Are your social media marketing plans under constant scrutiny and questioning? Whether you’re an in-house marketer reporting to senior level execs, or a consultant who needs buy-in from the client, you will eventually be asked to defend the value of social media.
But making the case for social media isn’t quite as easy as it used to be. Early on, all you had to do was show some readily available stats about the popularity of social media. Showing your boss or client how many people use Facebook (remember “Facebook is the 8th largest country in the world”?) was enough to get the right people on board. Now that social media is a regular part of life, it’s no longer about proving that the audience is there. The people you need to earn a “buy in” from are familiar with social media because they use it. They understand its general use and popularity — they just aren’t sure if social media marketing is worth the investment.
Today, it’s all about showing how social helps the business meet various types of goals. Once you know which goals your decision maker is focused on, you can map out your case. Here are three potential areas to focus on when developing that case:
1. Social Media’s role in moving customers forward on the path toward buying
No matter what industry you’re in, your customers go through a series of steps on their way to making a purchase. They consider, evaluate, buy, experience, advocate and bond with your brand.
Social media allows you to use targeted marketing responses at different points along the customer’s decision-making path, from exposure, engagement in social channels, activity on your web site(s) (traffic, soft conversions, hard conversions), sales, and word of mouth advocacy after a sale has taken place.
Warning: Senior execs will often skip right over what you can tell them about how social media drives exposure, builds trust, and opens up the door for a deeper relationship. You can do two things to combat this: 1.) Remind them (early and often) of the importance of reaching prospects earlier in the sales cycle than the competition (you have more time to develop trust, brand recall, etc.); 2.) Get in the habit of measuring and reporting a holistic picture of the entire process (see the screenshot above of a Social Snap dashboard). By measuring throughout the funnel, you can create some very compelling metrics that will speak their language and show the value of that initial exposure and engagement in social channels (time to close a socially connected lead, cost to acquire a socially connected customer, LTV of socially connected customers, etc.)
(Note: For more on this topic, download our white paper: Meaningful Social Media Measurement)
2: Social Media’s role in obtaining good search engine rankings
Social media is playing a larger and larger role in online visibility – including search engine results. The more social media authority a brand builds, the more relevant that brand is determined to be for a particular topic. Google in particular has started incorporating Google+ status updates into its search engine results and other search engines are taking note as well. Publishing popular content, updates, contests and other engagement tools can boost your visibility and lead to more direct traffic from web searchers.
3: Social Media’s role in saving money
Everyone wants to save money on advertising and marketing. And while social media isn’t free, it can often be far more cost effective than other online advertising options.
You can prove this with numbers. By tracking the right Social Media ROI data, you can calculate cost comparisons until the cows come home. Wouldn’t it be nice to show decision makers that social media customers cost less to acquire than paid advertising, or that the socially connected customers create additional value for the company by driving new leads through word of mouth?
It all starts with data. So…
How do you show the value of social media to decision makers? Are there tools or tracking techniques that you use – or wish you had?