3 Social Media Musts to Grow Your Community

With 2011 holiday sales surpassing expectations, marketers entered 2012 with new customers and a renewed optimism. However, given the ups and downs of the past several years, now isn’t the time to rest on your laurels. 

With 2011 holiday sales surpassing expectations, marketers entered 2012 with new customers and a renewed optimism. However, given the ups and downs of the past several years, now isn’t the time to rest on your laurels. Building community will require a renewed dedication and attention across these three areas:

1. Innovation. Success and differentiation will require proactive planning and a lot of experimentation. Marketers serious about building community must be creative and unafraid of failure. Create an innovation budget is my No. 1 must. Dedicate a portion of your 2012 budget to test new ideas to support new social media programs, networks and technologies.

You’ll no doubt continue to see the emergence of new community players this year (e.g., the increasing influence of Google+ brand pages), as well as the continued expansion and maturity of others, making them viable community platforms. Set aside a portion of your budget to support the building of such platforms as well as the testing of new programs, including but not limited to location-based services, augmented reality efforts, retargeting programs and more.

2. Data analysis and measurement. Data is the holy grail. If you haven’t already integrated your social media communities into your CRM database, 2012 is the year to do so. Looking at behavior such as engagement across multiple channels (e.g., web, email and social) will be essential in indentifying key influencers and brand advocates. Build a social media measurement framework to better track and analyze the impact of your social media efforts on individual programs as well as your brand overall. Measurement frameworks should include the following:

  • awareness: reach and impressions;
  • interest: views;
  • excitement: “Likes,” comments, +1s, @mentions;
  • advocacy: shares, retweets, testimonials, endorsements;
  • conversion: attributable sales; and
  • economic value: upsell success, multiple product ownership, increase in satisfaction/likelihood to recommend, loyalty, multichannel engagement, lifetime value.

3. Splinternet expertise. With more than 37 million iPhones sold over the holidays, smartphones as well as apps have become an increasingly important part of all of our lives. The proliferation of smartphones, new technologies, and proprietary platforms and networks has given rise to what Forrester Research calls “the Splinternet.”

As a result, growing and increasing participation across your social communities via mobile platforms will need to be a key focus in 2012. Marketers and their agencies will increasingly need to hone their communication skills in order to reach and engage consumers. Creating positive user experiences will be paramount and content optimization expertise will become as important as program ideas in 2012 as consumers engage with your brand across platforms.

The key to building community in 2012 will require a bit of left and right brain thinking: A thorough analysis of who your customers are and what they want, mixed with some creative thinking and flawless execution across multiple proprietary plaforms.

Craig Greenfield’s Redefining Performance Marketing: Holding Performance Marketing Campaigns Accountable

Facebook recently passed Google to become the most visited website in the U.S., according to Hitwise. This achievement from the social networking giant reminds marketers not only of the growing importance of social media, and Facebook in particular, but of choosing the right approach and success measurement plan.

Facebook recently passed Google as the most visited website in the U.S., according to Hitwise. This achievement from the social networking giant reminds marketers not only of the growing importance of social media, and Facebook in particular, but of choosing the right approach and success measurement plan.

Performance media offers marketers several solid choices to connect with target audiences, but marketers should clearly define campaign goals up front to ensure they choose the right campaign tactics and success measurement scheme. With concrete goals in place, marketers can consider incorporating fan pages, ads and applications into their campaigns and create plans to observe and measure engagement, conversions, connections and opinions (ECCO) to quantify success.

Facebook pages
Facebook pages offer free, simple ways to update people about promotions, events, new products and more. Marketers should select a memorable Facebook vanity URL for their pages, and promote them on their brands’ native sites, blogs and other promotional materials since consumers need to opt in or click the “Like” button on the page to engage with the brand.

Search engines rank social site pages high for branded searches, and marketers can use them to own more of the search engine results page since search engines only display two results from marketers’ native sites.

Applications
Applications foster viral sharing, encourage brand interaction and generate leads through “tell your friends” and “add to profile” buttons. Papa John’s, for example, uses sweepstakes apps to capture names and email addresses while staying top of mind with consumers. Tools exist to track user interaction with applications.

Social ads
Performance media ads are text- and image-based ads that appear in the right sidebars of Facebook users’ profile pages. Marketers trigger these cost-per-click or cost-per-impression ads based on user attributes like gender, geography, age and interests. These powerful microtargeting capabilities enable marketers to effectively target only the most suitable of Facebook’s more than 400 million users.

ECCO success tracking

A performance marketing campaign’s success hinges on whether, and to what extent, it achieved its goals. ECCO offers a concrete approach to measuring and quantifying success. It can be adapted to a specific campaign’s goals and tactics to establish clearly defined success metrics and milestones, but the approach always incorporates some combination of engagement, conversion, connection and opinion measurement. These terms are explained in more detail in the following list:

  • Engagement. What immediate reaction or interaction was created? Often measures clickthroughs, rollovers, interaction rates, video streams, time spent with ads, games played, etc.
  • Conversions. Following engagement, what actions did the campaign spur? Commonly consists of sales/orders, leads/emails, downloads, sweeps entries and other post-click activity.
  • Connections. How well did the campaign reach its target? What impressions were left? Measures reach, frequency, cross-site duplication, impressions delivered, site visits and more.
  • Opinions. How was the campaign perceived? What reactions were elicited? Can include brand studies, polls/surveys, ad recall, brand awareness, purchase intent, among other things.

Marketers and their partners must assign the right values and indicators to each ECCO element, but the framework provides an adaptable approach that can support a wide range of performance media campaigns and other social media programs. Whether just getting started or devising the next in a long line of effective performance marketing campaigns, marketers can lean on ECCO to hold Facebook campaigns accountable.