Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Understanding the Business Value of Social Media Marketing

Last week David Carter, Founder and CTO of Awareness, provided insights about how the field of social media marketing is maturing. We are a long way from completely understanding the business results for social media efforts and an even longer way from fully integrating them into a single-source set of marketing metrics. But real progress is being made in understanding and communicating business outcomes.

Awareness has a new ebook, with the lengthy but descriptive title “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing.” That is, after all, what we as marketers want to do, and we have to link our efforts to actual revenue generation, not just to having a bunch of people who like us! This is the funnel; the entire book is well worth reading. Note that they start with what is essentially segmentation. Their definition of a social profile is the “aggregated interests, comments, and overall behaviors of a fan, follower, or RSS subscriber to a branded social network platform such as a brand’s Facebook fan page, Twitter profile, or blog.” The definition alone is challenging; it requires a full view of the person’s behaviors in social channels which is a big order for the social media metrics capabilities of most firms at this point. However, in order to influence, the marketer must first listen to what the customer is saying. That’s a keystone of SMM strategy.
Next, the marketer must have clear goals that impact the business. Those can range from qualifying and nurturing sales leads to providing excellent customer service and more. Then there are a variety of engagement strategies that marketers can use including engaging in conversation and collecting feedback. Most marketers will find that they need to use all these engagement strategies at one time or another. Which they use will depend as much on the stage of the customer’s relationship with the firm (customer lifecycle) as on the marketing campaign or on the product. This all fits nicely with the organization of Awareness’s social media hub software—publish, manage, measure and engage.

In his presentation he talked about these stages:
• The first is a robust content marketing strategy, deploying (and “repurposing”) your content widely across the web. A large firm will need a robust content management system to both facilitate and control the content marketing process.
• It is essential that the marketer first listen, then engage in the conversation the customer wants to have—not the product-oriented conversation the marketer wants.
• Collecting feedback required monitoring and, carefully done, leads to the social profile.
• Then measure results that can be linked to business outcomes.
The presentation represents reflections on the state of our art from a respected practitioner. Take a look.

In it he asks the question that all marketers must keep asking themselves—for their corporate SMM strategy as a whole and for each campaign they run: what stage of the customer lifecycle do we need to impact? If you buy my argument that all SMM is lead generation, then the practical question becomes “what is the definition of ‘conversion’ for this particular SMM activity?” Is it a fan for our Facebook page, a qualified lead for our sales force—what exactly? Can we link it directly or indirectly to our SMM activities? Those two questions help focus the mind of the social media marketer.

It also leads me to my favorite quote from the ebook. Jeremiah Owyang says, “Don’t give engagement data to executives, as it doesn’t measure the actual effect on business goals.” Ouch; I wonder how many of us have made that mistake.

Social media marketing is moving in the direction of proving its actual business value. It has a way to go, however, and all of us should play an active role in moving it forward.


Vanda Gould said...

social media marketing impacts business much this days, it helps in boosting good presence online.

Richard said...

Social Media does get you some visitor, if you do it well, you will get a lot

geocliks said...

Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!

SEO Los Angeles