Social Media Marketing for Measurable Business Results

Social media marketing has been a catchphrase for a few years now, and everyone knows that they’re “supposed” to use social media to boost business. But how do actual businesses get a return on investment from using social media platforms like today’s two biggest ones, Facebook and Twitter?

Business Week magazine did a survey of 100 mid-sized businesses and basically asked them what they were doing social media-wise, and how it was working out for them. The results were dispiriting: only 8% of the businesses surveyed said that the effort they’d put into social media marketing actually drove business results. What did this 8% do that the other 92% didn’t? Let’s check it out.

First of all, lots of mid-sized companies are using social media. Business Week’s survey showed that 74% of them use Twitter, 71% use Facebook, 53% use YouTube, and 36% use blogging. But the survey suggests that there are three elements that appear to be common to those businesses that have reported actual success in their social marketing.

First of all, these are companies that have developed media listening skills. Listening is, of course, a very important part of social dynamics, yet lots of businesses don’t listen to what their customers are saying. The ones who succeed with it are those that monitor blogs, Twitter, and various online communities to pick up on consumer sentiment, and what’s more, they consider what consumers are saying and actually respond to it. Yet only about a third of social marketers even bother to monitor these media! smm panel

Second, they use a multi-step approach to figuring out exactly what consumers are saying and what their responses can accomplish. For example, media might displace some traditional consumer research. Or it might be useful in pre-emptying the spread of negative information. The companies that successfully navigate this milieu are the ones that at least attempt to measure the return on value of the components of their participation in media exposure. Rather than, for example, just counting how many Facebook friends they have, they track click-throughs from Facebook users in the company’s target demographic.

Third, they rightly see social media as a way to improve their brand’s competitive position by creating a whole new type of value for customers. For example, Best Buy decided to put retail staff who were competent in answering consumer electronics questions into a Twitter-based help force. This alone shifted customer expectations about the experience of buying electronics, changing the game for competitors as well.

A social media marketing strategy involves far more than just setting up accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Companies have to learn to listen to what customers are saying, and not just use these platforms for pushing their products. And they need to develop ways of measuring whether they’re getting a return on their investment, and come up with novel ways to use it to give customers something competitors aren’t giving. If you don’t know where to begin with all this, then you should consider working with professional social media marketing services, who know the ins and outs of using these exciting new platforms to get positive, real business results.

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