Marketers love “shiny” things—new marketing automation tools, new analytics reports, and above all, new social media outlets. But “new and shiny” does not always equate to “valuable.”
I can speak from experience. In 2007, while at SAP, my team created a Facebook page for one of the B-to-B software products we were marketing. We had tens of thousands of “likes” and equal amounts of “friends.” We even won an award for the most popular solution in our market.
While we were patting ourselves on the back, we also had an underlying sense of discontent. Did our presence on Facebook increase product revenue? No. Did it improve customer sentiment or retention? No. Did it further any of the marketing organization’s goals? No.
When I talk with other marketers about social media, almost everyone seems to be stuck in the same place. We’ve done a good job establishing an online presence and figuring out the right platforms to reach customers. But most marketers admit they also feel stuck and uncertain about how to get their social media to the “next level.”
Absent a sufficient answer, many marketers default to simply doing more: We get on more platforms, we try to drive more followers or friends or “likes,” and we push out more updates. Doing more, however, is both unsustainable and potentially detrimental to your organization—but there is a better answer.
At Domo, we look at the next level of social media as aligning social initiatives to your organization’s business goals.
Here are four steps to get you started:
1) Outline your high-level business objectives
To take social media to the next level, marketers must have a grasp of the strategic priorities at the highest levels of the organization. Is customer retention a priority? Is gaining market share from a specific competitor on that list? Revenue? When you think about social media in this context, you can start to demonstrate how it can have a more measurable impact on the business, rather than just serving as a medium for increasing brand awareness.
2) Select which objectives can be reached through social media
Social media won’t have an impact on every business priority. For example, if a key business goal is to increase the company’s rate of receivables, social media isn’t a natural fit. Align social media initiatives to goals that you can impact and, of course, measure. Some examples might include customer satisfaction levels, demand generation or something as specific as event attendance.
3) Develop a clear plan for measuring social media’s impact
Once you understand business goals, you can map out the social media tactics that you expect will have an impact on your goals. Then you put your measurements in place. If one of your goals is to improve customer retention, you might create a social media plan to increase social engagement or improve sentiment. As you start measuring these factors, you’ll want to see the social media metrics in the context of customer retention data. Is there is a correlation over time between the change in engagement scores and customer retention rates? If yes, continue with the social tactics that are bolstering these scores and keep monitoring to see if the correlation holds true. If no, go back to the drawing board and try something new.
4) Feed the winners, starve the losers, rinse and repeat
To accurately measure social media’s effectiveness, you have to repeat this process over and over with constant testing. Social media today reminds me of the website craze 15 to 20 years ago. If a company had a website, the website was hideous. But we were all so elated to be online that we didn’t have the know-how to make it useful.
Now that we’ve all grown, we understand how critical user interface and user experience really is. So why should we have to learn the same type of lessons over again with social media? We can’t pat ourselves on the back for hiring a “social media specialist” and move on like so many organizations did with their website once upon a time; we have to test social media against our business goals, throw out the unnecessary and underperforming initiatives, and move on to the next goal.
How to Know You’ve Reached the “Next Level”
When you can point to a social initiative and say, “Here’s how social media is helping us impact our key business goals of X, Y and Z,” then you’ve made it to the next level. Welcome. The sooner you start to align social media behind business goals, the more confident you’ll be in its return on investment and the better you’ll feel about a pat on the back.