Monday, June 6, 2011

Social Media Value

On Wednesday, May 18th, Dr. Lauren Labrecque spoke to a group at NIU’s day-long Interactive Marketing conference about the value of social media. Social Media continues to be a “hot topic” in interactive marketing and it doesn’t look like this will change anytime soon.

Lauren writes "As echoed in the CADMEF’s IMC Roundtable discussions, oftentimes marketers want to jump straight into tactics instead of focusing on developing strategy. This is especially true for social media, as companies act quickly to keep up with its rapid evolution. Before racing onto the next trend, marketers should sit back and ask themselves, “What am I trying to accomplish?” and “What value am I offering to my customers?” The “build it and they will come” mentality doesn’t cut it in social media. Companies need to offer something of value to consumers– create unique experiences that make them want to connect with you again, across different channels.

A strong social media campaign should consist of three steps- (1) listening, (2) planning, and (3) engaging.

Social Media Planning Stages
For the listening stage, marketers should conduct a “brand audit” in order to gain insights into consumers’ perceptions of the brand.

I highlighted a number of paid and free tools that can help marketers achieve this goal. Popular paid tools include Alterian SM2 (which I’ve used in my Internet Marketing Class), Radian6, and Meltwater Buzz. These tools offer a historical look at the brand– for example Alterian’s SM program has a historical database storing around 4 years of social media data.

Marketers can monitor peaks in brand mentions and attribute these events such as advertising, new product launches, etc. Sentiment analysis offers marketers the ability to see what words are frequently used in conjunction with the brand. I gave the example comparing the sentiment and themes around Skechers Tone-ups versus Reebok Easy Tones. When looking at the word cloud for Skechers, negative words such as “pain,” “discomfort,” and “ugly” appear, while these words are noticeably absent from Reebok’s word cloud. Reports can also provide information to help identify heavy brand influencers, along with demographic and geographic profiles.

Much of the same information can be glistened by using free tools; however, the marketer faces a challenge in bringing all of this data together since none of these free tools offer all of the features available with the paid tools. Therefore, marketers will have to conduct several analyses with different tools. Also, the majority of these tools lack the ability to view historic data.

Some free tools I discussed include:
Google Alerts
Social Mention
Twitter Advanced Search
Social Mention
Blog Pulse

Information from the listening stage can provide insights for planning and ultimately engaging with consumers.

Consumer Motivations for Using Social Media
For the planning stage, marketers should focus on understanding consumer motivations for engaging in social media. I identified the 4 C’s of consumer motivations– create, connect, control, and compete– and gave examples of successful social media campaigns that tap these motivations. Again, the key is to make a reason for people to engage with your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, or one of the many other social media channels. One classic example that speaks to all of these motivations is the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign. In this example consumers are able to create their own Doritos ad, which allows them to connect with the brand and other fans and compete for votes from other fans. The online community, not the brand, controls the selection process and the lucky winners see their ad on the Super Bowl (and may even win prize money). Other examples I discussed include the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, Mt. Dew Democracy, and the BlendTec “Will it Blend?” series.

Although I discussed each of the steps (listening, planning, and engaging) in a linear process, each stage should be revisited throughout the campaign. Don’t execute your strategy and stop listening, instead keep your eyes and ears open for more feedback to improve your relationship with your customers.

Lastly, use social media in synergy with other channels. For examples, include incentives for customers to opt-in to receiving email communications or provide coupons for discounts at your ecommerce site. Try to continue the relationship through these different channels by informing customers of new products, specials, and news."

Thanks Lauren. For more from Dr. Labrecque, follow her blog.
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