Social media was non-existent till 1996 but then in 1997 a site named SixDegrees.com started off as the first major social media site and at its apex, SixDegrees had around 100 employees, and the site had around 1,000,000 fully registered members. It ran its course in 2001 though it has been recently restarted for the previously existing members. This site exposed the world to a future revolution in social media. Visionaries took up many projects and multiple social media sites started coming up such as Friendster (2002), MySpace (2003), Facebook (2004), and Twitter (2006) and as it is said, the rest is history.
The advent of social media meant exposure of humongous proportions where world is your audience and social media sites your grand stage. With the technological developments everything went hand-in-hand for social media revolution. From a user's perspective it was blissful situation where the Facebook status updates became a moot point and Tweets became globally viral, but for brands/companies this wasn't the case. Brands were reluctant to invest in social media fearing low-to-almost-no ROI since a 'Like' or 'RT' won't pay them back! Even with this reluctance many brands came to forefront and took little steps into world of SMM with a vision to convert existing fans / followers to future paying customers.
According to Market Sherpa’s report, 65% of the CMO still look for a way to achieve sales through SMM and 63% still look to increase ROI from investments done in social media. So now the questions arise: Are social media sites restricted to ‘Like’, 'Follow' and 'Share'? Are there metrics to show real value in SMM? Is there really a way to up those ROI? And answer to all of these is 'Yes'.
- It is definitely restricted to a 'Like', 'Follow' and 'Share' for the users but not for Marketers
- There are multiple inter-related and even independent metrics which can convince businesses about the value of SMM
- Lastly there are methods and tools available for increasing ROI post investment in SMM
To realize the above statements as facts we need few analytical perspectives:
Defining Performance Parameters (KPI):
Every client we handle in SMM has different goals and objectives to achieve so the first step is to know the key performance indicators (KPI) which are vital to strategic planning and reporting on investments in social media. Whether we will measure the performance by purchases, email opt-ins, shares, downloads, or time spent on the website, Google Analytics reports will be reflected as achievements or success of a campaign.
Google Analytics provides many metrics which can relate to the specific business model and goals of the brand. It can help in determining exactly what has worked and not worked for a particular brand and its related goals. It helps in showing the value of social media or contribution of social media to the conversions taking place for the client.
What has worked for one may not work for the other. But the analysis of both is crucial, so as to learn from reports about the effective and ineffective methods for social media marketing. Google Analytics provides many insights such as the traffic flow to analyze the path the visitors take, social sources that deliver high quality visitors and social media contribution to goals.
Having these insights helps in knowing the perfect platforms for investment in Social Media suited to particular clients and hence influencing financial decisions with parameters and facts instead of guesswork.
Working with Limitations:
Success for a client depends upon the KPI as mentioned earlier. But for any campaign to be successful one needs to know the limitations of the brand. For a brand like Sony driving sales will not be priority, instead consumer engagement will be of utmost importance. But for an e-commerce site with no physical outlets, sales and conversions are highest priority. This makes SMM experts to jot down do's and don'ts for a brand. Hence restrictions come into place because bandwidth of SMM experts should be aligned with the goals of the brand.
Content generation will vary, campaigns depending upon the audience the brand entertains will vary and lastly the demographics for particular brands have a huge role in claiming success or failure on social media. Thus brand specific analysis and utilizing the restrictions to brand's advantage is the way forward.
Analyzing and optimizing Social World:
Everything a brand serves on social media is open to the world's appraisal and the world's criticism so which one to avoid and which one to embrace? Embrace both. That's how social media works because you are in direct contact with the people you provide services to. Hence their grievances and satisfaction are both to be heard on Social Media. Apart from the direct reviews from users which are right there in front of your eyes Google Analytics Reports provide metrics such as page views, duration of visit, pages per visit, etc. by the users. This helps in knowing the content that people are excited about and the page content they like. It also makes analyst aware of the aspects that are driving people towards conversions. Optimizing these insights to SMM's advantage surely increase ROI.
Analytically many things can be measured in SMM and monetary aspects can also be justified with the advanced metrics. But what makes SMM so special is the sheer brilliance of direct interaction between a loyalist and his or her favourite brand!