It is time for interactive marketers to start holding social media marketing accountable. Many times, early adopters of marketing technologies become enamored with the solution they champion, instead of taking an analytical approach that will ultimately facilitate its development.
Set Simple and Clear expectations
Too many social media marketing programs lack clear and specific objectives. Every program that leverages the social Web should have a defined call to action that can be evaluated against a specific outcome, whether a purchase, subscription or other track-able action. The call to action must also be assigned a value for contribution assessment. “Increase Facebook Fans” is only a valid objective if you first define the value of the fan. Once calls to action are clear, be sure the program offers transparency into the number of conversions driven by social media. This is the number that will support future investment in new channels.
The real opportunity on the social web in 2010 is turning customers into affiliates. Social media has transformed the way consumers interact with brands. Marketers can no longer rely solely on direct programs to deliver their message to prospects. The message should be seeded with brand advocates who are incented to act as affiliates within their social networks. Brands must test relevant incentives and determine what motivates their best customers to recruit new ones on their behalf.
Remove the Blinders
It is easy to get excited about social media’s potential, but too much excitement can create blinders that prevent you from accurately identifying strengths and weaknesses as a marketing channel. By outlining key performance indicators, you can identify points of weakness and optimize for enhanced performance. Start with these:
- Reach: When an advocate shares, how many people do they engage, how many emails do they send, how many posts, etc?
- Viral Engagement: When an influencer shares, how engaged is their network and what are the click-through rates from invitations?
- Monetary Contribution: When an influencer shares, does their network convert?
Watching these metrics closely will allow your organization to optimize programs and ensure continued investment in social media. Holding social media channels accountable will enable them to become an integral part of the direct marketing arsenal. Social media must rely on us for expectation setting, incentive development and analysis/optimization – only then can it be as transparent as other channels and garner a larger portion of the marketing budget.