Social media is still in its infancy. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Reddit – these stalwarts of social media are less than a decade old. As such, many users as well as marketers are still stumbling around the field, trying to make sense of it. Until a few years back, marketers did not even have reliable analytics tools to measure the success of their social media efforts.
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In many cases the ROI of a successful social media campaign can be hard to measure. A lot of a time the real ROI can happen a lot further down the line. The number of clicks, impressions, likes and fans are just a small factor into measuring a successful campaign. Turning these numbers into meaningful conversions will be something that many social campaigns will struggle to achieve. This can be disheartening especially when cost per lead is a lot easier to measure through other channels. The big question is: how do you avoid a dud social media campaign?
1. Pull, don’t Push
Social media is not very amiable to traditional push marketing. Social media is about conversations, and if there’s anything that can kill a conversation quickly, it is a heavily branded, obnoxious advertisement. Brands that try to replicate traditional advertising on social media channels usually find little to cheer later.
Social media responds very amiably to pull marketing. When a prospective customer likes you on Facebook, or follows you on Twitter, they are opening up to your marketing messages. Thus, they’re a pre-qualified lead and is far easier to convert.
2. Know your audience
Research is key when planning a social media campaign. Social media monitoring tools like Brandwatch can offer you quick insight into where your audience exists, what they talk about and what sort of marketing messages they respond too. Compared to traditional market research, social media monitoring is relatively cheap and can provide a large amount of relevant data at the click of a button.
With traditional market research gathering information from large sample sizes can be a lengthy and expensive process. The opposite is true with social media monitoring, the data available to you is huge; making sense of that data is the tricky part.
3. Don’t Be Besotted With Numbers
The quantity of your followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook matters far less than the quality of those followers. Social media marketers often obsess over their Twitter follower/Facebook friend count, regardless of whether these leads were grown organically, automatically added, or grown via advertising. A Twitter user who follows you only because you chose to friend him is merely responding to the quid pro quo social rule of Twitter and is worth far less than a user who followed you willingly. Numbers matter little; what matters is how you grew those numbers. Ultimately which is better, 1k unmotivated and unresponsive fans or 100 engaged fans?
4. Content is King
In the noise of social media, it is easy for brands to get lost in the conversation. It has never been more important for brands to create top-notch content that stands out amongst this noise and gives them a platform to attract attention organically. Content is the foundation of any good social media marketing campaign. Create great content, engage in conversation with your followers, and you’ll soon find your social media influence skyrocketing.
5. Engage and Converse
The Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad was one of the most successful campaigns in social media marketing history. It was successful because it spoke to its audience in its language. The original ad was funny enough to strike a chord with viewers, but Old Spice upped the ante by creating ads responding to specific tweets. This was a great example of how brands can listen to their followers and engage them in conversations through quality content. Any superstar social marketing campaign should hinge on this very principle.
6. Measure and Improve
Once your campaign is out in the big wide world, it doesn’t end there. Even a dud social media campaign can deliver interesting insights that will help you improve for your next campaign.
Google Analytics launched its social media reporting back in April 2012. Social Actions data in Google Analytics is still quite basic at this stage and only gives top level stats. More popular social actions like Tweets and Likes are not tracked unless you customise your tracking code, and even then there are gaps in what this information can tell you.
If Google can persuade Facebook, Twitter and the other major social networks to join them as Hub Partners and share their data then we will be getting closer to a complete social media monitoring platform. Until then you may find yourself doing a lot of number crunching to properly establish whether you achieved your social ROI.