We have reached a natural epiphany in our lives as online professionals; for the first time, content has become an integral part of the marketing mix and impossible to ignore.
The organic life cycle of marketing channel integration often ends with the reluctant acceptance by business owners and directors that the channel has to be addressed and embraced. For content, this time is now and not just for online PR content but content for SEO too.
Of course, the rise of content has fuelled the fires of its most popular and fundamental guise; social media. After all, 140 characters still qualifies as content.
The biggest online companies in the world have tried to develop, expand and even own the social media space and it’s now time for all online companies, no matter how large or small, to do their bit too.
Here I will attempt to answer, the most pertinent questions regarding the implementation, management and measurement of social media within a business. Whether you’re building your company’s first Facebook fan page or executing your latest five-figure social media campaign, the post is designed to help you orchestrate your social media activity.
I should start at the beginning, but I won’t, because I think you’re here for actionable insight, not a how-to guide.
“PPC drives trackable conversion, social media doesn’t even compare! Why should I bother?”
OK, I know it’s not really the done thing to an answer a question with another question; but ask yourself this: “How do your customers know you sell the product they just searched for? How do they even know who you are?” The answer, in the modern web, is online brand awareness.
PR has evolved into content marketing and social media – why rely on expensive magazine advertising to promote your brand when you can put yourself on the computer screen of a potential customer who has purposefully volunteered to see your content via a Facebook Like or a blog subscribe?
Find the people who want to hear what you have to say, talk to them and ensure that when the time comes, you are – to use an old PR term - front of mind. See what I did there?!
This is why direct ROI is not always the most effective way of measuring social media as a channel, instead why not measure conversation?
“So how do I measure conversation?”
There are some metrics which really pose a problem when trying to convince your “powers that be” that social media is the right direction to move in, for example:
- Engagement rate
- Online brand sentiment
- Audience size
There aren’t many £££s at the bottom line of those metrics, but what they do portray perfectly is how your brand is being perceived by your potential customers and how interested they are in what you have to say. This makes these metrics necessary figures to be reported, and not for the reasons you might think.
Engagement rate is imperative because not only does it show levels of interest in your content but it also shows the wider web that you are influential and authoritative in your social space; a sure-fire way to help the search engines see just how important you are. It’s also become apparent in the last 12 months that platforms like Facebook are using engagement rate to determine your likelihood of appearing in social streams.
Sentiment helps you to understand opinion and mood surrounding your brand online. More important that the %s themselves, however, are the shifts visible when you act… monitor the positive/negative ratio and ensure that what you’re doing has a constructive impact.
I’ve mentioned audience size here as a bit of a red herring, because it really isn’t an essential metric, but I wanted make the point that if you are achieving high engagement rates and positive sentiment then your audience size becomes less important. Influence and engagement trump volume in the social world. We are however governed by the need for headline stats, so be prepared to still need it to get buy-in within a business.
While we’re on the subject of numbers I’d like to give a very specific yet useful tip; don’t try to report social impressions alongside, for example, email send numbers or PPC impressions.
Whilst unique impressions in the latter two channels are essential (not least from a cost point of view), in social media a fan seeing your post 4 times has value, in some cases even increasing value as they see it on each occasion. This is influencing, which can lead to the holy grail of social media marketing – the advocate.
“I’ve got an audience but they don’t engage, how do I make them love me?!”
There’s a very simple question, which needs to be answered in order to truly solve this conundrum: “Do you know who your audience are?” It’s probable that your social media audience is very different to your print or email audiences, so that market research from 2006 might not cut the mustard anymore.
As in most walks of like, the only way to get to know someone is to talk to them and it’s no different in social media. Define your audience and talk to them in a way that appeals. Your audience and business objectives will form perhaps the most essential element of driving engagement – tone.
Is your social objective to sell? To organise? To excite? To fight fires? Each of these will define a relevant tone for the audience, so ensure yours fits.
“People are using our company social presence to say some pretty nasty stuff and complain, I think we should close our accounts. Is that the right thing to do?”
Think about the amount of money your company spends on customer service each year. Telephone infrastructure, call centres, staff, issue tracking software. It adds up.
Now think about how each and every customer issue encountered via that workflow is dealt with in a private arena, between the customer and no more than a few customer service staff. Now imagine all of those issues being played out in public forums, both within and outside your control.
This is the darker side of social media, where freedom of speech can become a burden and one false move can result in a torrent of viral backlash. Negative sentiment spreads contagiously.
The advice here is simple. Do not ignore it!
Someone once told me that a happy customer will tell one person about their experience, an unhappy customer will tell five and an unhappy customer whose issue has been dealt with satisfactorily will tell ten.
Remember this mantra and realise that not only will the latter customer tell ten people, the whole issue has been resolved publicly, giving anyone who sees it the confidence to know that buying from your brand will be a smooth process, whatever happens.
“Who should own social media in my business?”
PR, marketing, web development, internal communications, IT, every function within your business has a responsibility to contribute to your social media success. Even how employees talk about the business on social media platforms is still a responsibility that must be communicated and managed.
In the early days it may perhaps be more efficient to integrate social media management into an existing employee or team, using scheduling tools offered by most 3rd-party social media tools to minimise man hours. Encourage said employee to use similar tools to regularly monitor social streams, both on your social media platforms and beyond, looking not only for mentions of the brand name but also products and services too.
It’s essential that whoever has the day-to-day duties of managing your social channels have the skills to work cross-function and to co-ordinate multiple stakeholders, as so many fingers in the pie can lead to a broken crust.
- Be proactive in your conversations. Start them, but always strive to finish them in a positive way.
- Be reactive when needed. Make sure you have the processes and responsibilities in place to ensure your reactivity is structured and well informed when called upon in crisis management situations.
- Use the tools available to you. There are some great free and paid tools out there to help things like planning and reporting become a whole lot easier and more consistent.
- Speaking of planning, plan! A concrete eight-week plan makes daily management more efficient and a loose six-month plan helps define strategy.
- Be worth talking about. Your audience is willingly giving you ears for your voice, every interaction should be worthwhile.
- Monitor > Engage > Influence
- Social media is like a romantic relationship. Create the spark, put in the effort and remember that you have to take the rough with the smooth. It’s all give and take. “To me, to you” if you will.
(Gratuitous cult TV image!)
- Failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers. (Source: Gartner)
- 37% of brands would like to use social media engagement to create customer-tailored marketing campaigns. (Source: Forrester)
- 60.2% of marketers are looking for analysis options, as well as other analytics options, in their social media management tools. (Source: SEOmoz)
- A high-impact recommendation from a trusted friend conveying a relevant message is up to 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than a low-impact recommendation. (Source: McKinsey Quarterly)
- Get hold of Econsultancy’s Digital Intelligence Briefing on managing and measuring social media, it highlights the need to focus on engagement and conversation and also the importance of allowing social media to join the front line of your business’ efforts.
We hope you enjoyed this post. This post was written by Zazzle Media’s new Operation Manager – Mark Leech