How to improve social media accountability

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While the social media channel provides a glut of data for those listening and participating, marketers have struggled to find relevant ways to tie time and money invested in the channel to ROI and sales objectives. DMNews asked marketing experts for advice on making social media more accountable.

Amanda Vega, principal at Amanda Vega Consulting, insists that engagement itself should be your primary metric.
Creating accountability and ROI measures in the sometimes elusive practices of social media can be a challenge for anyone tasked with direct marketing. The first part of this arduous task is to realize that ROI is a business term, not a media or social term. Social is much like other marketing activities that are vastly important to the bottom line but can't be necessarily tracked from activity to purchase. For that reason, social media needs to be given both direct and indirect assignment of success. You have to decide up front what the goals will be in this part of your marketing budget. Those might include increase in Web traffic, better search engine ranking, decrease in costs for customer service because you've used Twitter to lower the need for a call center, purchases, coupon redemption, better brand reach or recognition, or perhaps sentiment shift. There are tools that can help you with tracking all of these things, such as Google analytics, Radian6, and good old fashioned RSS feed readers. However, keep in mind that social media is really about being social and engaging. The real goal of the campaign, and what will certainly show up in overall revenue numbers, is to build relationships that extend your brand.

Anthony Di Biase, Executive Creative Director of Wunderman Southern California, says the tone of your creative and messaging is everything.

What you say, how you say it and what you do should be held to a higher standard than we sometimes use with other areas of our business. Treat your social media brand fans as friends. Your friends are more likely to believe what you tell them than a complete stranger would, and they certainly expect more from you in return. In general, you have an obligation to be more responsive, genuine, respectful, hospitable and helpful. If a friend bothers to tell you they don't like something you're doing, you wouldn't ignore it the way you might if it came from a stranger. For starters, you don't know how many other people might be paying attention to how you handle it. Be genuine and considerate and others may come to your defense. Shortcuts and less-than-truthful positions can be used, but they will ultimately sabotage your efforts. It's very easy for people to find you out, and once you break that trust, it's almost impossible to rebuild.

Steve Nielsen, co-founder and CEO of PartnerUp, says don't overdo the call-to-action.

“Social media is a powerful marketing tool that requires a call to action much like any other promotional device to get users engaged. But unlike traditional marketing methods, social media enables businesses to connect with their customers in deeper ways, requiring marketers to take a more innovative and unique approach in their calls to action.
Traditionally, marketing pieces drive customers to “call this number,” “visit this website,” “stop in for a discount,” or “claim a freebie.” However, social media marketers need to offer their customers something of greater value. Marketers need to show them what they can do to address their pain points, take into account their needs, and provide content and conversations that not only align with their own business objectives, but are relevant to their target audience as well. The call to action here may not be as deliberate, but it is still present. Social media shouldn't be about shoving messages and discounts down customers' throats. Instead, it should be about providing real value, and in doing so, marketers will spur their customers to action on their own accord.


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