Social Media: Are You Convinced Yet?Friday November 26th, 2010
Even with convincing arguments from marketing directors, you have to wonder why CFOs and CEOs are sitting and waiting for more financial proof before they carve out a line for social media in their budgets, as if ROI (a very specific financial measurement) is the only metric to quantify the value of social media spend. What about brand saturation, engagement, loyalty and reputation with consumers?
People are spending 4.6 hours per week on social networks, surpassing email at 4.4 hours per week, according to the TNS “Digital Life” survey of internet users around the world (Sept. 2010).
Still, there is hesitation and sometimes denial from C-level executives concerning the value of social media marketing, especially within small businesses. Even with convincing arguments from marketing directors, you have to wonder why CFOs and CEOs are sitting and waiting for more financial proof before they carve out a line for social media in their budgets, as if ROI (a very specific financial measurement) is the only metric to quantify the value of social media spend. What about brand saturation, engagement, loyalty and reputation with consumers?
Even if your company doesn’t sell products online and a conversion is hard to define, there are interaction metrics such as “likes”, comments and increased web traffic. These metrics are still too vague, intangible and unsubstantial for some decision-makers who pull table scraps from other lines of an already tight marketing budget to get started with social media.
Let’s step back and talk about some of the benefits and capabilities of social media marketing:
- Social media provides a 24/7 customer service and risk management platform for brands to stay current on all compliments, complaints and more serious issues like product malfunctions
- Social media is an immediate and intimate platform to communicate with fans and customers
- Social media adds revenue through ecommerce applications such as a Facebook storefront
- Social media provides a great channel to test ideas, campaigns and applications and get feedback from loyal followers
- Social media increases brand buzz from advocates engaging with the brand and sharing their experiences
- Social media is no longer in an experimental phase and oozes potential for marketers to immediately connect (and stay connected) to their fans and consumers
Ford took an innovative approach to unveiling the much anticipated 2011 Ford Explorer on Facebook, breaking from the traditional car show premier. Ford’s sales are up almost 22% this year (Reuters) and whether or not you want to attribute some of the growth and success to social media initiatives, the numbers are impressive.
Are You Still Doubtful?
Burger King might have been doubtful, too, when they launched the “Sacrifice Ten Friends” Facebook campaign, which attracted 20,000 new users and resulted in 200,000 sacrificed friends. Read more about the campaign and other big brands using social media here.
You get the point, let’s move on.
Start With A Plan
Before calculating a value for your social media marketing, or even deciding what initiatives make sense, objectives must be clearly defined. What are you looking to accomplish with social media? Eli Gassert of the social engagement platform, Yunno, stresses, “To be successful with our applications and contests, we need a strong understanding of the client’s goals, expectations and current following. We need to know what would be a measure of success that would make them happy. 100 new fans? 1,000? 10,000? Or is it a different goal altogether?”
Be Patient, You Won’t Be An Overnight Success
There’s more you should know. Social media can forge long-term connections and loyalty with less up-front expense than traditional advertising, but it takes time, a lot of teamwork and intelligent creative content. It can take six months to a year to establish a presence and even longer to build an engaged, receptive following. As Megan Smith of Brownstone PR describes, “[brands] don’t understand that there needs to be a plan in place. It’s not as simple as just posting promotional items every once in a while. Brands that still question whether they should fully embrace social media as part of their marketing strategy don’t understand the value and how Twitter and Facebook really work.”
If you’re still on the fence, give it some time and thought, and maybe you’ll find your footing in social media when it makes sense. It’s fine to experiment at first to help you test content and messaging. When you’re ready to hit the ground running, start with clear objectives and a solid plan.