Speed 20 February 2012

Last week, The Chartered Institute of Marketing released the findings of its latest Social Media Benchmark study in Marketing Week, analysing the success of the major digital platforms, to aid marketers measuring campaign ROI.

For anyone who thought social media earned its credentials a long time ago, the report’s findings show that the issues concerning its value and measurement are more on the agenda than ever. Added to the TNS Digital Life study released last year, which revealed that 61% of consumers didn’t want to engage with brands via social media, the future of the industry doesn’t look bright.

If you’re a marketer and feel lost, rest assured, it seems that you’re not the only one. Indeed, whilst the study showed that three-quarters of marketers will spend more money on social media in 2012 than they did last year, only half see its potential. So why such a low number? One brands measurement.

Whilst some brands have been investing in Facebook for the past couple of years, industry benchmarks are still inexistent and marketers are still confused about how to answer these two key questions:

1. What does good social media engagement look like?

It seems unbelievable that most of the tools which have been created so far focus on the quantity of followers/fans without analysing the quality of the engagement/participation. As some brands learned the hard way, someone who ‘likes’ or ‘follows’ you doesn’t always want to engage with you.

Tracking the number of followers/fans isn’t enough for marketers who need to justify their investment and therefore understand the measure of successful engagement:

–       How many ‘likes’ did you generate? Or comments?

–       How many times was your content shared? Or your links clicked on?

2. What’s the true commercial measure of effective social media engagement?

The study revealed that a third of UK marketers reported their social media activity as “not at all effective.” Only 13.7% qualified it as “extremely effective”; with Facebook being mentioned as the most successful social media platform with 16% seeing a commercial return on investment. Oreo, Harley-Davidson, Marmite or Cadbury Creme Egg to name but a few are known for generating great content on Facebook which resonate with their audience, who then in return engage with the brand.

Too many brands are still going down the social media route without clearly defining beforehand what success should look like. Instead of investing in social media for the sake of ticking boxes or having a presence, remember to ask yourself these questions and metrics and ROI should then be easier to define:

–       What is the main purpose of your digital platforms? Content creation? Customer service? Interacting with your existing audience? Consumer research?

–       What are the main objectives of your social media campaigns? Raising awareness of your brand? Supporting the launch of a new product?

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