Social is a difficult marketing channel. The sheer volume of content on any given day is staggering. Consequently the virtual community ecosystem is VERY, VERY noisy. It’s become harder and harder for brand voices to be heard and the reality is a very small fraction of your audience sees your brand’s social updates.
People are primarily on social to be social with PEOPLE not brands. That’s why Facebook late last year and again earlier this year dramatically shifted its algorithmic formula. Users said,
“ENOUGH! Brands are cluttering my feeds – I subscribe to interact with friends, not companies. Just because I signed up for a coupon, took a poll or liked something a brand posted doesn’t mean I want to see them in my feed every single day!”
And POOF you moved to the bottom of news feeds. The number of posts made in a day doesn’t matter – you’re at the bottom, baby (assuming you show up at all anymore).
Between social giants pulling brand’s free advertising ride and users fed up with brand nuisance, social is at a critical juncture. But that doesn’t mean brands should abandon social altogether. Most however do need to rethink their approach and consider the medium’s very real limitations.
Social media is great for building relationships with customers and learning what people are saying about your brand. One thing social is not good for though is lead generation. Social channels may very well be a pit stop along the way to lead generation but in and of itself social doesn’t fill the bill.
Your website however does. With 9 out of 10 buyers visiting your website before ever giving you their business, social channels are one more vehicle that further an audience to where true lead generation occurs –
So how do you know if social efforts actually play a role in the lead generation circle of life? There’s only one way – look at the analytics. And I’m not talking about likes, follows, views, favorites, comments, etc. Those are completely useless and if you haven’t done so already eliminate them entirely from your measure of social success. Warm and fuzzy metrics never have been and never will be a true barometer of healthy digital marketing.
No I’m talking about relevant analytic reporting. Raw data on traffic generated from social channel referrals to your website validates whether social content’s performing, how well it performs or if it doesn’t perform at all. Most social strategies never have but all should require monthly performance evaluation.
If your company has yet to invest in marketing automation reporting tools, you can simply review the free monthly Google Analytic reports. GA and other free software won’t provide in-depth data but (among other things) will show which social channels refer to your site.
Social performance is largely judged on whether content effectively directs people to the website for further engagement. If reports show disappointing referrals there could be many variables at play.
First Re-evaluate your buyer personas and confirm your audience spends time on the company’s devoted channels.
Haven’t created buyer personas? Do it NOW. Download this free d.Mark resource Creating Buyer Personas and get it done before making another social post!
Second Once the correct channels are confirmed check the messaging.
• Will the language used resonate with your buyer persona?
• Does the content speak to what your audience cares most about as it relates to your product or service?
• Is content useful or just another “look at me – do business with us – our company’s GREAT!” (no one cares)
Third Take a look at the call to action
The messaging could be spot on but if you haven’t motivated the reader to further engage that may reflect a weak call to action. Always think in terms of
WIIFM – What’s in it for me?
FOMA – Fear of missing out
Once there’s positive social referral performance the analysis doesn’t stop there. Referrals are just step one in scrutinizing how social channels perform. Website engagement that follows social referrals is where true digital marketing performance management really begins.
Last week’s post Digital Performance Ignorance Is Not Bliss goes into detail on basic metrics to focus on and the insight each metric provides, but the most important as it relates to Social is Bounce.
If your call to action moves a visitor to the website but they immediately leave (i.e. Bounce) that usually indicates what was sought couldn’t be found. It either wasn’t there or was too difficult to find. Google’s watching and could consider that scenario “Click Bating”. The call to action enticed a click but for whatever reason content didn’t meet expectations so the visitor promptly left. Google doesn’t care the reason, all they care about is UX (user experience). Search engines don’t reward high rankings to sites with high abandon history even if your social channel was the referer.
Posting relevant, useful social content that directs visitors to your website for deeper content engagement is how lead generation occurs and how social realizes return on investment. In the end – if there’s no ROI there’s no point in doing it.
Analyzing how all digital properties perform is just good business. There may be a learning curve involved for marketers but a business analyst degree isn’t required. Just patience, a commitment to continued learning, taking pride in your craft and dedication to delivering results.
Whether it’s off or online media a marketer’s universal task is to create a recognized brand and increase company revenue. Brand recognition alone is meaningless. Lead generation increases company revenue. Leads quite simply lead to revenue. In the digital ecosystem leads are derived from websites with social channels periodically playing a role in getting visitors to the destination.
Think of social properties not as the destination but a portal to it – ‘IT’ being your website. Social media will never be a revenue generating proposition but when digital performance management is done correctly social can prove more than a portal but also the means.
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