Social Media Marketing: Promises, Promises
More than a decade into the come-of-age story of social media marketing, we’re starting to see signs of maturity. Yet, social still isn’t delivering on its biggest promises.
According to a survey taken in 2016, only 15% of CMOs report a positive and measurable impact of social. The discontent reaches deeper with social media surveys showing a steady increase in the amount of time employees spend managing social media.
This might come down to using tools effectively says Janice Kim, Customer Marketing and Social Media at Lithium Technologies. Lithium develops and sells software that helps brands connect with customers on social. “When tools fail, social marketers feel like they’re just spinning their wheels,” Kim told a gathering of marketers at the Social Media Strategies Summit in San Francisco on September 28, 2016.
Too often, social media managers are using strategies and tools that don’t capture the big picture and make the process less efficient. Lithium discovered that tools can deliver a seamless strategy, eliminate the need to post natively and give marketers predictive modeling that can make recommendations.
“You have to go beyond the likes and shares and focus more on clicks and conversions,” said Kim. “Then you feed that data back into the recommendations engine, and that makes you stronger and smarter with your process, and it also allows you to prove the value back to your CMO. When it’s done well, brands get this better engagement with their customers leading to greater loyalty and more purchases.”
Time Efficiency vs Time Sucks
Social media managers spend an average of three hours a day just managing production logistics. Kim knows this pain personally. She was spending this kind of time on tactics instead of on strategy. And it didn’t necessarily make her more successful.
Kim described her arduous process of toggling between six different tools, until she switched to a better social media management technology that eliminated the need for multiple tools.
Social relationship tools help manage profiles more efficiently by remembering age groups and geographies. This releases marketing managers from needing to set parameters for every new post.
Platforms that provide mobile interface also allow social media managers to solve crises or leverage opportunities remotely. The tagging features make it easier to track engagement.
Providing the customer with a seamless digital experience is a nuanced process. And it is difficult because organizations are optimized around functional silos (i.e. sales, marketing, customer care). Getting these groups to align with a single customer-facing perspective is a challenge. To implement an integration of customer-facing systems with processes and communications is like turning a ship. A quick pivot with major brands is hard to come by.
“If marketing and care teams are using different social technologies, then you have two different views of the customer. Your customers witness your silos when you collide,” Kim said.
Her advice? Choose a tool that can do the job of both publishing to the market as well as respond to it.
A major brand like Post Office UK has many stakeholders and a sizable care team. In the interest of enhancing a seamless customer experience, the brand aligns its customer care teams with marketing to create one digital conversation.
For instance, when the marketing team posted on Facebook that a new royal stamp had launched, a customer commented, asking where to find the stamp. The customer care team responded with the link to purchase it online. These were two different teams, marketing and customer support on the same platform, but they appeared seamless.
Look for tools that offer proactive advice on when to post and what type of content to post. Plenty of tools offer analysis of past events, but predictive modeling can recommend exact topic options and scheduling options based on hitting peak engagement with your customers.
“Our Lithium Reach social media marketing tool enables predictive modeling.” said Kim. “Klout Data lets us know when the target audience is most available and the system publishes based on that.”
“We saw a 25% increase on organic posts when we were using this 'best time to post' functionality,” said Kim. Lithium’s competitive advantage with the Klout consumer network of 700M users allows the platform to offer content suggestions and scheduling recommendations.
In turn, feeding data back into the recommendation engine makes the process stronger and smarter, as its accuracy continually increases over time.
Online community drives even more engagement through user generated content (UGC). Studies show that UGC has more cachet with consumers.
Nielsen found that “84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other type of advertising.”
“We know that customers are more likely to consume content created by their peers,” Kim said.
UGC is also valued more highly by search engines, and more frequently indexed. This content should also be made available to customer care departments to enhance that seamless digital experience mentioned above.
Take the example of Sony Europe, which aspired to provide a platform where its fan base of photo enthusiasts could share their content in galleries to participate in monthly photo competitions. Sony Europe migrated a 12-year-old forum to a new platform with the goal to make a space where people would converse on topics beyond technical problems. The business case for this migration was that it would translate into increased revenue, loyalty, and support savings for the business.
Sony Europe wanted customers to engage with the rest of the community through their passions by reviewing user-generated content, company-generated blogs as well as tutorials and workshops to help them get more out of their products and our services. The community provided workshops, tutorials and master classes moderated by Sony World Photography Awards winners. As a result, Sony Europe increased top-line sales through increasing their user generated content from 80% to 99%.
Lithium is poised to deliver on the latent promises of social media as the medium matures. We have witnessed the inevitable awkward growing pains. Now we are ready for increasing grace and agility.
This article was written by San Francisco writer Jennie Z. Rose, reporting on the Social Media Strategies Summit.
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