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Understanding the Value of Social Media Buzz and What It Can Do For Your Business

These days, social media is the buzz word in marketing and a global trend that has gotten everyone of every age engrossed in one, two and possibly even several social media sites. Everyone is on it, in one form or another. But what is it exactly?

Social Media Explained in Plain English

The term social media has been carelessly tossed around and used too often in online marketing. But what is it really about? In essence, social media incorporates the use of online technologies and methods that allow people to share personal opinions, content as well as swap insights and perspectives with the rest of the world.

Social media content can take different shapes and forms:

  • Text – often used to write or put across personal opinions or posts
  • Images – photos are used to display anything of interest
  • Audio – podcasts can be created to other users to download
  • Video – video content can be shared to engage, entertain or educate Among the most popular social media sites at the moment include:
  • Social Networking: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+
  • Wikis: Wikipedia
  • Video Sharing: YouTube
  • Photo Sharing: Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr
  • News Aggregation: Digg, Reddit
  • Online Gaming: World of Warcraft

The New Approach to Branding and Communication – Moving Beyond Marketing

Social media has paved the way to a more powerful communication channel for companies to publish their marketing messages – all without the exorbitant cost. While we all know social networks is generally used by businesses to engage their target market and study consumer preferences and behaviours, the truth is, it has other equally powerful features that you can incorporate into your marketing strategy, with highly rewarding payoff at that.

Here are other areas in your business that you can apply social media to drive success:

  • Customer Service – One ideal example of this is Best Buy. With their Twelpforce, employees are empowered to provide prompt assistance on issues and queries. The ability to respond and react quickly is very critical in today’s market, especially in influencing and changing perceptions. Even if a concern has not been resolved immediately, customers will feel their issues were acknowledged and given attention in a timely manner.
  • Internal Communications and Collaboration – Small and large organizations can largely benefit from social media, in terms of file sharing, collaborative editing and knowledge sharing.
  • Recruitment and Retention – A lot of employees today decide on whether they want to be a part of an organization or not based on information derived from social networks. It can also present a powerful tool in sourcing social channels that exists through professional networks.

Understanding the Social Media Ecosystem

To effectively use social media to your full advantage, it is important to take time and learn how the ecosystem works and the emerging habits of the “social consumers”. Consider  each social networking site as a town and the ecosystem basically pertains to the infrastructure of that town.

Your knowledge of the ecosystem will provide you a virtual map to navigate your way around the streets and how to find the path towards connecting with your target market. According to the latest study conducted by Chadwick Martin Bailey, consumers who are both Twitter followers and Facebook fans of a certain brand will not only recommend it products or services but also buy from those brands. In the same study, consumers reveal that brands that do not engage in social media are perceived as “out of touch” and outdated.

So the main idea here is to focus your social media efforts on the power users who command influence within their social networks. However, it is also important to note that connecting with medium and light users will also help your business earn social proof and trust.

Converting Leads to Sales: The ROI of Social Media

Like any business endeavour, you naturally want to have a fair idea on the return of your investment in social media and not simply jump right in just because it’s the popular thing. The ROI cycle of social media can be separated into 3 stages.

Stage 1: The Launch

At this stage, 100% of your focus is on setting up accounts on the 5 Social Packs: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. While there are a number of other popular social networking sites, the 5 are considered to be the critically important ones. You simply can’t afford not to have the presence on all 5 platforms.

The Launch stage is more of execution with the primary goal of getting started. Here are the details of this stage:

Approach: Executional Objectives: Social Media Presence Focus: Short-Term

Results: Negligible

At this point, you won’t be able to expect any significant impact or derive results.

Stage 2: Management

At this stage, about 60% of your company’s efforts will be focused on developing the 5 social media sites. About 10% of the focus is directed towards the creative and brand offer and 20% on setting up quantitative metrics like inbound links, traffic, Facebook “likes”, etc. The remaining 10% will be focused on qualitative metrics such as survey results, pools and studying brand sentiment.

Approach: Tactical

Objectives: Customer Engagement Focus: Mid-Term

Results: Increase in Traffic

Stage 3: Optimization

During the Optimization stage, 25% of the focus is on gaining more leverage on all 5 social media platforms, and 30% will be distributed to creative and brand offer development, as well as the quantitative and qualitative metrics. The other 25% of the focus will be directed to improving the conversion rate and the optimization of campaigns. The remaining 20% will be used to measure the success of the campaign which will be the basis of your ROI.

Approach: Strategic Objectives: Social Media ROI Focus: Long-Term

Results: Increase in Revenue

Despite what many social experts claim that ROI of social media cannot be measured, there is actually a way to measure it. This process will require a better understanding of your customer lifetime value (CLV) or the average revenue generated by a customer during their entire engagement period with your products and services. This figure will be used to compare the results that have been generated on your campaign in social media.

For example

If a typical customer spends about $10 every month on a particular product and has been a loyal patron of a certain brand for about 3 years, this equates to the average customer lifetime value of $360.00.

Most companies are willing to spend about 10% of their CLV for the acquisition of new customers. This means they are willing to spend $36 to acquire a new customer who is expected to spend $360 all throughout her engagement with the brand.

So if your social media efforts will cost you $36, 000 for one full year, and your campaign will be able to generate 1, 000 new customers every year, then you definitely have a clear winner in your hands.

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