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7 Ideas For Social Media And Business

Category : social marketing

38

social-media-toolbox.jpgValeria Maltoni over at Conversation Agent has invited me to contribute to a string of posts dedicated to businesses measuring the ROI and success from social media efforts. If you haven’t already you should check out Valeria’s site – I think much of my audience would find her content very useful and engaging!

I’ve been asked my thoughts on companies measuring social media efforts many times. In fact, I’ve gone through the process of justifying the effort and definitely have a strong opinion. If you’re a marketing manager wanting to jump into social media, but your superiors are hesitant to give budget for the effort, you really need to think out how to position the medium.

I don’t think you can put a dollar figure on social media to prove ROI. You’ll have a hard time showing what the revenue increases were from your blogging or other social media efforts. The medium has not advanced far enough for that. I also don’t think that the medium is wide-spread enough that you can justify ROI with only subscriber count and number of comments. Many senior executives wouldn’t know what an RSS subscriber even means.

With that said, I think this is a very viable form of corporate marketing and there are a number of ways the medium can be sold up the chain and measured throughout the year:

  • Don’t Isolate Social Media: Position social media as a component of your overall marketing plan. If you engage in print advertising, you’re used to making the case that print advertising is a branding component that is used to support your overall marketing messaging. Like social media, the ROI from print advertising is very hard to measure. Social Media should be one medium you’re using among many in your communication with your audience and customers.
  • Sales Tool: When is the last time you created a brochure and were asked to measure the ROI from that effort? You created the brochure to support the overall success of a product or service. The brochure helped to position and describe your product development effort. Blogging as a social media medium could be considered along the same lines. With every piece of content we create for our company blog, we make sure our sales people are aware they can share that content with interested customers. It essentially becomes a unique and innovative tool they can use to spread the word. As long as you’re providing useful content for your audience, they’ll appreciate your effort and most likely visit again.
  • Feedback: We’re also finding success in using blogging as a method for gathering customer feedback through surveys, new product ideas and product feedback forms. Social media is supposed to be a conversation, correct? Well, treat it as such and allow your audience to participate in the future of your products. We’ve already received valuable feedback that rivals that of an individual order placed.
  • Promote Realistic Expectations: I think many marketers who are into social media and blogging are a bit misguided as to the affect blogging will have on marketing efforts. In the marketing blog community, you can start a blog, link out to 50 other bloggers in your first week and pick up traffic and subscribers that are fun to measure. Not all niches have that opportunity. Many communities lack a large enough niche in which to socialize. What then? I encourage people in less sociable niches not to pump the benefits of thousands of subscribers, millions of page views, or hundreds of comments. It could take years to develop that following in some online communities as the medium matures. Focus less on expected statistics and more on how social media will be integrated with the rest of your product marketing efforts.
  • Multipurpose Content: As a small business marketing manager, it’s always music to my ears when someone says that we can use content we’ve created for multiple purposes. If you’re blogging, you should be creating valuable content. Have you thought about using portions of that content for an eNewsletter creation or the beginning of a white paper? Make sure you have a plan to have multiple purposes for your efforts.
  • Go Find Your Customer: One easy case I was able to make for blogging was the ability for our company to more easily go meet our audience where they begin most online searches that lead to our website – Google. Most of our website traffic originates on Google so it only makes sense for us to continue our efforts to get in their search results. Blogging platforms are very solid ways to optimize content for search engines – especially if you’re updating often and using the right methods.
  • Stats: I know, I know – stats are important. I just didn’t want them to be the focus of this post because not all social media efforts should be measured with analytics. Believe me, I do follow our stats, but I pay more attention to subscribers, comments, and from where the visits originate. These are important statistics to gauge how well your audience is receiving your content.

In two years, I’ll guarantee that there will be measurements in place that prove ROI from businesses engaging in social media. This method of conversing with your audience is growing by the day. But right now we need to focus on social media as a tool in our marketing toolbox that supports all the other tools we’re using in our marketing plans.

I’m supposed to tag some people to also contribute to this conversation, but there are so many people I’d like to hear from that I don’t know where I’d begin. For starters I’d like to see what Marty, Matt, Pat and Stoney have to say. But, if you have opinions and want to chime in, please do – and send me the link to your post and I’ll add it this one.

Reader Responses:


Comments (38)

Very nice article. Social media, as anything that draws a crowd, has a place within marketing that I find many of the smaller businesses I work with ignore. I recommend they start a bit slow since they often have major doubts or concerns. I find when they do that, and remain honest in their marketing efforts, they often enjoy the social media experience and appreciate its value.

Thanks again.

Hi Pat,

Your post inspired me to join into the conversation (http://www.emergencemarketing.com/archives/2007/11/measuring_roi_on_social_m.php).

I am not sure that measuring social media based investments is so difficult. What is difficult is to work with marketing metrics that are deficient to start with…

Thanks

Francois

Francois,
Thanks for joining in – I put a link to your article in my post.

Excellent points about defining success and working with the right measurements. I’d be very curious how your research project turns out!

-Pat

Hey Jim,
Thanks for commenting! Taking it slow is a good point as well. I think it’s pretty easy to jump in too fast with too high of expectations.

-Pat

Patrick, I think your list of potential ways to measure the ROI of blogging is good, especially your point about integrating social media into your overall marketing plan. However, I disagree we have to wait two years before any measurements will be in place that prove ROI for businesses engaged in social media. I think a number of case studies and white papers have demonstrated the value of social media to marketers even within traditional measurement criteria. My personal favorite from two years ago would be Macromedia. The people using blogs and other social media at Macromedia believed the ROI came in the form of higher rankings on search engines, suggestions for products, and direct sales.

Patrick,
Thank you for the invitation and the thought-provoking post. The entire thread raises terrific points regarding reality and expectations. I’ll join the fracas via a post tomorrow. :)
Marty

John,
Thanks for offering your opinion – I appreciate that! You make a good point. There are case studies that show the power of social media and the positive value the medium can have.

Reading back over my post, I didn’t make my point very well. I should have stated it more to the fact that more people will be aware of the medium and the potential measured results. It will be easier to sell up the chain as deserving of a spot in the marketing plan. The measurements and results will be more widely know. I didn’t spell that out very well.

Thanks for chiming in an correcting me!

Great, Marty! I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Thanks for the clarification, that makes much more sense. Yes I agree we will be further along. After all, only 10% of the fortune 500 are currently blogging. Though I think adoption rates will continue to be slow, and a lot slower than adoption rates of other online marketing strategies and tactics. Social media requires too big a cultural change.

Hi Patrick:

We have been doing some serious work on measurement of social media results and tying it to meaningful measures – like sales.

I am going to put up a post on it – but in the meantime here is a link to a case study on our Online Promoter Score (done in conjunction with MINI and Northwestern University)

http://www.motivequest.com/main.taf?p=1,2,1,1

More to follow soon.

Regards –

Tom O’Brien

Here is my post on it.

Social Media Measurement

Tom O’Brien

Very good post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter. Social media is defintely changing the landscape; and the ways that marketers are talking with their customers.

Tom,
Thanks for contributing! I put a link to your article in my post.

Very interesting study on measuring the online promoters in correlation with sales figures.

-Pat

Michael,
It’s a fun topic to talk about! Conversing with customers through social media is growing so much each day.

-Pat

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I just saw your post on a BlogRush widget and I thank God I came here.

I agree with your article.

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Any thoughts on the general idea that traffic from social media sites is of a lower quality than the traffic from search engines?
Thanks,

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Patrick,

These are very useful tools. I’ll make sure and implement them into my online businesses and blogs.

-Jason

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Very nice article. The tips and tools given are very useful. I generally take a print out and put it on the notice board of my office so that more and more people can read and get to know…..I am going to do the same with this article of your’s.

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Patrick, nice post. Totally agree – it’s impossible to measure the impact of social media because its everywhere! For example, if I’m shopping on an ecommerce site like target.com, and I see that a product was given 5/5 stars and has raving reviews, I might decide to purchase that product. But maybe I’m not comfortable with giving my credit card # over the internet so I go to a Target store and buy it there. The online review, which is basically a form of social media, brought me into the store, but there’s no way for Target to measure that.

All we know is that social media has the ability to boost (or negatively impact) sales significantly, but we don’t have a way to quantify.

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