Over the course of the last 12 months we’ve met over 150 social media marketers with the aim to understand what challenges and problems they face while building social media presence for their companies and clients. We have spoken to marketers in different industries from retail to professional services, we’ve spoken to global brands and local practices and we’ve spoken to the brands just starting out in social media, as well as well established.
Processing the feedback, we have put together a simple framework highlighting the 3 stages each brand, small or large, goes through while building their presence in social media. Our main takeaway was the understanding of why the question of measuring social media ROI has been getting escalating attention recently. Namely, the question of ROI comes into play only at the moment when the investment in social media reaches a tipping point. Therefore, we’ve decided to share the framework to get your thoughts and feedback.
1. Growing: The branded Facebook page is created and the Twitter account is set up. However, no one’s rushing to “like” or “follow”. At this stage the key objective of the marketer is to grow the number of fans and followers either by using the paid advertising (such as Facebook Ads) or by running the contests and sweepstakes that facilitate viral growth. This task is especially challenging as you want to build a community of engaged fans that care about the brand, rather than just boost the count by giving away iPads.
As the community is still small, the technological requirements are simple and straight forward: native Facebook and Twitter interface satisfy the needs for publishing and managing the responses and Facebook Insights allow tracking the fan growth.
2. Managing: As the community growth to tens of thousands of fans and followers or more, managing the community becomes the key challenge. Instead of using email or help line, people prefer the Facebook page to leave feedback, complain about the service and ask questions about the offerings.
Native publishing and management tools fail at this point, as neither Facebook nor Twitter provide a convenient interface for handling thousands of comments or mentions and a professional social CRM becomes a must. Moreover, the social media team within the organisation grows; thus, requiring robust ways to manage the roles with respect to publishing updates and tweets, approval process and managing negative sentiment.
3. Monetizing: As the brand’s presence in social media continues to grow (and so does the investment) and the problem with managing large community of engaged followers is addressed with the use of enterprise-level social CRM, the question of measuring and maximizing ROI comes into play.
Again, the social media team faces the fact that neither native tools, such as Facebook Insights, nor the analytics functionality of the chosen CRM allow measuring ROI. In the best case scenario, the properly set up web analytics suite might provide some insights about the incremental sales generated through social media, but in most cases social media teams would be left with engagement metrics only. At this point the social media team goes on the search for the technological solution to the problem.
As mentioned before, this framework allows understanding better why the interest in social media ROI measurement has been escalating in the press and brands’ minds over the past months. Namely, more and more brands have passed the first two stages and are looking for the way to measure and justify their investment in social media.
We hope that this framework will help crystalize your thoughts on when a brand should start caring about measuring social media ROI and we’re looking forward for comments and feedback to build on top and improve the framework!