Defining Social Media Success

This past week, Brian Morrissey of AdWeek reported that
YouTube names top 10 brand videos of 2010.”. No shocker, the Old Spice video was top ranked. I personally liked Toyota’s Swagger Wagon video which came in 6th place. These videos are great. They create a much more compelling user experience than straight up TV ads. In fact, this use of social media is the “new generation” TV ad that plays in a different channel where users are more apt to view, interact, and ultimately build relationships with the brand.

But this got me thinking and prompted me to write my perspective on “Defining Social Media Success.” Not every organization or person can allocate the resources or budget to produce the videos that gained YouTube top accolades and numbers. So I’ll share with you the social media plight for one of the brands I work with.

You’ve heard many people state that “quality” is more important than “quantity” in social media. That is to say that you want a very engaged audience as your priority as opposed to focusing on driving fan and follower numbers. I totally agree with this perspective and I would also add that if you specifically concentrate on quality fans/followers, the residual affect is that you will actually increase the number as well.

This is the exact case with the brand I referenced. We did not allocate a hefty budget to do high production videos or massive marketing campaigns, but instead we concentrated on our users’ experience with our brand in specific social media channels and made sure we delivered a winning experience and value there. The obvious primary social channels these days are Facebook and Twitter. (They clearly are not the only ones. We do have plays in other social areas as well.)

When I started HFM-US most of the brands already had Facebook fan pages and twitter accounts as is the case with most brands and organization. But that does not mean that they were using the platforms in ways to draw in users and create word-of-mouth references. We defined how these channels were to be used and what the objective was for each. Do this! This is the start of definition for your KPIs (key performance indicators). We noticed that our post and comments were not necessarily on brand – in content, brand voice, stylization, and aesthetics. We modified what we posted, cadence of post, and format of post. We looked at how URLs were listed and images were inserted. We made some tweaks and measured (continuous process) results. The net results of these efforts are as follows:

– 211% increase of Facebook fans (likes)
– 553% increase of visits to our site from Facebook
– 1721% increase of page views on our site from Facebook
– 1084% increase of Facebook interactions
– 2411% increase of Twitter followers
– 421% increase of visits to our site from Twitter
– 952% increase of page views on our site from twitter

Pretty encouraging results! And there are some key takeaways:

1. There was not a plan for an expensive social media blitz and simply concentrated on the basics. Having a traditional marketing mentality (position, voice, communication, audience focus) and bringing it to new media, social media is imperative.
2. You must have a social media plan that is sustainable – continuous in execution; continuous in growth of audience. If you do have a quick hit growth spike, you must retain the new users’ interest. How are you going to continue to keep your audience engaged? Yes a sweepstake might help to get new gains and followers, but you need to continue to deliver value and/or entertainment to your audience. And when you do have their interested, engage with them.
3. When you are really focused on your target audience and you deliver what they want, not only do you increase your following, but you increase the consumption of your content. Yes, we increased fans and followers, but what I find most successful is the increase of page views. Page view percentage increase is much greater than the increase of friends and followers and unique visits. What this really means is that not only was there an increase in connections, but an increase in the right connections. Quality connections increased – those that measured greater consumption of brand in the past.

So when push comes to shove, do the right “marketing” things when you go about your social media endeavors. Continuously do small things right. Measure and assess. Don’t think of hitting a grand slam success like the Old Spice campaign. Do things that are sustainable. Sustainable for you to implement and sustainable with regards to keeping your target market interested and engaged.

I should add one more point since it is the topic of so much discussion and debate. It deals with social media ROI. As I mentioned in the article “Measuring the Value of Social Media,” over a year and a half ago, social media does not generate sales. Social media generates awareness and increases leads.

So the debate on social media ROI will be endless – as long as people continue to include an unrealistic expectation of measuring sales increase from social media. (If you want more on this, check out the article “Reality Check: Social Media Integration and Measurement.”) Are we still going to debate the value of having more relationships with our target segment and having those relationships deeper in nature and loyalty? This is a rhetorical question. Social media does not produce sales. It increases and strengthens relationships. Measure social media appropriate. Not sales and ROI. Attributes of relationships and KPIs.

Make it Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, Facebook, social media, social media marketing, social media organization, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Defining Social Media Success

  1. Hi Steve

    I like the simplicity, going to hire you as my copywriter.

    I always look for one ‘like’ or one’follower’ at a time and then the relationships are sustainable and natural, pretty much as you suggest.

    Also like the last paragraph, just time to get on with things monitoring what is effective and being flexible for changing these things.

    Here’s something that rings true for me

    ‘Don’t judge a book just by the cover
    Unless you cover just another
    And blind acceptance is a sign
    Of stupid fools who stand in line’

    A simple lyric from the song EMI by the Sex Pistols 1976.

    Have a good week

    • Thanks Mark,

      Appreciate the comments.

      Also, I do not think people realize how sharp the Sex Pistols were due to their self -destructive behavior, but you just added an example why.


      • Correct Steve and although John Lydon has turned into a pantomime dame, he still has a really insightful and intelligent mind. More to the point he did then in his late teens and early 20’s, with a far more mature outlook on reality than many people today. As influencers they inspired a global cultural shift in thought, and yet not totally original they grabbed their time. And they still inspire today and will do for a long time.

  2. Only people named Mark comment here. I like that.

    First, thanks for sharing the success story. Great stuff. You have a way of distilling concepts to their essence. Keep up the good work Steve!

  3. Interesting views. I would like to increase sales using social media, but that seems to be adverse to your theory.

  4. milaspage

    “But that does not mean that they were using the platforms in ways to draw in users and create word-of-mouth references.”
    I think this is the biggest challenge for businesses, and will be. I was glad you addressed it.

    Is there room for a Mila to comment? lol 😉
    I see a Mike…maybe the blogosphere is driving the “M”s here.

    Thank you for the Gravatar lead…hope you can see it now. Very much appreciated.

    Speaking as someone who is faced with the challenge of creating an engaging blog and social media strategy for my own department (and indirectly company) the most important thing is for people to familiarize themselves with what is going on. In most cases smaller organizations may not necessarily have the resources to devote the time or they may not have the skill set to write, you really have to step back and think about all these factors, and your post is an excellent commentary and guide.

    “Don’t think of hitting a grand slam success like the Old Spice campaign. Do things that are sustainable. Sustainable for you to implement and sustainable with regards to keeping your target market interested and engaged.”

    Your article above brings up a lot of issues and points, things that frankly I can not even begin to address in a short comment here, requiring reflection – overall, that tells me this post of yours has been awesome.

    When I am done “thinking” I may be back to this comment. lol.
    Thank you. –

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