applied complete with metrics.

Digital PR and Outreach for Important Social Media Conversations goes beyond your Facebook and Twitter implementation and explains an equal, if not more important aspect of social media strategy and implementation.

Unifying Loyalty, Rewards, and Social Media is an explanation of yet another integration point for your existing marketing and social media activities.

Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as We Know It brings it all together and provides the balanced formula and approach for the winning social media program.

Wrap-Up
So we actually covered a ton this year and made some great advancements in social media. Social media is no longer that thing people are thinking about doing. It is part of just about every company’s, every brand’s plans. 2012 will show greater success and more defined best practices. And I plan to be there with you every stride of the way. I am looking forward to providing greater help and guidance and connecting with more of you. Thanks for being an extremely important part of my little social world. Let’s make an effort to engage more in 2012 and help each other out.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, CEO, content marketing, employment, loyalty, marketing, marketing plan, measuring social media, owned-earned-paid media, PR, rewards, Social BrandAction, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, social media performance, social media policy, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

The Social Media ROI Conundrum

As the year closes out, everyone (including me) will be looking back on the year and looking ahead to 2012 and stating their trends and predictions of social media. There is absolutely no doubt that the most common topic will be social media ROI.

So let’s get the reality on the table. Social media does provide a great value to organizations that take a well thought strategic approach and integrate it with other business and marketing programs. Measuring social media return on investment is very difficult to perform because of the inability to hardcode or hardwire social activities to a purchase. But there is no doubt socialization of a brand leads to increased sales. You want some data to back this up?

Bain and Company declared that “Customers who engage with companies over social media are more loyal and they spend up to 40 percent more with those companies than other customers” in their study “Putting Social Media to Work.” Just yesterday I listened to an interview with Wendy Clark, senior vice president of integrated marketing communications and capabilities at Coca-Cola Inc. where she stated that an independent group verified that Coca-Cola fans on Facebook (36 million +) were twice as likely to consume coke and 10 times more likely to purchase. Are these not results you want to see for your company?

When used correctly, social media is powerful because it sparks earned media and/or user movements. The earned media and user actions are stronger than other brand marketing activities because it is a voice coming from a “trusted agent.” Well planned social media endeavors are apt to cause word-of-mouth. It is the equivalent of asking a friend a good place to grab some dinner. Is that not a lead that yields a sale? But how do you track that scenario … pretty difficult.

Getting people interested, engaged, and loyal to brands are some of the great outcomes of social media. Word of mouth, another byproduct of social media, is the most powerful lead generation source. All of these things lead to sales. To use a hockey analogy, if sales is the goal, social media is the assist. The NHL does score players 1 point for goals and 1 point for assists when calculating individual scoring statistics. And yes, awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy are all assists of sales and can all be measured.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, here are some examples of how you can measure each of the assists to sales within a social media paradigm:

Awareness – look at digital assets you do not own (blogs, portals, other tweeter accounts, etc.) and count the number of mentions of your brand and URL mentions of your site. Use a social media monitoring tool.

Consideration – look onsite and measure the number of visits and pageviews to your site. Use Google Analytics.

Loyalty – derive an equation that includes number or fans, followers, comments, interacts, subscriptions, and return visits to your site. Use Facebook, Twitter, and community analytics as well as Google Analytics to measure return visitors.

Advocacy – look on and off of your digital assets and measure referrals, mentions, positive sentiment, retweets, and reblogs. Use social media monitoring tools, and site analytics tools.

The approach I take with clients is to first baseline measurements for the four categories. Then continue to look at the measurements either week-to-week or month-to-month. Do not worry about an individual period of slippage. You are likely to see a zigzag line over time, but normalize that line. Positive results are somewhere around a 10% increase month-over-month on the normalized curve. Put all line metrics on the same chart. Do you see relationships between the lines? Are you converting those that are aware to consideration? Those considering to loyalty? Those loyal to advocate? There is likely some degree of drop off from stage to stage, but is the percentage of drop off getting better over time? Also add in a sales measurement and see if you can determine a correlation between your social media measurements and sales. I often suggest that there is a “gestation” period between social media awareness and consideration to sales. There is a definite lag of these parameters. Do this type of measurement over a rolling 12 month period. Learn to modify your social programs based on measured results. If you implement this correctly and have a strategic approach to social media, execute with the right tactics, and modify your social program based on measured results, you will have a winning social media program that can be quantitatively justified.

Back to ROI … the technical definition of ROI is (sales – investment) / (investment). It is that sales component in the equation that makes it difficult to measure social media ROI. This is for two reasons: 1) social is not a channel for direct sales. While some use it successfully for sales, overall it is not the best use of social. 2) It is extremely difficult to tag a sale with a social media tracker.

As we roll into 2012 and social media is finally well accepted as a very strong brand marketing initiative, you must show measured value for your efforts. I am certain that somewhere along the line someone is going to (rightfully so) ask you for social media ROI. You now have the background to answer this question. It is now up to you to put a measurement tracking and reporting procedure into your social media program. Ready to deliver measurable results?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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

Why Social Media is an Excellent Alternative to TV Advertisements

TV and social media, both increase awareness for brands. But do TV ads ever make you a brand loyalist or provoke you to share something about the brand with your friends, family, or colleague? I believe that social media is a far better play and return on your investment than TV advertisement. Think I’ve stirred up some controversy? Read on and join the debate. I want to hear from you.

TV ads start with the production of the commercial. Then you have to buy the sponsor slot. Take the cost and efforts that are poured into commercial production and create your own killer media for use in social channels. And for your companies that do not have the budget for TV ads, I’ll tell you what … you don’t need the pristine production required by TV for use in social media. But let’s first look at the marketing dynamics of television advertisement. (I don’t claim to be a TV ad expert, but I’ll layout some basics.)

TV advertising – for a long time has been marketers’ number one tool for reaching an audience. In the early days of television, shows were sponsored by companies and viewers saw commercial after commercial featuring the same product. Then things evolved a bit and Nielsen boxes allowed advertisers to target specific demographics. Different companies and brands began to purchase time slots for programs and in essence, share sponsorship. Cost of these time slots varies based upon the ratings of the program. Nielsen extrapolates a small audience sample size to estimate overall viewership numbers and advertising reach. The GRP or Gross Rating Points has been used to measure TV (and print and radio) advertising. GRPs are the product of % reach against a target audience multiplied by average frequency against that target (i.e. 15% reach x 4 frequency = 60 GRPs).

Television serves to increase brand awareness and brand reputation and in some instances drive a direct sale (i.e. Veteran’s Day $2,000 cash back incentive ends Monday). Social not only aims to increase awareness and brand reputation, but takes this one step further by its inherent interactive nature. When successfully implemented, it builds strong relationships between consumer and brand.

Television advertisement is designed around demographics and target markets. That is why you will see beer commercials on televised sport events as opposed to seeing their commercials on say, “Desperate Housewives.” Know where your target audience is and appeal to them there. When it comes to social media implementations, this is where so many miss it. They think they are done by simply putting up a Facebook and Twitter page and posting there. No, no, no. A complete social strategy must consider where the target market exists and congregates just as brands target their audience on specific televisions programming. In social media we call this Digital PR and Outreach as I recently covered in another article. You go to where the crowd is from the start, connect with them there, and then invite them to you social assets. There are two important points here: 1) You cannot just expect your prospect to come to you – you must go where they are and 2) engage with them there – it is about building a relationship.

Now it is true that the social media audience you sought to gain attraction and affinity for is probably smaller than that of the television audience. But let’s peel into a couple of layers here. First off, you can be much more targeted in your social approach and target exact prospects. For example, say your product is automotive. You can access forums, blogs, and portals that are specific to car content, discussions, and reviews. You can use social listening tools and determine where specific auto conversations are happening. You can identify influential people and sites. You can also expect your social activities to go beyond your captive audience. If you plan how your brand gets your owned media shared and also how you can win earned media, word of mouth marketing increases the number of prospects you reach. The mere nature of social media is social (how profound :)). Thus, you may actually reach a greater number of true vetted prospects than that which TV provides.

I realize many will view my stance on social media as being subjective. But come on now. Can you really rationalize TV advertisement over social media? In a nut shell, here is my take on why social media is a superior investment.

1) Cost – TV advertisement is substantially higher. In fact, it is prohibitively high for many businesses. Social media is something all can work into their budgets.
2) Reached Audience – Social media, when implemented correctly, allows brands to reach a higher percentage of the primary target market. Yes TV attracts a larger audience, but a high percentage of that audience is not all part of the desired primary audience.
3) Engagement – Relationship building hinges on conversations. TV is a broadcast vehicle allowing for only one way conversations. It is much easier to develop loyalty and advocacy via social media.

Early in this year 2011, economists predicted that TV advertising revenue in the U.S. would increase 6% this year as reported in the Los Angeles Times . But the summer was actually a cool off period for the TV ad market, and the growth pace actually tapered off to less than 2% for the year. TV ad revenue is expected to end the year at nearly $68 billion. While this is still a record, it does signal a slowdown and a reminder of TV advertising’s vulnerability. Furthermore, as DVR viewing increases, television ads will be seen less and thus the effectiveness of TV ads will diminish.

It is time to evaluate marketing spend on a number of activities and today I am questioning TV ad budgets. Has investments in TV advertisement ever been scrutinized to the extent that social media RIO has been? We have accepted TV ad effective measurement in terms of “share of voice” and GRP. I have drawn attention to the importance of social media measurement in numerous articles. (Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel and Social Media ROI – Don’t Be So Short Sighted – Think Longer Term just to name two.) Measurement is important and cannot be avoided. So yes … I think social media effectiveness can go toe-to-toe with TV advertisement effectiveness. I have outlined my rationalization. Now it is your turn to join the conversation and add your take.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, TV ads

Social Media Model that Defines the End of the World as We Know It

If I offered you $0.01 to work for a week, but promised to double your pay each week, would you take the job? If you work the math through you will find that by week 28, you would be making over $1 million a week. Started off slow, but the pay-off and long term result is big. You know, social media works the same way, but too many people are looking for the quick sale and looking for an immediate ROI. The wise marketing executives are in it for the long haul and are investing in social media to produce sustainable growth over time. If we look at the economy in the past four years, isn’t long term sustainable growth OK? Heck it is better than OK. Relatively speaking it is great.

And for the reasons above (as well as some great conversations with social media thought leaders), I am abandoning the social media marketing funnel that I have been trumpeting for a good while. It came down to one fundamental reason. The issue of sales. Here is the question – how does social media relate to sales? This is what so many are after when they bring up the question of social media ROI. Well here is the answer … social media increases the probability of sales. It is part of a marketing mix.

It is possible to define social media as a function of sales with extensive evaluation and regression analysis looking at all the marketing mix components and capturing cross media measurement. There are companies like MarketShare, ThinkVine, and SymphonyIRI Group that can do this for you. But in many cases, that is cost prohibitive. For many, they can intuitively accept that social media increases the success of SEO, SEM, paid media ads, as well as the non-digital traditional marketing endeavors. Social media contributions to sales is not immediate and is long term. Therefore it is difficult to measure. So why not simply look at the things that are easier to measure that lead to sales as well as looking at post sales metrics that contribute to customer life cycle value as well as word of mouth marketing.

If we concentrate on the things that lead up to a sale and the things after sale that are easily tracked, is this not an acceptable way to measure success? Is there not a value in looking at ROE (return on engagement) and recognizing that there is a definite value in engaging with your target audience; making them feel like your brand is a part of their life; building a relationships and trust? Does anyone debate that measured success here will lead to an increase in sales. So let’s measure and report on things that can be done quickly, won’t cost a ton to do so, AND ARE RELEVANT.

Take sales out of the equation. I am not saying that there is no sales attribute of/to social media. I am saying it is difficult to measure, if not cost prohibitive. If we take that stance, you should ask how then does social media relate to sales? Answer – it increases the probability of sales. It does this by generating awareness and influencing buying decisions (consideration) before a sale. Social media also increases loyalty and breeds advocates after a sale. So what we are left with is the social media marketing funnel I have previously defined without a sales stage. And if there is no sales stage in the measurement model, we certainly cannot use the funnel. What we are left with is “measuring social media success” as shown in the circular diagram below:

Yes, there can be other things that are measured, but this gives you some concrete examples of how we measure social media success. These four attributes increase the probability of sales and allow us to start measuring social media success.

A couple weeks ago, I recommended “How Social Media Helps Brand Building and Driving Profitable Business.” I suggested it was the intersection of “how customers engage with brands” (called Social Business) and “the way companies conduct profitable business” (called Relationship Enterprise). Relationship Enterprise is the diagram above and for review, Social Business is the way organizations should execute social media and looks like this:

This is also called the “A-Path.”

Now if we bring these two together, we have now defined “Social BrandAction” …

So, yes – it is the end of the social media marketing funnel. This new model represents the true business world of how customers engage with brands, and how brands build value. It also includes a scheme to measure profitable transactions that is easy to execute, not cost prohibitive, and unveils a true degree of success. It is based on return-of-engagement (ROE). ROE has long term ramifications. There are no short term scenarios to make a quick buck. Invest in long term sustainable profitable endeavors. Invest in social media and have realistic expectations and a method to measure your success.

I’ll leave you with a tribute to a great band that called it quits after five decades of awesome music. In the words of R.E.M. – “It is the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” Do you feel fine?

Make It Happen!
Social Ste

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Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, BrandAction, brands, change management, Social BrandAction, social media, social media marketing, social media performance, social media ROI, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve