Is your social media investment paying off? For many CMOs, the answer is “no.”
This is because many marketers still embrace traditional and siloed social media strategies that focus on community building and engagement. Brands applied this approach in the early days of their social media efforts, but they are now realizing that this strategy can no longer deliver the return needed for a successful marketing program.
We’re now in a new era of social media, with new rules for success. By following the five tips outlined below, CMOs can develop and maintain profitable social media initiatives that will keep campaigns working hard and generating a strong ROI, while leaving the old, outdated ways of managing social media behind.
1. Social Media Is Paid Media And Should Drive Business Results
Gone are the days of measuring success on the sheer number of fans and followers a brand has amassed. Social is no longer about “buzz” or community building. Instead, it has transformed into a tremendously powerful paid media channel that is capable of delivering real business results for brands of all shapes and sizes. Paid social campaigns can successfully:
- Drive awareness as a complement to other awareness drivers
- Increase consideration with a mix of relevant ads and targeted scale
- Deliver sales both online and offline
Not convinced? Many Fortune 1000 companies are already achieving these types of results through paid social today. Brands in CPG, automotive, retail, telecommunications, and other industries have demonstrated that paid social can help grow revenue and drive positive business results to achieve what was once unimaginable, including:
- Using Facebook media alone to generate millions in incremental shampoo sales
- Selling nine luxury cars through Twitter in only one month
- Leveraging FourSquare to increase in-store and online sales for a large telecommunications brand
- Achieving a four-digit ROAS and a double-digit sales lift through a social campaign focused on business objectives
To fully capitalize on social today, CMOs should plan their media investments holistically and truly understand the role social plays as part of the full media mix. They need to realize that social is just like any other media investment in that the CMO must prioritize metrics that have a financial or measurable impact, like sales or attitudinal shifts.
2. Integrate Digital Strategy By Planning With Your Audience In Mind
Marketers frequently allow content to lead the social planning process. For example, content ideas for tent pole events, like the Oscars or Grammys, often drive social strategies. In this scenario, the audiences’ specific needs and wants take a back seat to content ideas that are largely irrelevant to the brand and its target. Brands must then retrofit their audiences to creative assets. Ultimately, a content-led strategy leads to audience fragmentation and wasted dollars.
The good news is that the above situation can be avoided. CMOs can prevent wasted investments and improve social media ROI by encouraging content planning based on audience attributes. Content creation should be based on an aligned-upon audience, objective, and desired audience action. In addition, CMOs must assess differences in their audience types. Not all audiences need the same content. For example, content targeted to loyal consumers will mostly likely differ from content targeted to potential new customers. Addressing all of one’s audience types via an audience-first strategy will allow a brand to reach the right people with the right message.
With an audience-first social strategy, a brand avoids fragmentation, improves message relevancy, and achieves optimal reach and frequency at lower costs.
Audience-first digital framework:
3. Fill The Marketing Funnel, Not The Newsfeed
Social media promised to be an extension of a brand’s CRM. Because of that, brands aggressively grew their fan bases to reap earned impressions. However, the opportunity for earned impressions quickly faded as newsfeeds became overpopulated by: people sharing moments, brands looking to score free impressions, and traditional publishers trying to gain readership. Today, the feed is so cluttered that on average less than 10% of fans see a brand’s organic posts.
Since filling the feed does not provide a strong return, consider using a third-party market research firm to pre-test social creative. This enables brands to develop content that is on target for their audiences at every stage in the buying funnel. Furthermore, investing in research can have a significant impact on a social campaign’s ROI by helping the brand to:
- Ensure only the best content launches
- Keep messaging consistent across posts to deliver impact and fill the funnel
- Reduce extraneous production budgets
- Prevent production of content that will have limited exposure
4. Shift From Reactive Real-Time Content To Proactive Right-Time Messaging
Many brands take a reactive real-time approach to social media, and the truth is, this approach has risks and consequences. It can lead to irrelevancy, inauthenticity, and of course, wasted budgets and/or a lack of results. For instance, think back to the great dress debate of 2015. Countless brands participated in the conversation of white and gold versus blue and black, but was this viral phenomenon truly relevant to every brand and its specific audience? Most likely not.
CMOs should ensure their teams shift to proactive right-time messages to prevent these issues and to improve overall return. Start by defining the moments that matter to customers and the brand. For example, if your brand is a must-have for any Super Bowl party, do not bid to be seen during the actual game. The inflated costs and additional clutter could lead to a disappointing return. Instead, focus on the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl when your brand must be top-of-mind for the party planners starting their shopping. Planning in advance for these meaningful moments allows you to target your audience at the optimal time and create efficiencies that improve your bottom line.
5. Take Social Out Of A Silo
Social campaigns are often executed and managed in silos. This siloed management can lead to problems like missed opportunities, conflicting strategies, miscommunication, duplication of work, and cost inefficiencies. Fortunately, integration can help prevent these issues and can offer countless other benefits.
There are many opportunities for brands to integrate their social programs, especially with search marketing. In partnership with Forrester Research, Catalyst took a deeper look at the benefits of and opportunities for the integration of brands’ search and social efforts. Through qualitative research, Catalyst and Forrester sought to evaluate how online consumers use search and social throughout the customer lifecycle.
The resulting whitepaper, “Why Search + Social = Success for Brands” (short registration required to download), found that search is a trusted source for discovery and that social allows consumers to connect in a meaningful way. It also found that customers who use search and social together spend more online overall. Over 50% of consumers who use both search and social said they spent more than $250 online in the past three months. This same group of consumers is also 9% more likely to act as brand advocates than consumers in general. (See additional findings in the infographic, below.) In order to effectively and efficiently target these high-value consumers, CMOs should work to create a complementary relationship between their search and social efforts.
Remember, social media should be driving ROI. CMOs should expect and demand that it deliver business results beyond community building and engagement metrics. Use these five tips to evaluate your current social media approach to ensure the bottom line is driving your campaigns.