Commentary

Social Media Conundrum -"What's Next?"

Many brands innovate with content strategy, digital strategies and conversation – and are doing it well. They are aided with tools to help effectively measure “engagement,” such as likes, views, and sentiment within content and conversation channels. But in an environment where data, performance analytics and attribution are essential, how do brands shift from soft metrics to sales? Are soft metrics easier to measure? Yes. But how are they affecting the bottom line for your business.

Yet there are still outliers – brands who “don’t find value in social” and therefore do not allocate budgets necessary to execute successful acquisition strategies.

How can a brand justify the cost of social media programs today without tying efforts directly to revenue? The culprit is disparate marketing platforms and soft metrics that may not motivate CMOs to buy into big spends.

Within organizations today, many ecommerce leaders are responsible for developing acquisition and retention strategies that incorporate overseeing SEO, content strategies, display advertising, email marketing, commerce, social media and loyalty. This has become a necessary structure in helping to understand purchase behavior, trends across platforms and predict revenue growth. It can be attributed to how social media has caused a dynamic shift in the relationship between brands and customers.

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If you have seen the marketing cloud, you know the number of companies that are multiplying within the social media space, making “claims” to prove ROI. And for the past few years, brands and agencies have been inundated by partners – they’ve tested, they’ve failed, they’ve seen small successes and currently, may be experiencing the “now what?” syndrome.

While some may consider moving away from social, it’s important to keep in mind that social is a leading source of business intelligence that can help create the foundation for customer engagement and purchase behavior.   It is also the leading influencer in how consumers are buying, from recommendations by friends, to loyalty programs in social.

1.     Social marketing success begins with strategy. Leveraging partners who can offer technology + strategy will help close the gap between concept and execution.  Everyone (brand, agency and savvy partner) needs a seat at the table and should be talking about KPIs, objectives, successes and failures, together. It’s the only way to impact change and drive successful results.

 

2.     Since social is a key source for business intelligence, use it. Define the customer journey and utilize data-driven applications to inform marketing decisions. Increase the value of customer outreach: Consumers are getting hundreds of ads and emails a day, so personalize communications based on behavioral insights. Give users what they want!

3.     Widgets, templates and turnkey applications are an easy fix. They may get you ‘Likes’. But, ’Likes’ do not = ‘Customers’. Brands need to position themselves better to acquire behavioral data and true customer insights that are actionable. Retire one-and-done campaign platforms. Remember the beginning of email marketing? It was challenging to position teams around this and understand technology platforms, but today, you would never think of using multiple email platforms to run one and done campaigns. You need evergreen insights to support ongoing campaigns so you can streamline analytics across all customer interactions.

4.     Experiences and memories are the new currency for brand-to-consumer connections and have the power to drive brand affinity and word-of-mouth referrals. Build experiential programs that offer utility for customers will help identify customer preferences.

5.     Be the best at matching your product to a “lifestyle.” Create interactive programs that allow sharing, incentivize referrals and reward loyalty. Marketing strategy needs to incorporate social from start to finish. Once you understand the storytelling aspect of why consumers like your brand, you can begin to understand the impact they have on your business as influencers.The more consumers feel they are part of the brand story, and fabric, it will solidify their loyalty.

6.     Every campaign needs media support, but your audience demands better quality of information. Utilizing Open Graph and Sponsored Stories are the sweetheart of many successful campaigns. It’s important to use data and analytics to target the right person and the right time with a more qualified “story.” Don’t just buy ads, buy targeted ads, leverage partners can help you identify and customize your audience to drive higher and more qualified conversions that result in sales.

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