By MIKE GINGERICH
Social media continues to gain speed in the online world. Due to the huge adoption rate and use of some type of social media by the majority of Internet users, many large brands have taken the plunge and have integrated social media as part of their overall business marketing mix. For small- and medium-sized businesses, however, many have only dabbled in social media or are yet to really jump in.
Particularly, companies where the leadership does not regularly use social media personally themselves have been the most reluctant to jump in. Often this is because these business leaders don’t understand social media, see it only as social fun, or do not recognize how social media can be used for business. In addition, they may struggle with how to measure social media investment as it relates to business objectives.
There are a number of forms of return on investment that can and should be measured with social media. In order to determine the best method of measurement for a business, the leadership and those in marketing, need to review the company’s objectives and determine how and where social media marketing should fit in. Then map out the path that will measure how any social media is contributing to reaching these goals.
Social media can be tied in with the following three areas of objectives for any company:
Core business goals
Common business objectives include increased product sales, increased overall revenue, reduced expenses, and gaining efficiencies that reduce costs. Developing a marketing plan that details how a social media strategy can be measured as to how it supports one or more of the company’s objectives will be very valuable to gain buy-in from company leadership. Examples could include creating a Facebook page for a product line and growing a fan base to reach more potential customers with news about this product, as well as to reduce customer support costs by using the Facebook page as a channel to answer customer’s questions quickly and efficiently. The number of fans can be tracked to show fan growth and awareness of the company in key demographic areas. As well, posts on a Facebook page wall can be tracked and categorized as support related and time invested to answer as compared to time spent on a similar support ticket via phone.
Marketing objectives are the goals of any particular marketing campaign. Common marketing goals are to build greater awareness of the brand, grow the email opt-in list for future email marketing campaigns, increase quantity and quality of leads coming via the website, and increase conversions of leads to sales online. Marketers can fairly easily setup tracking and show results of how implementing a social media program will achieve these goals with measurable results. Adding a Facebook page tab to the fan page with a email sign-up form on it and then using this tab URL in tweets, Facebook posts, and other means can (1) determine specific traffic from each source to the tab, (2) Can measure brand awareness growth via new fans, and (3) can offer a specific measurement of new opt-ins to the email marketing campaign via the tab sign-ups .
Digital / web objectives
This is a more specific marketing arena that is related to all online efforts, such as web, mobile, and including social media. Common objectives measured in this area are increased sales from online leads, increased online leads, more satisfied and loyal customers and increased customer engagement. Using tools to track from tweet to website conversion, or from Facebook link post to customer lead can be methods to measure the impact of social media related to these objectives. As well, creating custom segments in Google Analytics website traffic tracking allows marketers to get data and easily create reports, as well as review and modify strategies based on results.
As companies weigh how much to get involved in social media as a marketing method, establishing a plan for how a specific use can be tracked and contributes to business and marketing goals is essential. This helps break down the details of how social media will be tracked to measure it’s specific impact.
Mike Gingerich leads the Social Application division of web design company, Digital Hill Multimedia (http://www.DigitalHill.com). He is a co-founder of TabSite.com, a leader in Facebook fan page tools for businesses. TabSite offers brands the power to boost Facebook marketing with contests and promotions. For more information on TabSite, please visit www.tabsite.com.