While there’s hardly a company around that isn’t using social media marketing to some extent, many are not using it all that effectively. I hear folks commenting on how they’re not sure how to figure out their return on their investment or how to know if they’re making any kind of impact.
In order to assess your social media marketing results, let’s first ensure we know what kinds of benefits we can get from social media. Social media marketing is made up of four critical elements:
- Social Listening
- Social Influencing
- Social Networking
- Social Selling
Each of these is important in your quest for success in building and engaging an audience online.
Like any other activity, you should start with the outcome in mind. Write down what you hope to accomplish by adding social media marketing to your marketing plan. Are you looking to increase awareness, are you looking to find other influential individuals in the marketplace, or are you looking to generate new prospects?
It’s important to capture your goals prior to engaging so that you can measure and understand what’s working and where refinements are necessary. Write down what needs to happen in order for you to classify your activities as successful.
Social listening is about monitoring social networks for mentions of your company, its products and services, as well as, responding to customer service requests. Much of this revolves around reputation management issues as it relates to the social web.
While many don’t think of social media as an arm of their customer service, it is in fact. If people know you’re out there, they will ask questions and expect timely answers.
Your goals for social listening might include:
- Reputation management
- Increase customer retention (keeping the customers you already have)
- Reduce the number of refunds
- Identify product gaps (people may communicate some of the services and features they wish you had)
- Identify content gaps (people may ask questions that aren’t on your web site)
Social influencing is about establishing authority and credibility on the social web. This is accomplished by creating, sharing and distributing valuable content across your networks.
Your goals as it relates to social influence might include the following:
- Increasing engagement—the number of people that know, like and trust you
- Increase traffic to your web site
Social Networking is finding and associating with other authoritative and influential individuals and brands on the web. Who you know is just as important as what you know.
The ways to measure your social networking success includes:
- Getting mentions or interviews, links, invitations to speak at events
- Developing strategic partnerships (develop mutually beneficial partnerships with influencers)
The whole idea behind social selling is generating new leads and sales from existing customers and prospects from the social web.
Your goals should include:
- Generating actual leads /growing your email list
- Customer acquisition (seeing sales from new customers)
- The repeat buy which is the cross-sell or the up-sell
- Increasing buyer frequency
Now go back and examine the goals that you wrote down. For example, if you said you wanted to increase your web traffic, you want to ensure that you are employing Social Influencing tactics. If you said you wanted to generate new leads, you would put together your plan for social selling.
Now let’s take a look at what you’ve been doing across your social networks and see how that maps up to your goals.
Social listening is about monitoring your social channels –(blogs, posts, forums, etc.) and responding to issues that involve customer service or your brand’s reputation. The task at hand is listening and engaging in conversations about your brand, competitors, topics relevant to your brand and those considered influencers in your industry.
Listening online helps you become a better marketer and can help identify any issues with your products and services, in some cases, well before customers tell you about them. It’s not uncommon for people to go onto a social network and let off some steam about an encounter with a product or service that was unsatisfactory. The objective is to get ahead of these situations and nip them in the bud, addressing them at the first sign of an issue.
Not only will you listen for and respond to negative feedback and work to address it, you’ll also amplify the positive feedback that comes from customers.
Social influencing is about increasing the number of people that know, like and trust your brand. The best way to do this is to distribute content that entertains, educates or inspires your customers and prospects. Social influencing is done to make more people aware of the products and services that you offer.
When you’re performing social influencing properly, you should see your website traffic increase, as well as, an increase in engagement with customers and prospects.
Like networking offline, social networking is about associating with the brands and people that are influential in your industry. The intent is to get them to start talking about you and your products. Media mentions in written articles and blog posts are desirable. Interviews and invitations to speak and links back to your company page are all valuable from a social networking perspective.
But networking is a two-way street. You should be equally prepared to make mentions of those same folks that you are looking to associate with. You want to mention them, compliment them and even engage with them directly. This is about creating relationships and this takes time. You have to invest some time and effort to eventually benefit.
For most companies, this is the ultimate goal of social media and probably the only thing they’ve been thinking about since they began using social media as a marketing tactic.
Social selling is generating leads and sales as a result of your social networking participation. However, if you aren’t engaging in social listening, social influencing, and social networking, your social selling isn’t likely to be all that successful.
The idea here is to carefully mix in status updates that might include a call-to-action where a prospect can receive valuable content in exchange for their contact information. When used sparingly in conjunction with posts that truly provide value and entertainment and inspiration to your audience, this can be a very effective way to create new customers and sell more to existing clients.
Go ahead and inventory the kinds of posts your company is delivering on the various channels where you’re active. How do they measure up? Simply take the last 10 social media posts on each channel and calculate the percentage of updates that fall into each of the four categories.
Then go back and look at the goals you identified earlier. Where are there gaps? You’re after social media marketing results, so wherever you see gaps in the kinds of posts you’re generating, work at creating posts that better map to the goals you’ve established for your social media marketing. Make changes to your social posting based on what you’ve learned here and continue to analyze and measure your results.
Your goals may change over time so be sure to revisit your goals every 6 months. And don’t forget that social media trends and tools change and get updated. Every six months, inventory the social channels you’re participating in and see if they are still relevant.