Blogs, Twitter, Facebook it’s all the hype with today’s marketers and leaking into the fabrics with business owners and entrepreneurs jumping on the latest buzz words and making a best attempt on understand what all of this Social Media means, and how it can work for their business.
Reminds me of the dot com era when businesses jumped on the cart to put a website online, but not truly understanding how it will work for their marketing and business and provide value, other than doing it because everyone is, and of course bragging rights.
I receive at least 3 of these questions a week, and many more of prospects calling in asking for these services, but not understanding what they are, how they work, or most importantly, what value and ROI will they receive out of it. And this is where we begin…needs, objectives, metrics and ROI. Though while every self-proclaimed “Social Media Expert” may have the answers that sound good to the prospective client, the proper answer simply is understanding what Social Media components will work best for the prospects/clients business, and presenting those key performance indicators to benchmark those components, and the resulting ROI. Too many web marketing companies and publishers will have different ways and means to measure a Social Media campaign success, and while many may be correct, the rapid growth of Social Media space has resulted in to many complimentary metrics to gauge campaign performance and effectiveness. So a good starting point is to first understand some standard definitions for Social Media metrics to give a foundation of how to measure Social Media campaign success, and from this, tailor the metrics to the clients objective(s).
IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) released in early 2009 a proposed standardization of these Social Media metrics to lay the foundation for publishers and online marketing experts to get everyone on the same page. Similar to early days of the web and analyzing website performance by the various metrics available at that time – hits, page views, visitors, etc.
The Social Media Metrics standardization expands on the fundamental metrics in an effort to make campaign reporting for agencies and advertisers more consistent and less wild-wild-west. You can download the Social Media Metrics document here. It also offers some segregation between 3 distinct channels of social media; and supplementary metrics for each channel; Social Media sites (ex. Facebook), blogs / blogosphere, and widgets and applications.
The rapid growth of the web, and new channels and opportunities to reach individuals and markets arise, Social Media is the latest that “actually” offers value to both the consumer and the business. Social media, such as blogospheres (definition: group of blogs on a specific/related subject matter), offers a new way to tap into, observe, engage and create conversation with your market – whether broad or niche. Its a means to speak to individuals who are actively engaging and interacting with your brand, and those who may be the most influenced and/or evangelists of what you’re offering and the purpose of the business.
How these people interact with your brand can be done in many ways on the web – publishers, social networks, blogs, forums, applications, etc. – and its the opportunity of the company to listen and attain real-time feedback. This is most essential in various stages of a a customer lifecycle, especially at the peak and tipping point in the bell curve where the company has the last chance opportunity to re-define its offering, whether through a subtle improvement and new product all together, that caters to what the market is telling them they need, or want.
Now back to the metrics on how this is all measured – refer to the standard metrics, and tailor the appropriate metrics to the campaign. Every campaign may be similar, yet unique in how the campaign is measured. It may be something simple as page views, or more in-depth of measuring conversations, link-backs / ping-backs, and dialogs or analyzing referral Social Media traffic to direct eStore conversions and sales, or a value assigned to additional Google market share in the SERPS (search engine result pages).
Social Media offers a two-way means to participate with the consumer, unlike previous online formats that offer one-way (ex. online advertising and behavioral analysis). Social Media in essence has created a paradigm shift in how marketers can reach and the market, and accumulate direct feedback to satisfy market demands and needs.
The participation factor of what Social Media offers both sides truly changes the landscape for marketers and business. Already due to the medium of the web, people can/are talking about your business, brand, product or service. Companies marketing that fail to listen or participate in the conversation, will see either sharp lifecycles of consumers, or watch their competition be first to meet markets demands.
Aside from these obvious benefits of Social Media, its also compliments and supports other web marketing strategies and channels as organic Search Marketing and attaining further natural search result market-share, instantaneous dissemination of information – whether its via RSS (real simple syndication) to email or online to other sites as Facebook, or industry sites, or even via Twitter.
Let’s not forget the application features of Social Media to allow those influence’s and evangelists to share, participate and propagate the campaign message. A holistic approach to see how all these pieces come together to work as one, all contributes to a successful campaign. And this is where consideration of what metrics or KPI’s will be used to determine how the strategy will best benefit from Social Media, and that will monetize the clients campaign.