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So you think you need a social strategy? Sure, but that’s just part of it

In 2012 there was a mad rush from companies to understand the value of social in all its complexities. What could social media do? What value could it provide? How could the company engage with its users? As a result there have been numerous traditional agencies suddenly becoming digital marketing specialists and providing their clients with complete social strategies. There have been promises of guaranteed followers, likes and shares which may or may not have been achieved.

There was (and still is) so much jargon that many businesses were sucked into the social media marketing black hole. Please note that many of those were successful and marketing teams breathed a sigh of relief as Directors, CEOs and other high-ranking officials nodded their heads in appreciation of the high number of followers, likes and shares. However, unlike their marketing counter parts, these high rankers have a goal that must be met – ROI.

Return on investment is difficult to measure from a social media perspective. What is the value of a like, follow or share? Can it be equated to the lowest possible sale value of a single unit of product? No – because for every 10 likes only one user purchased the product! This is just an example, but remains true in essence.

In no way were the efforts of social strategists wasted. The value of social media cannot be overlooked as an indicator of brand love, strength and reach. Engaging in social media provides fantastic opportunities for businesses to grow communities, increase customer service, create new sources of lead generation and (most importantly) engage in honest and open communication.

However, what many businesses failed to realise was that, in many cases, social media was casting the net – but you still need to pull it back onto the boat.

In reality businesses need to look at “digital strategies” for 2013. They will need to create measureable conversion points using actionable items. This can be anything from a sale online to simply filling in a contact form. Social media marketing created a pool that needs to be driven to conversion points to generate a measurable ROI.

Picture this:

Company A wants to create awareness on the importance of Math (just an example). The entire campaign revolves around how math can change your life and the lives’ of others and is called “Maths Now”. It is a fantastic campaign and gathers many followers, generates huge amounts of content and interest. Users then go to Google to find out where they can learn math. They type in “Learn Math Now”…. but, you never optimised your site to rank in Google nor did you look at the paid mediums available to companies online. In fact your competitor cottoned onto the campaign and began to target high value terms and they now own the first page. Furthermore, they started targeting ads on Facebook and Adwords and control 90% of available digital space.

The social campaign was a success, but the follow through was poor and the ROI followed suit. If the business had focused on a full digital strategy the return could have been as high as the social value of the selected platforms.

The example is just to create an understanding that digital needs to be treated with an all round holistic perspective. Start where you would with a traditional strategy before looking at the bells and whistles.

  1. What is my business need?
  2. How am I going to achieve it?
  3. What are my measurement points?

As mentioned before, social media is the net. You have cast it out, gathered many users and now you need to pull them back, but how?

Remember that website thing you had built way back when?
Some businesses are so caught up in using the most amazing of all tools on the web that they forget that they have a website (sounds odd but I have seen it happen). Remember on your website you can control the entire user experience. Essentially this is where you should drive your prospects and it should be built to focus on what your business considers important conversion points and necessary user actions.

Tip: Decide what conversion points for your business are. These could be:

  • A direct sale
  • Submitting a contact form
  • Liking the business
  • Following it on Twitter
  • Simply being exposed to the brand information

Don’t try and make your site do something it just cannot — people don’t want to buy their house online so don’t try to sell it there.

People will search!
The majority of all users will look for a product/brand/service in Google (or equivalent). So be prepared and know that:

  • The majority of those users will not look past page one of the results — therefore you need to be on page one for your targeted terms.
  • Search Engine Optimisation is highly important.
  • The value users attribute to first page results can reflect both online and offline.

Tip: Understand the difference between white hat and black hat SEO. Many so-called SEO experts will sell you on a “quick fix” black hat solution that may have short-term gains with bad long-term consequences.

Learn to target
You can target your users and create experiences designed to convert. Landing pages and Adwords go hand in hand for getting the most out of digital advertising.

  • The landing page should be optimised to get a user to perform a specific action
  • Landing pages should be easy to use and understand (5 second rule!)
  • Make sure you add your conversion tracking code from Adwords or an equivalent. Remember you need to aim for quality leads

The great thing about Adwords and landing pages is that you can measure the entire user journey. You can achieve the same effect with Facebook advertising and other paid space online.

Tip: Create separate landing pages. Drive traffic for conversion when using paid media. Try not to direct paid media to random pages on your website.

Focus your targets
If your campaign targets a particular theme make sure you have optimised your content to be representative therein, i.e. Learn Math Now means you target “Math”, “Learn Math” and “Learn Math Now”.

This goes back to search optimisation but will form a strong portion of your content marketing strategies.

Tip: You know your business, brand and product/service better than anyone. Think about:

  • Questions your clients ask. e.g. “Where can I find the best sushi?”
  • Terms specific to your industry e.g. “Sushi”, “Japanese food”
  • Terms important to your clients E.g. “Best spots to eat Japanese Food”
  • Once you have done this you can begin to look at their online value. Google Adwords’ keyword tool is a good start.

Take the space
In many instances using paid media online can be of great benefit in controlling the organic spaces. Essentially you need to get traffic to your site. Organic ranking can take time but using organic ranking techniques in conjunction with paid media can increase the rate of return that a businesses’ digital space can produce.

Tip: Adwords is a base level that you really need to engage in. It can be complicated so think of taking on a digital partner here.

Remember your business goals and objectives
A digital strategy needs to fulfil a business goal/s. There must be a focus for the activities with measurable end results. Remember to use SMART objectives (Simple, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based).

Tip: Get to grips with online measurement tools. At the very least understand Google Analytics.
Your business model will provide the base for how you need to begin looking at the online environment. In return, the digital environment will provide new opportunities and challenges. They need to be treated with care and from a holistic approach. Even in cases of budgetary constraints it is possible to plan for success.

Author | Rhys Downard

Rhys Downard
Rhys is an online marketing specialist at digital agency Flint Studios. He reckons that If it is online, affects your reputation, can be leveraged for maximized returns or requires an unheard of response technique, then he's your man. The online world changes every day, provides endless challenges and forces... More
  • Thank you for the insightful article Rhys. In terms of business-to-business we have discovered that the best way to measure success is through subscriptions to our “opt-in” weekly email. You can measure Likes, Follows, Shares, etc. but it is hard to equate these with revenue. Our email subscription process asks for company name, position in company and country besides name and email address, so we can do targeted email campaigns to these persons which hopefully convert into offline meeting, requests for proposals and revenue generation. The prrof of the pudding is always in the eating so once the sales comes rolling in, no-one complains about marketing budgets. Regards, David Graham, Deloitte South Africa @davidgrahamsa

  • Weird, your title had zero to do with the content.

  • Hi Simon. Hmm, yes I can see what you mean. Sometimes I don’t quite think titles through well enough. Sorry if it is a little obtuse.

  • Hi David. Thanks for the feedback. I agree that “opt-in” provides a more tangible metric to social especially with the added advantage of good data capture opportunities. I think that for the following year the companies who will show the best digital ROI are the ones who get it right for THEIR business and not being a jack of all digital media trades. I like to tell clients that the shoe needs to fit the foot. For me the businesses putting the time (and patience in seeing results) and capital into good research, strategies and tactics and that do not treat digital as a add on will prosper the most. Thanks again David – Keep well

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  • I am not in complete agreement that opt-in to email is an accurate metric to measure effectiveness by, but I love the fact that Deloitte takes it a few steps further to ensure that each opt-in becomes a tangible prospect and eventually a sale. Great work.

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