Herding Cats and Social Media ROI

I was recently part of a social media panel at the first Internet Marketing Conference in Calgary. First of all, respect must be given where it’s due… it was an absolute pleasure to share the floor with some of the brightest minds around including Gillian Muessig, Alli Marshall, Patrick Schwerdtfeger and Doug Lacombe.

One of the topics we discussed was ROI of social media and throughout the conversation, there were a few common threads I will try to distill into a few key points below.

Who are you trying to reach?
This should be the first question to ask yourself. Before you even consider creating yet another DOA twitter account or a Facebook fan page, get to REALLY know your customers. Investing time and effort here early will save you many headaches and barrels of cash later.

Recently there was a question posted on one of my LinkedIn groups asking what social media channel gives the best bang for the buck. Guess what? There is no silver bullet. If there was, everyone would be using it. The best way to approach a social media campaign is to really research your ideal customers. Get to know them really well. You should know what they do in their free time, where they like to hang out, if they have dogs if they hike on the weekends if they research online before buying a TV and so on… Those insights will allow you to pinpoint the most effective social media (and traditional) channels to reach them.

Don’t follow where everyone else is going, get to know your ideal customers and go where they are.

What does success look like?

I’m of the opinion that marketing success equals an increase in revenue. That is the reality of business. Perhaps you have a different opinion about what success looks like, but before you embark on pulling the trigger on a campaign, do this first: Determine exactly what your objectives are in detail and build out from there.

Having specific goals such as “we want to grow our mailing list to 10,000” is a simple, real, measurable goal. With a specific goal, your social media campaign will have the context to go with the idea. Perhaps running a contest to win a MacBook or offering a free consultation to members of your database?

If you know your ideal customers well, you will know what they value and therefore be able to put together a better value proposition for them to join your database (or whatever your short-term goal is).

Defining success allows you to put a measuring system in place to gauge the effectiveness of each piece of your campaign. If your facebook fan page is not delivering, then consider switching gears and connecting with a LinkedIn group, or allocating some dollars to an online video. One of the easiest ways to implement a measuring system is to use Google Analytics and a specialized landing page.

Define specific goals and find a way to measure against them.

What is the core idea?

Social Media on its own can be pretty weak. To me, social media is like leg of a table. It is just one of the touchpoints for your customers. While it is entirely possible to run a campaign that heavily leverages social media, there still needs to be a core idea… a story… a goal.

When I consult with businesses looking to embark on a digital marketing campaign, we focus on creating the core idea before picking the channels. This ties in directly with the idea above regarding defining success. If social media is leg of a table, the core idea is the table top. A core idea or concept could be providing educational videos to new mothers through a specifically designed website.

Find and focus on one core idea and then think about which channels would be most effective in a supporting role.

What is your story?

Stories are the heart of effective ways for ideas (and products) to spread. When communicating with an audience of any sort, the message is much stickier if there is a story behind it. Something that can quickly and easily be understood and repeated. One of the best examples I can think of at this time is Tom’s Shoes.

His story was the catalyst that catapulted the founder of Tom’s Shoes (interestingly enough, his name is Blake Mycoskie) to international recognition and thought leadership. Their story can be easily understood and retold, making it easy for a medium such as social media to spread the message.

Does your business (or campaign) have a story? How would you boil it down to the basic blocks into something that is simple and can be retold without losing its essence?

I will leave you with this short acronym that will put things into perspective when you start thinking about your next campaign:

P – People (who are you trying to reach?)

O – Objective (what is the goal of this campaign?)

S – Strategy (how does this support our overall business strategy?)

T – Technology (what are the most effective channels?)

8 thoughts on “Herding Cats and Social Media ROI

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