Report: Marketers’ social media quandary

The ROI of particular online platforms might seem murky for industry pros, but a new report suggests you look beyond the pros and cons of some popular channels. Here are highlights.

Though social media often feels like an imaginary land of “likes” and shares, its marketing benefits can be very real.

This week, the digital agency Good Growth released a report highlighting a few clear connections between social media marketing and an organization’s betterment.

Though the report states there is still “no credible evidence for a return on investment in social media,” it points out that the upsides for various organizations are robust.

Marketers have suggested that as long as there’s a well-executed strategy (no more tweeting in the dark), certain social media content has spurred significant lead generation and improved branding.

Along with garnering new leads, an effective social media strategy often translates to rehabilitated reputations, expanded marketing strategies and deeper customer relationships.

To boost your online presence, consider focusing on these areas:

Channel strategy

Good Growth’s Nick Prescott poses this:

As social media advertising revenues continue to grow and are predicted to overtake television by 2018, we question why—despite a continuing lack of robust evidence of commercial returns—consumer brands persist in spending increasing sums of money in the channel?

For starters, the report attributes that discrepancy to a confusion about the identity and tendencies of an organization’s target audience. The general preferences of today’s social media consumer are also being neglected.

From the report:

The problem may be as basic as retailers not understanding their demographic and whether their customers are on social media at all. As the market reaches saturation, brands are turning to more elaborate forms of content. This in turn creates a vicious circle of noise on social media. Many brand [managers] seem to risk forgetting that social channels were designed to facilitate people’s conversations; not for interruptions from marketing.

Logging on to a given platform simply because your competitors have done so isn’t a viable strategy. Instead, consider each social media channel as its own entity.

Tailor your brand’s tone and content to meet the needs of each channel’s specific audience. Keep in mind that certain channels won’t be appropriate for every brand—nor every consumer.

Reputation management

As a marketing tool, social media’s effectiveness comes largely from its brisk pace.

“There is a benefit from using social media to support brand reputation,” the report states. “[Though] not yet quantifiable, [it can] clearly resolve complaints and brand criticisms swiftly and publicly and reduce the financial downsides associated with a poor reputation.”

If you seek to rebuild—or rebrand—social media can quickly help. The report points out that if addressed swiftly, a complaint can have a positive effect on your brand’s image.

Emphasizing customer satisfaction will work, though, only if your social media managers are equipped for and have adjusted to social media’s fast-paced environment.

From Good Growth:

Two of the reports [we] analyzed indicate that an increasing number of companies are neglecting their social media brand management by leaving customers waiting more than 72 hours for responses. This shift could indicate that companies are being overwhelmed by customers on social media or that they are simply not seeing any commercial benefit from managing their brand on social media.

Customer interaction

As consumers spend more and more time online, brand managers must adjust. The report notes that the current opinion of “customer engagement” on social media doesn’t favor brand managers.

Here’s more on ineffective engagement methods:

Companies are leading to frequent interruptions of social [media] conversations by brands without thinking about when and where. That invasion is something that social [media] networks were not designed for and as a consequence, serves to irritate users.

To improve your efforts, acknowledge that just like clients, consumers can be moody.

From the report:

Customers behave paradoxically: Many like to associate themselves with brands, but most resent businesses pushing their way into their social space. [Though] keeping customers engaged is a challenge… Good quality content is still key in brand promotion and engaging customers. This is something that is being neglected in favor of video.

Bye-bye, Twitter; hello, LinkedIn

From the report, here’s an emerging trend:

A greater number of brands are now moving away from channels where they feel there isn’t an obvious return [with consumers]. Twitter’s reducing advertising revenue suggests that more companies are adopting clearer strategies.

As Twitter struggles to increase its user base, brand managers are dismayed by the platform’s inability to draw new leads.

If you do choose to log off Twitter, the report makes a strong case for LinkedIn:

Take a closer look at LinkedIn to see whether there is a role it can play in lead generation. The evidence emerging shows that businesses are seeing increases in leads from the channel.

How will you choose to invest in social media, Ragan readers?

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