*This content was previously published on Social Conversations in June 2010. Social conversations was a product of Serengeti Communications which closed in 2012
Today’s post wraps up our series on the Four Pillars of Social Media here on Social Conversations. In this series we covered how to research, plan a strategy, engage your audience and use measuring techniques in your social media marketing efforts for your company. Whether it’s a small business, a B2C or a B2B business, these fundamental concepts are what will support your social media marketing strategy, make it strong and successful.
I wanted to round out the series with a piece that reminds marketers, directors, senior management and the c-suite that social media marketing is unlike any other online marketing strategy you may implement. Since the concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) have become such a prominent force in the online marketing world because they can be measured through analytics by seeing the Click to Conversion ratios, companies have become very focused on this to decide whether a program is successful or it failed.
Unfortunately these types of measures don’t work the same way for your efforts in Social Media Marketing. It’s a lot more complex because engagement in social media communities very rarely leads to a person clicking on your link and then purchasing your product or service. You also have to factor into the whole scheme of measuring your actions online whether its SEO, PPC or media buying, was that “Click” affected by something you did in Social Media.
Take for example engagement in forums. Say you have a team from your engineering department out in a Ruby on Rails forum discussing the latest things they’ve implemented using RoR. Someone who’s been lurking and watching your team share it’s knowledge posts a reply in the thread saying “hey thanks, you guys really seem to know your stuff, this helped me a lot”. The next thing that person does is looks at one of your team’s bios. They then look at their profile on LinkedIn, then look at your company’s profile on LinkedIn. From their they click over to your blog and read a few of your thought leadership posts. After they read those posts, they forward one on to their managing direct with a note that says “these guys seem to really know their stuff, can we utilize them to help us XYZ project?”.
The managing director was looking at other companies to help and had never heard of your company until his engineer suggested your blog post. Now he’s looking at your company’s profile on LinkedIn, not only that he’s checking out who recommended you and those companies to see if they are like his company. He then clicks on a link to your latest presentation on Slideshare, he passes that on to the CTO, saying “this company is really impressive, I think we should use them with XYZ project”.
Now the CTO is checking your company out, he’s reading your blog too, but he’s checking out the comments from other companies on your blog and your interaction. He clicks on a link to your tweet stream and sees you’re interacting and sharing your knowledge with the community about relevant topics, not what you sang in the shower. Now, he too is impressed, he emals back to the managing director “please contact them and set up a meeting, you’re right they really seem to understand our industry very well”.
The managing director now types into Google your company name, first he clicks on a PPC ad you have (by mistake), then backs up and clicks on the first result, which leads him to your homepage. He finds the link to fill out the contact form, and now you have a lead.
So who gets the credit? If you were just looking at analytics, some may say PPC, some may say SEO – never did any of the people click into your site first. Their first encounter was in a forum about Ruby on Rails, their next was LinkedIn, then your blog, then SlideShare, then Twitter. The last steps were search and then the click into your site to fill out the contact form.
Sometimes it is pretty easy, you can see a click to a product from a link on Facebook, Twitter or a blog post and can see the results. However, more often than not, the above scenario that I just outlined for you happens hundreds, if not thousands of times a day online. Marketers just aren’t aware of all the steps customers are taking to get to the “conversion”. So how are you measuring that? Are you accounting for this type of scenario in your ROI or bottom line of your entire marketing plan?
Just because social media marketing doesn’t lead to that instant “Click Conversion” doesn’t mean it isn’t working, it means you have to work a little harder to measure its success.