For most marketers, social media is an equally tantalizing and frustrating opportunity. The average consumer spends more time during the day on the major social media channels (almost two hours) than eating, drinking, grooming, socializing or doing laundry. This is why marketers are steeped in the medium, using platforms like Facebook to launch new products, conduct ad campaigns and engage with consumers in new and exciting ways (see Starbucks' Unicorn or Dragon Frappuccino).
The frustration, however, is understandable: Marketers are putting more resources into social media channels where the mechanics for ROI measurement are still being refined. Consider: The percentage of marketers who say they can quantify the business impact of social media has gone down, from an already low 14.5% in 2014 to 11.5% in 2016, according to The CMO Survey. Yet investments and expectations for ROI are going in the opposite direction. Total spending on social media is expected to surpass $35 billion this year, per eMarketer, with Facebook generating $16.3 billion in U.S. display advertising alone. By 2020, social media will account for more than one-fifth of total marketing budgets.
Driving social conversions—a share, a reaction, an offline conversation or, better still, a purchase—is a necessity for today's CMO, who must consistently demonstrate business results across all channels. There are ways to mobilize the organization around a more cohesive strategy that will ultimately yield better results. It starts with building a social conversion team.
The reality is that most companies have yet to integrate social thinking across the organization. With a social conversion team, marketers would draw on expertise from a combined group of data analysts, media planners and social experts, including social strategists, to support the brand's efforts from the inception of campaign to optimization and conclusion. A social conversion team has the benefit of being proactive through careful planning yet can, at a moment's notice, deploy assets to build on positive consumer sentiment or pivot from a negative reaction. Paid social efforts can be adjusted based on performance, hypertargeted to prove product viability on store shelves and used to motivate high-value behavior to indicate conversion intent.
The social conversion team should be charged with setting specific campaign goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), aligning them to precise target audience segments, and ensuring that all team members are lending their expertise to refining the measurement. For example, a piece of content used to educate a consumer on additional product use can be amplified through social media for broader reach; consumer comments can be applied to analyze sentiment and brand affinity; and DMA data from social channels can be used to cross-reference offline purchase behavior. Those comments can then be used to inform creative and voice for future campaigns. Here, a team comprised of planners, social creatives, paid media analysts and a community manager maximizes the impact at every step—and into the future.
The industry continues to take steps toward best practices on measurement, including Facebook's ongoing enhancements of its measurement dashboard and additional toolsets that allow some advertisers to measure conversion or brand lift in a given campaign–enabling them to better understand the value of the campaign, the effectiveness of their targeting and the levels of consumer engagement with a given creative message. Marketers also need to consider how their social campaigns are influencing customer behavior across the purchase journey (from online to off-line), leveraging testing and optimization scenarios alongside launch materials to facilitate pivots and enhancements immediately when needed.
As marketers define and build a social conversion team, they would be smart to coalesce the effort around three top priorities in order to make the most of their social marketing initiatives and drive tangible outcomes:
Marketers know they must lean in on this opportunity for their brands to be part of the conversation—and part of the next purchase. The sophistication of advertising in the channel continues to accelerate, as does the availability of measurement and attribution solutions to help refine and enhance our understanding of campaign impact. Brands, media partners and agencies: Let's do this.
Barbara leads the Catapult social media execution team, working on projects bringing the brand to the consumer and the consumer to the brand. Her career began in experiential marketing with Miller Brewing Co. and Philip Morris. In 2013, she reignited Epsilon's social media team and most recently took a new role within the organization as the social practice lead at Catapult—bringing best practices, an 11-year career in social media and a very healthy passion for all things social to this new chapter of her career.