Your (Social Media) Party

Author: Hamish Anderson

I have had numerous conversations with clients in recent months about social media, with specific focus on explaining to them what social media is and how they can better use it. Too many clients see social media engagement as “being on twitter and Facebook”. They are truly missing the opportunity and the point. Startlingly, I have had to point out to too many, that the comments section on their website for example is a social media platform too. As such, I’ve started using a crude metaphor to help explain things to them.

The Social Media/Party metaphor

Social media is not a broadcast medium. It is an avenue for conversation and a successful social media policy should be built on the principles of hosting a successful party. At first you may think I am slightly daft for proposing this, however, let me explain.

If you host a party and want it to be a success and want people to talk about how good it was for years to come (and let’s face it, everyone secretly wants this) then it is all about setting the right mood. Generally, success depends on:

  • Providing your guests with an environment they feel comfortable in (location, music, alcohol, refreshments);
  • Allowing them to mingle, move around and to chat as they want
  • As the host, making sure you move around the party, talk to everyone, listen to what they have to say, comment, and be yourself.
    • Sure, depending on the type of party (a birthday or something) you may want to give a speech which everyone listens to, but as a general rule, everyone is pretty free to do as they want and to talk as they wish without “having” to do anything.
    • Being yourself (relaxed, confident, fun) is essential, people want to know you enjoy them being there without being uptight about everything going on.

The same is true of a successful social media policy. If you want your social media efforts to be successful, and prompt people to talk positively about your brand, then you need to draw synergies with the above. To have a successful social media strategy:

  • Interact with your audience in an environment they are comfortable with
    • The right platform is key as there no use trying to connect with your audience on a platform which is not relevant to them
    • A key is to watch them and learn before trying to ‘host them’
    • Don’t try to change the way they use the platform, or at least don’t force them to do it.
    • Engage the audience, listen to what they say, respond accordingly; throw in the occasional information about things they may be interested in. Don’t overpower the conversation
      • There is nothing worse than being at a party where someone controls the conversation & brings the conversation back to themselves, or where they are forced to do things they don’t want to.
      • Similarly, a host may broadcast occasionally (eg the birthday speech) but they will not do it all night. If people want a broadcast medium they will sign up for it, such as a newsletter (or in terms of my analogy, will go to a conference where they know they are there to listen).

Hosting your own

OK, so you (or your client) now want to host their own party, and now you want to know what the appropriate platforms are to host it? Not so fast! Back it up.

You wouldn’t host a party without a good premise for doing so would you? People want to know why they are coming there over making the choice to go elsewhere and want to know it is worthwhile. So, do you have something which will entice them? Basically, do you have the content to entice; do you have a content strategy? If not, take the time to work out what you have to say to people, do you have answers for their questions, do you have confidence in your ability to interact with people and enrich them through your interaction?

If you can answer yes, then excellent, now you may want to consider where you will host your party(ies). Firstly, take a look at your content/premise for interaction and work out the best way to communicate this in an engaging way. Do you want to learn from people, do you want to work to increase understanding of your brand and so forth? Remember to consider that social media doesn’t have to be one of the broad spectrum platforms, nor a broadcast medium. Something as simple as a comments section on your website blog, or a forum on your website may be a good way to start getting to know your guests and begin your interaction. Remember however, you need to engage with them, thank people for their comments, respond to positive and negative feedback alike, learn from this feedback and grow from it.

With this knowledge, you should then look at what other environments resonate with your target audience. Find where there is overlap of where your audience is and the right platforms for you and you will have determined where you will host this ‘get together’.

Final thoughts

  • Do not become pre-occupied with one group of people at the expense of everyone else
    • Sure you may be engaging and lovely to this one group, but if you ignore the others, then the party will quickly fizzle. Social media is about growing your presence and connecting with all sorts of people/customers/prospective customers.
  • The party can run itself to an extent but if you are absent, what positive outcome have you got as a result of your initial hard work?
    • If spend all your time in away from the party (maybe you are asleep after putting the hard work into organising the party, but none into the party itself) in another room and the party rages around you, how will people remember you as part of that positive experience?  What will you get from the experience?
    • More worrisome for you will be what you do to get people back if they move on from you due to your absence and engagement?
  • It is ok to sometimes control aspects of the conversation or platform at times to protect the party
    • Same as you may want to lower the volume to stop things getting out of hand, you may need to control the conversation at times
  • This party has the potential to rage indefinitely if you do it right. Make sure you have a support crew to help you when things grow
  • Learn from what people say. In your conversations, listen to others, make notes and do everything you can to make sure they get a positive outcome from their conversation.
    • If you do this, people will talk to others about how good the party was and others will come to the party next time, your reputation will precede you, and isn’t this what you are looking to achieve?

Now enough talking from me, time for you to let me know what you think, or perhaps, for you to kick-start your own party! Oh and if you need an ‘event’ organiser, I am sure we can help!

Please also feel free to read some of the other blogs we have posted including:


Digital Marketing is not an Ad Hoc process

Author: Hamish Anderson

For many years digital marketers have worked to establish the credentials of the digital medium, arguing that the efficacy of online marketing is as good as, or better than that of offline. Slowly – due in large part to the permeation of mobile technology, as well as the growing evidence of solid ROI figures  –  digital marketing has become accepted as an integral and necessary component of marketing as a whole.

However, from our vantage point as a digital marketing firm, we see too many firms engaging in ad hoc digital marketing, believing that a foray into the digital world will reap generous rewards. We’ve had countless discussions with companies who want to develop an engaging  website, conduct social media activity, create a blog, thinking it will improve their marketing performance, yet who do it in apparent isolation to other marketing activities – be these online or offline. What these conversations seem to do, is highlight a lack of understanding as to the current marketing landscape, and perhaps more importantly, to the way consumers are digesting marketing. Furthermore, more often than not, clients seem to be focussing more on what they want to convey to the market, or on how many followers they can get, forgetting that their marketing interaction has the potential to offer them deeper insight into their market.

Furthermore, it surprises me how many marketers fail to treat online activity the same as they would offline. Too many, still see integrated campaigns as offline activity which drives people to their website, or as social media activity which boosts their ‘followers’. The question I pose to my clients is this: “what are you doing to engage them and translate this activity into continued interaction/sales?” Unfortunately, too often, I get blank stares back!

Now, those of you reading this will fall into one of two categories. The first group represents those who to date are treating digital marketing as a platform for increasing their marketing spectrum and promoting a specific marketing message without consideration of the greater picture. The second group is that group of people who agree with me, and know that digital marketing is more than ever about conversations and content and campaign integration; where digital platforms are utilised to communicate a message, derive benefit, provide insight, learn from the market and interact with them. For those in the later group, the below list will serve as little more than a reminder of things to consider for your next integrated campaign.

Misconceptions about Digital Marketing

What I have noted from my various conversations, is that there are common misconceptions about digital marketing platforms:

  • Activities such as creating an ‘engaging’ website (in isolation to other activity), or starting social media activity will somehow be a panacea which will boost marketing ROI several fold
  • Social media activity will show positive results even through intermittent updates and/or posts
  • Adding social media posts will add such a ‘bevy’ of indexable content that other SEO activity can take a back seat
  • Social Media is a platform for seeding information to your audience
  • Email campaigns don’t necessarily require integration with the company/product website
  • Click throughs from social media sites can be used as predictors for increased revenue/business
    • They are often surprised to learn that path analysis of these visitors shows the visitors abandon the site very quickly
  • That cutting SEO budgets will not affect SEO performance

Re-educating the Misguided

In the face of comments which stem from one of these misconceptions, I remind my clients that Digital marketing:

  • Is more market  responsive than traditional marketing and that getting digital marketing wrong can have greater negative effect than getting it wrong elsewhere
  • Has better ability than offline to target a specific audience
  • That digital marketing should at all times be part of the overall marketing strategy and not sit apart from it.
    • Many clients are surprised to be told that online and offline marketing needs to be consistent –
  • Allows the ability to engage in dialogue with your audience
    • The ability to listen, learn, interpret and respond to the market
  • Has the ability to report actual metrics not aggregated industry metrics
  • SEO activity is a pivotal component of marketing.
    • We use the anecdote that if you build a brand new amazing house full of the best gadgets, an amazing layout, a view to die for and enough space for a huge party, but don’t build roads or signs to allow people to get there, then the house is offering nothing to anyone.
    • Cutting SEO budget to fund other activity will most definitely affect search performance
  • Requires ongoing maintenance. Digital marketing is not a set and forget platform. Your audience will abandon you if you abandon them through lack of relevant and timely information.

At the End of the Day

Whilst companies have begun to embrace online marketing, there is still a preponderance of firms who limit their digital involvement or who undertake isolated activity in the blind belief that it will lead to a spike in sales. As digital marketers, it is our responsibility to re-educate those who see online marketing as an adjunct to mainstream marketing, rather than a pivotal component of their overall marketing plan which requires the same efforts, maintenance and attention as all other marketing activity.

2010 – What did we learn?

Author: Hamish Anderson

We are now 11 days into 2011 and well into the year. Most people I know are back at work, and the memories of the silly season are slowly being forgotten as people begin to realise the year ahead needs to be planned out and prepared for.

Having read a few blogs and articles already posted and written about 2011, it seems that the popular thing to do is focus on what to expect from 2011 (be that technological advancements, trends or similar). Having read them, I think many of them are useful and insightful – but I am postulating that in planning for 2011, we as marketers should be doing one other key thing; reflecting on key aspects of 2010, learning from these and only then making decisions for 2011.

Thus, below I have summarised some of the key events which I believe have revolutionised the marketing and communications landscape and which will have significant bearing on the year that will be 2011.

It’s all about being Social

Though 2009 saw the rise of social networking, 2010 saw continual growth in the number of users and in the diversity of use of social media. New figures compiled this week found that on average in any 2 hours of 2010 (

  • 25,000 new users joined Twitter
  • 5.4 million tweets were sent
  • 5 million new status updates were published on Facebook
  • 1.6 million Facebook applications were installed
  • 167 million videos on YouTube are viewed

These figures are just mind boggling really. And these are the figures which focus on 3 social media platforms only. With other major platforms in existence, the figures above represent only a portion of the social activity which is shaping the way people interact. Throw into the equation the fact that people are relying more and more on social media and the opinions of those they interact with prior to making any purchasing decisions, and it is evident that the marketing landscape has changed. The challenge which arises from this for businesses is: “How can they meaningfully partake in the conversation”. Answer this, and you are one step closer to planning 2011.

Search: Content Relevancy and Social Relevancy

In 2010 the emphasis shifted from pure content delivery to one of active engagement, based purely on the rise of social media. Given the above social media usage figures, its’ really no surprise that social media posts have started to have relevancy within search engine algorithms. In late December 2009, Google announced that Google search would now include social media posts and news articles, bringing the relevancy of searches to new levels. Google even launched as a dedicated portal where individuals can perform searches and see real time results only.

Further testament to the rise in popularity of social media relevancy is the fact that in 2010, figures showed that Twitter had the 2nd most number of searches performed on its site (and through affiliates) of any search engine, behind Google, and ahead of Bing! and Yahoo. Research has shown that people are using social media to conduct research prior to purchase decisions. What this has meant through 2010 and now into 2011, is that businesses must consider not only content relevancy on their site, but social relevancy of their brand as a whole and what it is that the market and the press is saying about them.

On the other hand however, although real time search results have been elevated in importance on search pages, the market has not completely discounted the value of other search results.  Furthermore, social media and social chatter has not pervaded every industry completely, meaning the opportunity for well constructed SEO campaigns is as strong as ever. Therefore it remains as important as ever that businesses construct and maintain a strong SEO campaign. This will be as important as ever moving into 2011. However, emphasis will also need to be given to social relevancy and the efforts business makes in partaking in the conversation.

Media Convergence

Whilst the concept of media convergence has been in existence for a few years, it was in 2010 that the concept became a part of life and a new and heavily contested market. 2010 will be a year remembered as the year:

  • Apple introduced the iPad
  • The dominance of the iPhone was attacked by a myriad of other producers
  • Android platform
  • Research in Motion platform
  • TV manufacturers began to integrate internet browsing ability to their screens

These three events alone revolutionised life for consumers (and promise to continue to do so) and through this, for the way marketing is conducted. In many ways, media convergence has driven and influenced much of the activity outlined in the above 2 points. That is to say, the ability for individuals to access the internet from their mobile phone, to post to Twitter or Facebook, to receive feedback and to generally stay in touch with others is unparalleled as compared any other time in our history. Thus individuals as consumers are now in a more powerful position than ever before. Content is literally at their fingertips.

Marketers have had to respond accordingly, and will continue to need to do so, on an ongoing basis. In 2010, innovative companies rose to the challenge, launching new apps, or new marketing programs, aimed at targeting the media savvy and converged media audience. Just look at The Australian newspaper which worked with Apple to launch Australia’s first iPad ready publication. Whether or not it was universally accepted and applauded, is not as important as the fact that it opened up a whole new medium and marketing channel for users.

With the rise of converged media and the growing improvements in geo-targeted advertising, it is inevitable that marketers will need to improve and refine the way they communicate with their target audience. Timely delivery of information which adds meaning to the user interaction is going to be of growing importance to the marketplace as a whole. 

Takeout: Integration is Key

So what were my takeouts from 2010 as regards marketing? In one word: Integration. Failure to integrate marketing channels, failure to integrate with your audience, and failure to integrate feedback from your audience with your ongoing marketing will cause your business to miss huge opportunities which exist within the market. Successful integration however, offers huge opportunity for savvy marketers.

Moving into 2011 it is critical that you look at the activities you undertook in 2010 and work to understand how the influences of the market and technology worked to change the marketplace as a whole. With this understanding you will be better placed to determine what marketing activities you should be considering, and better placed to predict what may come from 2011. The links below are some of the better blogs written about the predictions for 2011 and these may also help you plan ahead.

Happy 2011 everyone!

2011 Predictions

Having researched and read a nuber of different articles, the common predictions for 2011 include:

  • Integration
  • Increased use of an ever evolving Cloud environment
  • Increased online transactions
  • Increased reliance on smart phone
  • Geo-targeted advertising

And some interesting blogs for you to review if interested…

Apportioning your Marketing Budget

Author: Hamish Anderson

Since the first marketing report was written, marketers the world over have had to deliberate (often with themselves) how to best allocate their marketing budget amongst the various options available to them. Today, when there are so many different options available, and with markets converging and diverging simultaneously, what is the best way to split your budget so as to achieve the best results for every dollar you spend?

Here are a few things you may want to consider when trying to work out how to apportion that marketing budget for the year ahead.

Tip 1 – Ignore the options

I know many marketers – and truth be told I have been guilty of this in the past too – who lose weeks when writing their marketing plan. It is not that they are inefficient, but rather that they get too easily get caught up in flights of fancy, postulating on how they can use some new emergent form of marketing, or integrate a campaign across various digital channels, or reap the benefits of creating a new campaign that goes viral. However, to use an old analogy, that could perhaps be a case of putting the cart before the horse.

Whilst it may seem innately obvious, a good thing to always remember is that one of the first things you need to do when looking at your marketing year ahead is work out what your goals are, how they can be broken down into short and long term goals and if possible broken down again from here.

Tip 2 – Determine the ROI you want to Generate

Similar to the above – yet potentially more important given the need to determine how you split your budget – is determination of what constitutes financial goals and what other goals cannot necessarily be given a numerical value and therefore need different classification. An example of the latter may include something such as increasing your membership database of ‘refer a friend’ contacts.   By doing this, you are giving yourself a total aggregated goal which you have to achieve. Similarly, in knowing what your non-financial goals are, you can quantify what constitutes success for your initial outlay. Remember, investment in marketing activity – especially as concerns platforms such as social media – is no longer necessarily only quantified by a gross dollar value, but by other factors such as time invested. Thus, have you considered ROI in terms of number of new customers which result from specific activity and which thus saves further investment in other activities (I have previously written about this in my article “ROI – More Sense than Dollars”. )?

Tip 3 – Consider how your market has evolved

Most marketers have an understanding of how technology is evolving and the newer technologies which exist. However, it seems that many of these same clients have a misunderstanding of how their market are utilising technology.

Consider this: At the end of Q1, 2010, 48.1% of all phone’s sold in Australia were Smart Phones. Why is this significant? Well Smart Phone’s allow users to easily access the internet to conduct searches whilst they are out and about. Sure, this is not really a surprising fact, however, have you considered what this means for your search budget? Are you investing any of your budget into paid search? Or are you relying purely on organic? Sure organic has definitive advantages over PPC, BUT, think on this. reported that on a Smart Phone:

“A single search ad on a PC takes up about 4 percent of the screen real estate, whereas a single search ad on a smartphone takes up about 20 percent of the screen. The relatively larger size of the ads results in higher click-through rates on mobile (as much as 3 to 5 times as much)”

Sure, there are more paid ads displayed on a PC/desktop than a Smart Phone, however, the value of holding a strong PPC position is therefore even more important when considering the growing use of smartphones. Therefore, have you considered investing more in PPC than you have in previous years?

Tip 4 – Are you taking learnings from the market?

It is one thing to say you are listening to what your customers are telling you and evolving your service or product to better cater to their needs/meet requirements or so on. In fact it is very important to do this, however, what are you doing to capture a larger share of the market?

Whilst it makes fundamental sense to seek to maintain your existing brand advocates, are you listening to what the broader market want? Are you seeking to meet their needs and therefore increase your market value/share even more? Are you using social media for example to listen to the broader conversation, or are you using it only as a platform to seed brand information?

Either way, whatever you are doing, make sure that you consider what the return is, and what you can justify as a viable spend as well as what your returns are likely to be, ahead of committing funds to it.


At the end of the day, every marketing situation is unique. Even the most meticulous plans may need to be changed and maintain some fluidity throughout the year. However, planning ahead is essential if you wish to have any marketing success. My tip for ensuring things go more to plan, is to make sure that you have evaluated your requirements, determined what is a suitable ROI and how you plan to implement everything. I don’t guarantee this will lead to success, but it will put you in a better position.

Monetising Social Media

Author: Hamish Anderson

The rise and rise of social media platforms has caused much excitement amongst marketers and consumers alike. The ability to reach out and connect with like-minded individuals (as a consumer) or to better communicate and listen to your target audience has proven invaluable to a large number of people and businesses. Consumers now have the ability to share opinions and advice through micro-blogging platforms such as twitter. They can share their location with friends through apps such as Foursquare or can share pictures effortlessly through numerous portals such as Facebook, MySpace or Picasa.

Knowing this, companies have strived to engage their audience using these platforms, providing feedback, answers, conducting competitions and so forth. But where one of the bigger opportunities – in my opinion – has laid dormant is in the use of applications like Foursquare. Whilst Foursquare itself may be able to monetise it’s platform, to date, it has not been easy for companies using the platform to generate solid income from it. And therein lies the problem (for companies on Foursquare or other social platforms).  Sure, companies have used it as a tool for promotions (eg or to create ‘loyalty programs’ (, or to stay in touch and have more ‘loyalists’  but no company has been able to monetise it to the advantage of the user and the company.

Enter a relatively new player….ShopKick, which is in its beta phase in America (partnered with Best Buy, Macy’s, American Eagle, Sports Authority and major malls for now). Similar in many ways to Foursquare – in so much as it uses a check-in system – the Shopkick model seeks to:

  • Be a platform for consumers to share (check in locations)
  • Provide benefit to the customer/user through timely presentation of data
  • Give firms/marketers the opportunity to be part of the conversation with marketers.
  • Monetise social media

Shopkick’s aim

According to their own website, “shopkick is the first mobile app that gives you rewards and offers simply for walking into stores. You can collect kickbucks and bonuses at nearly all places around you”.

And looking at the demonstration it really does look simple to use and pretty cool. However, unlike Foursquare, which requires you to manually check in to receive points, with Shopkick simply switching on the app and walking into a participating store is enough to start collecting points and receiving specials available in that outlet.

So, as a business you now have the opportunity to install the hardware which will allow you to stream specials to customers and reward them, even if all they do is window shop through your store. Quite cool really. Not only can businesses like Best Buys on-sell advertising space to manufacturers (giving them a revenue stream), but they can have some assurance that those who receive the specials are actively engaged with the messages.

Furthermore, by sending out timely specials, those who have the system installed in their place of work can transmit messages aimed at increasing sales conversion, which could have huge benefits for the shifting of slow moving items, or increasing transactions at slower periods of the day.

Whereto next?

I think Shopkick represents a timely and necessary movement forwards in the monetisation of social media. Whilst there are inevitably some flaws in the model – sharing your status with others – it does seem that there are some serious opportunities as well.

Where I see opportunity for Shopkick is in learning from user behaviour. Users can scan products for further information, can use codes to redeem specials, earn points just by walking into the store etc. Surely Shopkick should gather and harness this information so that into the future they can target promotions, discern penetration figures and improve the process to the point where everyone using the application is receiving information relevant to them. And past this, the ability to perhaps share points with a contact of theirs (truly capitalising on the social media principle) would reap large rewards too. Or to allow customers to provide real time feedback via social media on products so that the store/manufacturers can have the ability to answer concerns, respond or so forth. After all what is social media, if it is not a communication enabler?

At the end of the day however, it is pleasing to see that social media is progressing and that there are some smarts being applied to it. Watch this space to see how this model will progress, or leave a comment if you have some predictions. We welcome your thoughts.

Online Brand Representation: More important than ever

Author: Hamish Anderson

To paraphrase a research article I recently read by Cone Inc; American consumers are now more cynical than ever, seeking to qualify reviews provided to them by trusted sources such as friends and family. With these results likely to be echoed around the world, the figures themselves are startling. Specifically, 81% of consumers will now go online to verify the recommendations above and beyond what is provided to them by their ‘trusted’ source. Furthermore, even after getting feedback on a product from family or friend:

  • 61% of consumers will research product/service information
  • 55% will go online to read other user reviews
  • 43% searching ratings websites for further information

So basically, greater than 1 in every 2 people seeks further feedback about a product or service. By inference therefore, consumers are increasingly questioning the advice and feedback of a trusted source. However, even more shocking than this were further results that showed that the value of the proposed transaction was not a factor, with results showing that more than 70% of consumers would do more research for even low cost items such as a movie or dinner.  This increased to 85% of consumers for moderate cost items and 82% for high cost items such as a car.

Technology Enables Cynicism
This inferred cynicism – or if you prefer, desire to know more prior to purchase – is being enabled more and more by technology. The speed at which people can now access information – blogs, reviews, etc – allows consumers to gather information from a wide variety of sources in moments. What once took hours, or even weeks to compile, now takes minutes. In June this year, Tech Crunch predicted that by 2012, mobiles will account for 20% of all search queries conducted online. With an increase in the number of smart phones, the phenomenon of increased research prior to purchase is only likely to escalate. I don’t believe we are far from a situation where a sales representative will be speaking to a consumer about a product, whilst the consumer actively searches for reviews and information about the product. And what may scare many sales consultants is that with information gained from online posts, consumers are often changing their mind about a purchase. 68% of respondents reported that negative information has caused them to change their mind about a purchase.

As a Marketer, what can we do?

So what does this mean for product managers, marketers and anyone else involved in the consumer purchase cycle? As much as companies have tried to always portray a positive brand image to their target market, it is unfortunately not possible to appeal to all of the people, all of the time. However, it is possible to work towards ensuring that you represent your brand in a way which enhances your profile, which mitigates negative perceptions and which aids customers in a search for information, thereby creating positive emotions towards your brand. I have listed below a few possible options which can be considered – either in isolation or combination – as part of your integrated marketing:

  • Establishing different online communities to cater to different segments of your target market.
    • For example, some segments may prefer to discuss the product features, whilst others will wish to discuss performance.
    • Some may be to discuss technical information and others to discuss features
  • Ensure that your social media persona is consistent with the brand delivery people are receiving. That is, don’t over promise and under deliver.
  • Ensure consistency of message online and offline.
  • Consider integrating your campaign media
    • Drive people to dedicated sites to further their research, monitor what they utilise on the site and work to enhance the site into the future to provide more to potential clients through this portal
  • Stay abreast of what people are saying about your brand online. Establish channels to address negative feedback. This should not only include responding to the author of the feedback and taking positive action, but also ensuring processes are in place so that the feedback is utilised to improve the product/service.
  • Look to make your Brand site as informative as possible, yet keep it consistent with your overall brand image.
    • Consider making it a rich source of factual information which people can utilise in the decision making process. This puts your brand in front of the consumer an extra time which will never hurt.
    • Consider brand demonstrations, or having live feeds from what people have said in social media on your site
    • An added bonus to this is having extra relevant content on your site will only ever be a bonus to your search engine rankings.
  • Consider having a site which is smart phone / mobile compatible if you are aware that people may wish to visit your site when out

At the end of the day, thanks to advancements in technology, the consumer is more than ever in the driving seat. As marketers, our task must evolve. Where we once tried to take the high ground, we must now immerse ourselves in what the consumer wants, and how they interact if we truly want to ensure the success of our brand. To do this we must engage them, learn from them, provide information they are searching for attempt to keep our brand promise and delivery synchronous.  Failure to do so will, could spell ruin.

Social Media – Social Tool or Sales Tool?

Author: Hamish Anderson

There can be no argument, Social Media is here to stay. Growth of medium’s such as Facebook and Twitter can only really be classified as exponential, both in terms of number of users, and more importantly in terms of user interaction and time spent utilising them. But for business, the question commonly asked is; can a social media presence or having your name mentioned in social media translate to increased dollar return, or an increase in perceived brand relevance?

Expectations of Social Media
Let’s assume that you are set up for ‘social’. Can it actually generate positive return for your investment of time and money?

In a previous blog article (Social Influence and your Customer) I asserted that not interacting with your customers via social media is the modern day equivalent of turning your back on a massive opportunity to engage your audience and create additional media/sales touch points. Thus, by inference, social media activity should be able to – assuming your campaign is run efficiently and maintains relevancy – create a positive ROI for you.

But what is ROI exactly? For each company it will be slightly different, although return could be widely classified into two categories – Time and Money.

Firstly, Time: As much as time is money, time is in many ways more valuable as it is finite, therefore, the opportunity cost of time spent should always be considered. That is, if you were not spending ‘x’ hours a week on social media, what could you spend it on in order to benefit your business? This should then be weighed up against how many positive brand impressions you created, how much conscious thought you created in your market and how many negative perceptions you addressed to help assert a positive one.

With regards creation of positive dollar returns, the equation is potentially simpler and simultaneously more complex. The simplicity of it is calculated by determining what your return is for every dollar spent on social media. However, the complexity comes down to whether or not there is a lag between positive brand association and transaction with the brand which can potentially skew your calculations. Only time will tell, but as your campaign evolves, (and if you have a good tracking system in place) you will get a pretty good idea of the purchase cycle of social media and thus be able to track return from your investment.

But does Social Media Work?
Quite simply the answer is yes it does. There are a number of examples where in recent times it has created a stream of brand activity and or increased dollar returns for the company. Here are just a few:

  • Toy Story 3 – Pixar and Disney released a series of Apps, viral video’s and a Facebook page which all generated large amounts of traffic and consumer led activity. (Source: Mashable)
  • Gap Clothing – Testament to the dollar value successful social media can generate, Gap (USA) launched a series of social channels including Foursquare and Groupon which led to traffic of over 400,000 people and generated over $11 million in sales in the first day alone. Many of these would be translated into future customers. (Source: Mashable)
  • Old Spice – Australia has not necessarily been a target market of Old Spice in the latest barrage of advertising. However, as with all social media, the reach is often beyond what was dreamed of. Australia caught the Old Spice bug, and from social media alone, sales in Australia increased in different stores between 150% and 420% (Source: Sydney Morning Herald). Think about how that translates world wide…

Sales Tool or Social Tool
At the end of the day, Social Media channels represent an opportunity to be either a sales tool or a social tool. In more general marketing terms associated with offline advertising, it can be either a tool to drive sales, or a tool to generate awareness. 

You can use it to communicate with your customers, answer and address feedback and notify them of product developments, or use it to generate a sales touch point and increase your ROI. But remember, as with all media activity, success will only be achieved if you plan for it correctly.

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