There are myriad social media, social networking, social computing and social business sites on the web, all of them encouraging conversations with millions of people who use various mechanisms to connect, communicate and collaborate through a variety of channels. Traditional marketing campaigns now have to have a digital component to ensure that they are reaching the correct segment of the audience, and there are lots of case studies about success and positive ROI from web campaigns.
But can social marketing be measured at all? How do you measure your ROI? It’s very simple to measure ROI through traditional channels such as printed media, radio or TV advertising. There are methods of measuring ROI from search marketing also’via click-throughs from a web page. Social marketing often isn’t measured directly, although there are several tools that you can use to measure how many customers have clicked on your links. Interesting and useful content is transmitted virally, through recommendations, word of mouth, email and link forwarding.
If you try to sell directly to the customer using social marketing, you might be disappointed.
Tweeting about the same links over and over again or pushing the same message on your Facebook page will drive customers away. You need to think of your online strategy in a different way. Different rules apply to social marketing than in other, more traditional forms of marketing.
But ROI is a very difficult thing to measure through something as intangible as a social media campaign, a blogging strategy or web competition. Case studies are examples of success in the corporate world, and they are also a key indicator of sentiment and success in the social media space.
Old Spice had an innovative way to persuade women to buy Old Spice in the US. They launched an online video campaign called ‘the man your man can smell like‘. The campaign was launched during Superbowl week and targeted TV programmes where viewers would likely watch together. In the first three months of 2010, mentions of the Old Spice brand captured 75% of all conversations, with half of the conversations initiated by women. Other videos started to appear parodying the Old Spice advert and style of conversation, and TV presenters like Oprah mentioned the brand on her show.
The agency then hit upon a great way to capture the real-time messages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The Old Spice response campaign became the fastest growing campaign ever, reaching 5.9 million views on YouTube on day 1.
On day 2, Old Spice was mentioned in 8 out of the top 11 most popular videos on the web. On day 3 of the campaign there were more than 20 million views, and on day 7 over 40 million. This had a huge knock-on effect on the Old Spice Twitter and Facebook pages. The Old Spice website had a 300% increase in site visits and became the most popular channel on YouTube. Financially this campaign has made a difference too, with sales of Old Spice body wash up by 27% in 6 months since campaign launch. A great return on investment from a TV and YouTube video campaign.
Businesses need to take advantage of the engagement with the consumer, capturing stories and success measures from their online population, and they need to engage with their key customers and encourage their online influencers to become champions for the brand. Some companies toy with the idea of social media, and consider using it to further their market in order to gain a deeper understanding of their audience and improve perceptions, interaction and feedback. However, there are lots of differing opinions on what constitutes an effective social media strategy, without any clear consensus on which is the best way forward. One size does not fit all. Your strategy should suit your company and it should work for your business. There are, as yet, no clearly defined standards for social marketing.
Objective based social marketing campaigns
There are lots of email campaign software packages which will help you track email click-throughs to help you become more effective in determining which parts of your content are successful. It is important to understand what is relevant and important to your audience so you can track key market trends—what is hot at the moment and what is not in your market. Analysing your metrics and performance helps you to get as much data as possible from any analysis tools that you use. It is much more difficult to measure the ROI from social marketing than from traditional marketing, and that—s why measuring the effectiveness of any online marketing activities you do is vital to your go-to-market strategy.
There are three basic rules for social media if you think of it in terms of marketing:
Influence is everything. Strive to influence positive responses from your audience.
Engage the audience and engender open discussions.
Use these positive responses and open discussions to develop your online relationship with your consumer.
Your objectives need to be clearly defined from the outset. This approach is often not about the direct sale to the customer, although Dell has managed to use offers delivered through Twitter to achieve direct sales with its DellOutlet Twitter account. Are your current online efforts making the impact you want them to in the market? Are they having any impact at all? If you haven’t defined your objectives and end goals clearly enough then your business leaders will be quickly disappointed by the end result, and your investment in time and money will be wasted if your senior leaders come to the conclusion that your approach has no value or is of no help to the company’s bottom line.
Bacardi in Ireland has had success in engaging its audience through Facebook. Its distributors switched from micro-sites to a Facebook page in 2008 and created an application within Facebook for any competitions it would run. Its campaigns focus on user interaction and it encourages comments on each of its Facebook entries. It also engages the users, responds to comments quickly and grows its fan base by asking people to ‘like‘ its Facebook page in order to enter the competition. This is a successful strategy which gives Bacardi great engagement and interaction.
Before you embark on the measurement of metrics it’s important to consider the costs of this strategy, which is not only a financial cost to the business, but is also the time that you and your staff have invested in using the tools to promote your brand or product. If you’re hosting your own company blogs, then you need to consider the cost of bandwidth, blogging software and server power to cope with the increased traffic your success will bring. When Twitter started out, every tweet sent by every user was in the software, housed on a couple of servers under a desk in the office in California. As more and more people used the network in the early days, it was plagued by downtime and an over capacity message accompanying an image of birds trying to hold a whale aloft’an image that early Twitter users quickly termed the ’fail whale’.
You need to consider how you would deal with runaway success in carrying out your social media strategy.
You may have created the next darling of the social media world—the next Twitter for example so you need to account for the possibility that this could happen when you create social media strategy and plan. You also need to consider whether the ROI actually is more than the amount you—ve invested to implement your strategy.
When considering your strategy, you will be faced with a huge number of options and tools that you can use. Try not to use the scatter gun approach and ‘launch‘ in every area you can. Filter out the tools that will not be valuable to you. Should you consider Bebo, which is primarily used by younger users, for example, if you work for a heavy engineering company and want to market tooling?
Use a rating scale for these tools and decide which of your chosen channels will be valuable to you. Grade them on, say, a nine-point scale to make sure you choose the most appropriate for your business. Have a look at your own business and decide whether a social media strategy would be appropriate, or which parts of your business would benefit from using social media to broadcast your message. There are some factors which may negatively impact perception of your brand online and other opportunities to enhance your brand. Try using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis—just as you would when pursuing a large business deal, to see whether you actually want to go forward with the plan at all.