by Laura Farrington, Social Media Executive at The Agency
Social media: love it or hate it’s here to stay. Even if you’re still trying to avoid it in your everyday life, the likelihood is that your company’s marketing team have felt the need to share, tweet or like something – and they’d be right to. The popularity and impact of social media is continuing to expand at a phenomenal pace, and brands both big and small probably need to jump on the bandwagon and get tweeting/sharing/posting if they want a well-rounded consumer-centric marketing strategy.
Today, everyone is a digital consumer, whether they’re digesting digital content or purchasing online. Gone are the days where building a good professional network or a sizeable customer base is done solely face-to-face. Last year, it was estimated that there were around 2 billion active social media accounts. This equates to a worldwide penetration rate of 28% – or 72% of all Internet users. With such a vast consumer base, it’s no wonder that 93% of marketers currently use social media for business reasons. But, despite widespread adoption, many still struggle with measuring the effectiveness of their social media activity.
So, before breaking out your social media strategy, there are certain elements you’ll need to research and define. Things like: your target audience; the best social channels for your brand; and what type of information your audience will be interested in. Once you’ve determined the fundamentals it will make it a lot easier to define what success looks like. Here are a few elements that can be easily measured and will indicate whether your social media campaign is effective at generating new business:
If you’ve done your research and know your target audience, their hangouts, their likes, their dislikes and how active they are online, then comparing these metrics to their levels of engagement with your brand should prove to be particularly telling. If, for example, you know that they have thousands of active followers, yet your brand rarely receives engagement, then you know something is wrong. Maybe it’s the content, maybe it’s the conversation, maybe it’s the time zone? Either way, working out what’s hindering your engagement levels will allow you to adjust it. Poor engagement levels means an ineffective campaign. It’s important to remember that what is right for your target audience, might not be right for the wider social media community.
This is a step up from engagement, because it relates to a direct monetary or informational exchange between a fan or follower and your brand. A conversion doesn’t necessarily mean a sale (although that might be preferable!), but it could relate to a registration, a like or even a share. If your social media strategy is forecasting a number of conversions but it’s failing to deliver, then start looking at where the discrepancies lie. Analyse the channels that are driving the fewest conversions. This will give a good insight into the more effective areas of your strategy and the ones that require more attention.
ROI (‘return on investment’) is the Holy Grail for measuring all marketing effectiveness, but for most it remains a unicorn. Most business leaders are understandably focused on company expenditure and seek proof in value add. Recent figures reinforce that most marketers are still finding it hard to measure the ROI of social media, because it’s rarely an effective direct sales channel. But fear not – social media is usually a long-term brand building process. So show the CFO how your social media presence compares with that of competitors, and share the diversity of your strategy, for example social media can be an effective channel for managing customer service enquiries as much as driving promotions, Dell have proved the case.
These are only a few of the ways your business can begin to determine how effective your social media strategy is. Measuring audience numbers, website traffic and leads from digital platforms as well as long term brand salience are all important things to consider. But remember being present in the social space is a good first step, but optimising that presence is what will really makes a difference, and once you’ve committed it’s hard to reign it back in.