All posts in Social Media

History has a funny way of repeating itself. The good old days when the grocer knew every customer’s name, culinary preferences and marital escapades were quickly replaced by the detachment and stiffness of the industrial era. Big scales, automation, and the commercial marketing techniques brutally cut the warm-hearted connection between the retailer and its customers.

eCommerce

Today, the eRetailers are making significant efforts to re-enact that special bond with their clients, as part of their odyssey to gain trust, loyalty, appreciation, and naturally, bigger sales.

The advent of the Social Media turned the wheel in favour of the consumers. Its exponential growth over the last few years triggered the frenetic chase for eCustomers, right where they like to hang out the most: on the social networks.

By now, pretty much all online and offline retailers know they cannot continue treating customers as masses. And those who don’t … are probably learning it the hard way. People’s voluntary submission to social media made it possible for everything to become personalised. And thus, companies and brands came to learn their names, culinary preferences and, if they don’t cover their online traces well, even their marital escapades.

Oh well!

 

Make Social Media Matter to your Business

Let’s say you are an Online Communications Manager. As the one responsible for Social Media in your company, you have a hot potato in your hands. If you still think in terms of B2C, switch to P2P! Person to person, that is.

You get a carte blanche to dodge the rigid corporate identity rules and to connect in a more friendly, more direct and more entertaining manner. But does it mean you should be experimenting with rhetoric and hope for the best? We don’t think your CEO would like it. And you might give a bad name to all those content editors out there.

Instead, make Social Media “matter”, and by this I mean make it contribute to the company’s objectives.  One way to demonstrate its efficiency is to keep track of the business metric ‘return on investment’, or ROI.

Let’s go through the ROI formula:

Return on investment calculation

Here are three things you need to check on your list in order to make sure your Social Media activity is influent and you are actually bringing revenue in for your company.

 

1.    Tie Social Media to Business Performance

It all starts with defining your objectives clearly. Now, having fuzzy goals is pretty much one of the most common mistakes in business. People invest a lot of time and money in their companies, but when the time comes to measuring their results, everything becomes uncertain. It’s like throwing darts into a white wall.

Reaching business goals

“We want to increase our number of clients” is the perfect example of fuzzy goal. Does it mean that one more client would do? Or maybe ten thousand? The correct formulation would be, for instance: “We want to increase our number of clients by 20%”. Thank you, this is much clearer!

When it comes to Social Media objectives, things get even more complicated. Contrary to popular belief, Social Media does not have self-standing objectives. Remember! Being popular on web is not a business objective.

Social Media activities offer support to other business functions of the company, which already have their own goals. So you just have to plug in!

Voilà!

 

Basically, your task is to translate into company revenues your recently acquired, let’s say, ten thousand followers on Facebook. If 20% of them make an acquisition on your website, than you contributed to the sales objectives. If the customer support costs are reduced by 20% because more clients benefit from largely broadcasted online support, then you’re doing great here.

With LinkedIn, you can help the HR team to hire top professionals without having to pay a fortune in head-hunters fee’s. Checking out your competitors’ Social Media pages can give you instant access to valuable business intelligence. For Marketing and PR, Social Media input is the most obvious: instant direct dissemination and online reputation management. The golden rule stays the same:

Marketing golden rule

2.    Measuring the true cost of Social Media

You know there is no such thing as a free lunch, right? Then you know very well that Social Media, even if it runs on free online platforms, is not really free. In fact, there are a lot of costs involved.

Time. Ask yourself how much time you spend on Social Media. Is it worth it? Do you find yourself spending many hours every day posting updates, making comments, responding to messages, checking out competition and answering everyone’s comment and remarks? Try to find equilibrium between giving followers a close, personalised approach and managing your time efficiently. Put a time limit on every activity and stick to it, no matter what!

Time management

Human resources. If your company is bigger, you need to grow and manage a team of communication specialists. That means your department has to budget salaries for these people, taxes, benefits, and whatever HR costs it may imply.

Specialists. Whether you do it for a single project or for ongoing support, you most likely benefit from the input of SEO specialised agencies, web designers, advertising professionals and all those people that can make you look good online. Some of them may have substantial fees. However, nowadays competition is quite tough, which gives you a good hand to negotiate costs in your favour. And since they are good at what they’re doing, the return can be generous.

Equipment. There are countless gadgets that are launched ever so often, and you have to keep up with the technology, right? Laptops, tablets, smart phones … who can work without them? And they don’t come cheap. To these, you can add, of course, connection fees.

Productions costs. There has been a rampant increase in the visual content on Social Media in the last few years. Quite frankly, if you don’t have good quality photos, video, presentations, animations, applications and other such visual materials, your message gets washed out in the see of colourfulness and effervescence that Social Media has become.

Subscription web tools. In order to monitor and manage your workload, you probably use several web tools that offer a free or paid version. You may want to upgrade your HubSpot, Batchbook, Earlyimpact, MailChimp, HootSuite, NetVibes, or any other solution you embraced, to the Pro version. They usually offer valuable analytics for a reasonable fee and they help tremendously with time management.

 

3.    Measuring the effect of your campaign

Remember, if you can’t count it, it’s fuzzy. That’s why, when it comes to measuring performance, business professionals use the Key Performance Indicators, or KPI’s. Basically, it relates to hitting a specific target and it depends, naturally, on what you want to measure. Clicks, visits, fans, likes, followers, tweets, registrations to webinars, newsletter subscriptions, they are all potential Social Media KPIs.

Key Performance Indicator

So, as a direct consequence of our first two recommendations, you know by now that you should measure only what is relevant to your activity objectives. Otherwise, there are so many internet measuring tools out there, that you can spend the rest of your life measuring things that are neither critical, nor relevant to your campaign.

Let’s say your company sells shoes. And the Sales goal is to increase the volume by 20%. That translates into selling 1,000 pairs of shoes from the Spring – Summer ‘13 collection, known as “La Vampe”.

What would be the Social Media KPIs in regards to the sales objectives, for the period?

For example, something like this:

  • 10 000 likes on Facebook on the “La Vampe” fan page
  • 500 re-Pins of the shoes picture on Pinterest
  • 10 000 new click-throughs of links leading to “La Vampe” web content
  • 100 redeemed discount codes for “La Vampe” on the eStore.

It is important that you establish before you begin a Social Media campaign what data you want to track. It is equally important to have the means to correctly correlate it with the respective sales statistics. Now, this could be quite tricky if you don’t have access to data, which, depending on the company, can fall under the task of Sales, IT or Accounting departments.

In order to establish your Social Media activity contribution to Sales, here are some important numbers you should be able to track:

  • transactions per month
  • new customers
  • number of customers returns
  • amount spent per transaction
  • use of promo codes, vouchers
  • data from the same period in the past, to compare against.

Sales represent the most tangible business function, therefore the most obvious one to measure. But don’t let other functions, such as HR, Customer Support, Marketing & PR, go off your radar. Your activity can have a positive impact and you want to add it to your achievements. Make sure you collect and compare data from these departments and measure the difference your campaign makes.

 

Can you think of anything else I may have missed when measuring the effect of a social media campaign?

Your brand grows both online and offline if a strong and loyal community of people gather around it to care and support. The good news is that, thanks to Social Media, it is easier than ever to create and keep alive ‘n kicking an online community. The bad news is that it is just as easy to alienate it if you don’t follow the Social Media „rules of engagement”.

online communityKeep in mind that there is a difference between customers and community. Your customers are the ones who are willing to pay for your products and services. On the other hand, your community comprises people who value and admire your brand enough to be willing to spend time with it online. This is excellent brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing.

Cherish your community! Even if they aren’t spending their money on your business now, they keep your brand animated and relevant to the world. Online communities can help you find out more about the people who use your products or services and how you can improve them.

Being a member of a community is equally important. Like pages and groups on Facebook and post considerate comments, join Twitter conversations, make comments on like-minded blogs. But don’t turn it into an aggressive selling line, because it is regarded as spam. Be positive, engaging, funny and useful, and soon enough people will appreciate you for it.

When communicating online, don’t say the same thing on every Social Media channel, otherwise you run the risk of becoming redundant. Instead, try to modulate your message to address differently each type of community.

Here’s an adaptive marketing communication model that focuses differently on each social network.

 Social Media Mix

 

Let’s say you run an online furniture shop. This is how your Social Media mix could look like:

  • Blog: home decoration trends, furniture design news, space organising ideas
  • Facebook: pictures of new articles, best sold product of the month, special discount coupons
  • Twitter: announcing sales days, new furniture lines
  • LinkedIn: vacancies announcements
  • Google+: design news, home deco expert presenting their vision to your community.
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