How Social Media Helps Your Marketing Efforts

social mediaTo truly understand social media analytics, you really need a little background on how social media functions in a marketing context. Some of you are likely very familiar with this and can just skip to the next section. For the rest of you, here’s a little primer on how social media marketing works.

Social media

Social media includes blogs, social networks (ie. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest), bookmarking sites (ie. Stumbleupon), file sharing sites (ie. Instagram), review sites (ie. Yelp, Eopinions), curation sites (ie. Paper.li), location-based applications (ie. Google Local). While these platforms offer vast distinctions and formats, similarities in the way they function as a marketing tool allow us to discuss them as a group.

With almost all of these sites, brands do the following:

  • create a presence based on specific terms of service established by the platform
  • build a community around their presence
  • share content and/ or encourage users to share content about their brand
  • motivate users to like, share, and comment on their content
  • monitor results

Social media outcomes

Marketing using social media, if done correctly, creates the following outcomes:

1. Influence purchase behavior

  1. Awareness – successful brands find more consumers are aware of their brand, it’s features/benefits, and advantage. This occurs through message amplification when users spread brand messages through engagement behaviors, such as liking, commenting, and sharing.
  2. Decomodification – this is a really fancy, academic term that means consumers see brand messages as coming from friends they trust rather than businesses, who they’ve learned aren’t objective when it comes to evaluating their brands. This means, even if the original message came from the brand, the fact that it showed up as a post from a network user it is miraculously transformed into an endorsement from that user.
  3. Peer influence – messages coming through a user’s network connections not only appear to endorse the brand, they invoke subtle pressure to buy the brand. Influence comes from desires to be liked and to be like the users sharing the message, to be part of the “in” group, and normative influences that say that owning this brand is right and good. Other forms of influence might show up depending on characteristics of the sharer. For instance, if your boss shares a brand message it might have more influence or negative influence if you really think your boss is a jerk.
  4. Influence on the poster’s behavior people like to appear consistent – it fits with our notions of sanity. If you share a brand’s message, you’re basically saying you like the brand. You then feel a sense of pressure to buy the brand – especially if it’s something others will see you using. Otherwise, you feel like a hypocrite and fear to face criticism from your friends who might discover your duplicity.
  5. Improved sentiment – consumers develop positive feelings about the brand as they learn more about the brand’s personality, the brand’s commitment to quality, and ways the brand helps consumers and the community.
  6. Loyalty – consumers identify with the brand and form a preference.

2. User support

your community can supply information that helps customers learn about your brand and/or helps them get more from their brand purchase.

3. Bring traffic to your website or store

social media brings more traffic to your website by sharing links to content or products. Social media also brings more traffic to your website through it’s impact on SEO or Search Engine Optimization (and this aspect is increasing). Google currently gives websites a few extra points when they actively engage a community on social networks. That means your webpages show up higher in a user search and, since most users select links near the top of their search results (SERPs), you’ll get more traffic

4. Discover consumers

even if you choose not to “talk” in social media, you SHOULD listen. By listening to conversations between social media users, you’ll discover:

  1. unmet needs – which helps you create solutions to their problems.
  2. hot buttons – what’s most important to them in deciding which brand to purchase.
  3. competitive advantage – what things do you do better than your peers? Worse?
  4. lifestyle – this helps you construct promotions since consumers buy from people who are “like” them.
  5. what’s working and what’s not – likely elements of your strategy are really a hit with consumers and some aren’t. By listening to consumers you can optimize your strategy to please them.
  6. who is influential in this space? – you can increase your sales by getting in good with these influencers. Offer them free admission to your movie or a free meal at your restaurant to encourage these influencers to share their positive feelings about your brand.

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Social Media as Market Research

social media market researchSocial media is a fabulous market research tool! It allows you to step into everyone’s living room and hear the kinds of conversations they have around their dining room every night (well, assuming people still HAD conversations around their dining table).

Social media as market research

Businesses seem to always think about social media as a way to TALK to consumers, or get consumers to talk about them.  And, this message amplification is a great reason to use social media.  More people hear your message and they hear it from a “friend” — whether that’s you or someone else in their network.

Possibly more important for the success of the firm, is the potential to HEAR what consumers are saying.  You can hear what’s important for them, what they’re doing with their lives, who they identify with, what problems they encounter …

Knowing more about your target market helps you succeed in a number of ways:

1. Better advertising

Consumers buy products because they identify with the brand.  When you understand what consumers like and who they are, you can create ads that they identify with.  Ads that contain images of people who look like them, people who live the way they do, and images of people they admire.

2. New products

When you discover problems consumers encounter in their daily lives, you can create products customized to solve these problems.

The new liftgate on some SUV’s and Minivans is a good example of a product designed to solve a consumer problem.  When people use their cars, they often have their hands full with children, packages, sports equipment, or a briefcase and coffee cup.  You don’t have hands free to fumble around for your keys to push the liftgate button.  With the new liftgate, you don’t need to.  All you have to do is use your foot — and most people have a free foot!

3. Improved customer satisfaction

Despite the way if feels some days, few dissatisfied customers complain to the company about products.  But, they DO tell their friends.  And, with social media, consumers tell complete strangers on Twitter or Facebook, or Google+ when they encounter a problem.

If you’re listening, you can use these complaints to fix many problems.  Maybe the consumer didn’t understand how to use the product resulting in dissatisfaction.  You can help them understand or set up their product correctly by responding to their complaint in social media.

4. Modifications to existing products

Just as you can listen for dissatisfied customers and help them become more satisfied with the product, you can use customer complaints to make your brands better.  Maybe consumers post a desire to see the product in a different color.  Viola, you can get this into production fast.

Don’t just use comments to modify existing products, let consumers know you were LISTENING by telling them you made the changes.  This way, you’re forging better relationships with your customers, which leads to customer satisfaction, loyalty, and positive word of mouth.

California Tortilla does this well.  When customers complained about losing a menu item, the company brought it back for a limited time.

How to use social media for market research

1. Listening post

The first step is to collect data in a listening post.  I really like Radian6 for this, although it’s REALLY expensive.  Trackr is a good, less expensive alternative.

2. Analyze

The data generated by a listening post is called unstructured data, because it’s not numeric.  Analyzing unstructured data is much more challenging (but so are the rewards).

There’s software to help (and here are my 3 favorites), but dealing with unstructured data is more of an art than a science.  I’ll leave this topic for another post.

HyperRESEARCH is a product of ResearchWare.  I’ve used this extensively for qualitative research and find it very intuitive, easy to use and powerful.  While I’ve never used this for keyword based categorization, it should be able to handle this just fine.  One advantage of the software is it can handle audio and visual data (ie. YouTube and Flickr), however this data must be categorized manually (at least in the version I own).

nVIVO is another excellent qualitative analysis software program.  I’ve used an earlier version of this software with excellent results. Again, its intuitive and easy to use.  Its not as powerful as HyperRESEARCH, but still a good option.

SPSS text analysis software is a new addition to the SPSS family.  Since it shares an interface with familiar SPSS software its easy to use and subsequent data analysis can be accomplished using SPSS statistics after converting data to a numeric representation. A drawback is that this software doesn’t handle visual or auditory data.

Need help?

Just ask. We’re happy to put together a program to handle your needs whether it’s simple listening to monitor sentiment or a full-blown market research program (we can also do qualitative data research).  Visit our services page to learn more about what we can do to make your marketing SIZZLE or see a list of our satisfied customers.

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Analytics: Social Media Marketing Grows Up

Social media is changing — and analytics are leading this transformation.  Yet, surprisingly, when I pitch my business to prospective clients, I’m shocked to find competitors never mentioned metrics or analytics when discussing their services.  Or, they assess metrics that don’t lead to success of your social media marketing strategies — like #Fans/ Followers, Page Rank, or # Visitors to your website.  Bleh!

Social Media Analytics Must Mesh With ROI

Return on Investment (ROI) is the name of the game.  You don’t run social media for the warm fuzzies you get from interacting with your target audience.  You run social media to MAKE MONEY!

Unfortunately, social media marketing, like many other marketing tactics, doesn’t translate into increased sales directly.  And, with social media, the more directly you focus on making money, the worse your results are likely to be.

social media roiOften, you’ll see the ROI of social media marketing through a hierarchy of effects.  And, you can read more about how this hierarchy of effects increases the ROI for your business using the above link.

So, you see, greater returns come from creating engagement, which amplifies your message through your social graph, with the goal of building a community of consumption.  A community not only spreads your message, but defends your brand and encourages others to consumer your brand.  You can read more about creating engagement in social media in other pages of this website or by reading the presentation I made at last year’s DC Tech Week.

When you create evangelists in social media, you reap even greater rewards as these individuals not only promote your marketing efforts, they act like partial employees to answer questions, give demonstrations, and offer advice to other consumers and prospective consumers.

Certainly, these efforts translate into increased sales, although they don’t measure increased sales directly.  But, we do know word of mouth advertising, such as reflected when friends share commercial messages in social networks, do a better job of motivating sales than advertising — and for less money.

Hence, social media analytics should measure how successful your efforts are in driving users in social networks down this hierarchy.  Some metrics to assess your success in driving consumers down your social media hierarchy of effects are:

  1. Number of comments
  2. Facebook analytics such as “Talking about this
  3. Website metrics such as number of pageviews per visitor
  4. Number of shares
  5. Number of ReTweets, Repins, etc.
  6. Level of consumer to consumer interaction on your posts
  7. Growth in your email list or RSS feed

Social Media Analytics Must Mesh with Goals

Certainly, one of your goals should be to drive consumers down the hierarchy of effects, but likely you have other goals and objectives for your social media, as well.

Improve Sentiment

One goal might involve increasing the level of positive sentiment.  Sentiment is a metric that reflects online satisfaction with your brand.  Most listening software, such as Radian6, include assessments of sentiment based on curation of brand mentions across social networks.

Increased Inquiries

Many of my clients work in B2B markets where their social media marketing goal is to generate leads for the sales force.  This is assessed using the metric of inquiries.

Press Mentions

Some firms’ goal involves using social media marketing to generate traditional press mention.  Unfortunately for many, the press often highlights mistakes brands make in using social media, rather than success.  Press mentions are assessed using a traditional clipping service.

Other Social Media Metrics

In addition to metrics reflecting how well you’re doing in driving ROI, you need metrics to help you make better decisions about your social media going forward.

I’m often asked by clients to provide the magic bullet that will make their social media marketing ZING.  But, there are not magic bullets.  Sure, with my experience and expertise I’m able to reduce the number of social media marketing mistakes a brand makes, but no one is infallible.

For instance, I can tell you that, in general, images do better in Facebook than posts without images.  But, that’s pretty general.  I need metrics to determine how YOUR market responds to messages in each social network where you participate.  I’ll watch what happens to each post and status update. I’ll encourage you to create MORE social media marketing content that resonate with your market and fewer of the ones that don’t.

Social Media Marketing Grows Up

Regardless of your goals, metrics, and analytics, the reality is that social media marketing has grown up.  If your social media team isn’t providing reports accessing your social media marketing campaign at least weekly, you’re not getting what you need to be successful in social media marketing.

Gone are the days of running a social media marketing campaign by the seat of your pants.  Now, A/B testing, sophisticated causal models, and trend analysis are the name of the social media marketing game.  Eye tracking tests how consumers “READ” websites and pages to optimize placement of critical elements such as email subscription forms and sales elements.  Understanding how consumers search for products, how they prefer sharing your content, and who influences their purchase decisions relies on traditional marketing research tactics, such as focus groups and ethnographies.  And, don’t forget the importance of SEO in guiding searchers to your online content.

Just putting up stuff that “LOOKS GOOD” may mean you’re wasting your time.  Hiring a “kid” (or using your intern) who must “know” social media since he/ she has 500 Facebook friends and will work cheap ensures your social media marketing fails to achieve its potential.

Your Turn

What do you think about using analytics as an integral part of your social media marketing? Interested?

Hausman and Associates would love the opportunity to show what we can do with out superior analysis techniques geared toward optimizing the impact of your social media marketing.  Please visit our Hire Us page to learn more about how we can help you and request a proposal to address your social media marketing needs.

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The 8 Biggest Failures With Social Media Marketing

spending on social mediaFailing in your social media marketing efforts?

Maybe you tried social media and didn’t see much lift.  Social media seemed like a lot of work — learning the idiosyncracies of different social networks, creating and scraping content, engaging your network — for very little ROI (Return on Investment).

Ever think maybe you were doing social media marketing wrong??????

Biggest Failures in Social Media Marketing

1. Not spending enough time or money on social media marketing.

Take a look at the survey on your right from eMarketer and you’ll see that MOST firms are spending LITTLE or NOTHING on social media marketing!  That’s why I call this one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.  Companies take a “wait and see” attitude toward social media marketing — we’ll test the waters with a small spend and see what happens.  That’s like opening a store and only stocking a few items until you see if those sell.  You’re just setting your social media marketing efforts up for failure.

Instead, most firms spend 90-100% of their marketing budget on traditional media. It boggles the mind as to why firms continue pouring money into a medium that no one watches, everyone hates and distrusts, and costs WAY too much money.

2. Not hiring the right people

Firms seem to think they can avoid failure in social media by hiring young kids — often simply interns.  Firms assume that social media is simply knowing how to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account and figure their interns all know this stuff.  Every year I teach a social media marketing class to very bright marketing students at an elite private university and I can tell you these social network mavens know NOTHING about how social media marketing works.  That’s why I call this one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.

3. Duh – it’s marketing !

Often folks running your social media marketing are techies or design folks who don’t understand the first thing about marketing or consumer behavior.  SEO folks may be able to get you on the first page of Google, but do they convert that traffic?  And, your design team may create fancy webpages and beautiful Fan Pages, but DO THEY HELP CONVERT THAT TRAFFIC? I recently visited a client whose designer fought AGAINST having a newsletter sign-up on the home page because it didn’t work well on the mobile site. Not only is that a lame excuse, but, as a B2B company, the firm likely didn’t have many folks in the TARGET MARKET trying to access their site from a mobile device.

And, don’t even get me started on what these guys don’t understand about branding.  That’s why I call this one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.

4. Using the wrong metrics

Tracking likes, fans, followers, etc causes you to make poor decisions – like running contests to get more Likes.  Since these numbers often fail to generate increased sales for your firm, why measure them? That’s why I call this one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.

What you should be measuring are things that DO help convert visitors, such as sentiment, reach (ie. ReTweets, shares), and increased sales.

5. Lack of consistency

Social media marketing doesn’t work like traditional advertising — you can’t flight it or pulse it.  You’ve got to commit to creating great, engaging content 365 days a year.  That’s why I call this one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.

6. Lack of follow-up

When folks post comments or questions on your Facebook page or on Twitter, answer them quickly.  Ignoring these interactions can cause complaints that might go viral.  That’s why I call this one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.

7. Say thank you

Saying thank you is so simple and easy, yet firms forget to use it enough.  You’ll find if you consistently omit thank you’s when folks mention good things about you, they’ll stop.  That’s why I call this one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.

I’m small enough that I thank folks for every like, +1, share, ReTweet …  Now, I can envision a day when that might not be possible, but I’ll still thank folks when they say something nice about me.

8. Listen more than you talk

A major difference between social media marketing and traditional marketing is the two-way communication offered in social networks.  Consumers have great things to say, so listen to them.  They’ll tell you what they want, how they fell, what they like and don’t like.  A smart marketer can turn this conversation into better products, better promotions, and increased sales.  Failure to listen is one of the biggest failures with social media marketing.

Your Turn

What do you think are the biggest failures with social media marketing?

Hausman and Associates

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service agency operating at the intersection of marketing and social media.  Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more tools, tricks, and tips for marketing your business.  We’d love to show you how to make your marketing SIZZLE.  Please contact us for a quote on marketing strategy, marketing research, coaching, complete social media marketing packages, or to have Dr. Hausman speak at your event.

 

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5 Ways to Make Sure Your Marketing Is LOVEABLE

Visual: How Marketing Evolved Into Something People Actually LoveInteresting graphic today from HubSpot on how marketing is loveable.  I’m not sure when marketing became a 4 letter word, but I agree marketing spruced up its image with the rise of social media.

Of course, understand that only a small fraction of most company’s marketing spend is for social media — and much of that is done really BADLY — ie. not loveable marketing that is still disruptive and me-oriented.

Loveable marketing

solves problems

Marketing should have never been a 4 letter word if marketers understood marketing (or maybe it’s more a function of CEO’s understanding marketing).

When Marketing is Loveable it SOLVES PROBLEMS

And, when marketing solves consumer problems, everyone benefits — the firm and its stakeholders benefit from increased sales, consumers benefit from having their problems solved, government benefits from increased taxes.

But, somewhere along the road to modernity, marketers forgot their primary directive was to solve problems and instead, focused on selling product — no matter WHAT it took.  The relationship marketing concept supposedly embraced by firms sought to change the notion of selling to one of building relationships with consumers built on trust, product quality, and superior service.

Instead, it was easier (and cheaper) for firms to trick consumers into buying mediocre products from indifferent service providers and pay lip service to relationship building.  Social media marketing quickly uncovers the fraud of this approach; finally forcing firms to CARE about consumers.

So, the question is:

How do I make sure my marketing is loveable?

1. Superior customer service

Sometimes folks forget that marketing is SO much more than advertising.  And customer service is a good example of how non-advertising aspects of marketing deeply affect sales.

I mean, think about it.  How often have you left a restaurant or store swearing you’d never return because the service provider was rude, slow, poorly trained …?

I walked out of Wendy’s last week after being ignored by a half-dozen employees who were too busy laughing at their own jokes and a counter clerk on a personal call to wait on the customers at the counter.  I walked next door to their competition and I’ll never go back.  Face it, consumers have LOTS of choices and you’re just not that special.  Mess up and I’ll just give your competition my money.  When you multiply this by the number of customers getting bad service and you see the monumental impact of poor service on profits.

2. Understand what customers want

How can you solve consumer problems and give them what they want if you DON’T UNDERSTAND them? Obviously, you can’t.  But, when was the last time you spent significant effort trying to understand your target market?  Not, tracking the effect of your advertising on customer attitudes — really getting to know your target market?

My guess is it’s been a long time (or never) since you really tried to understand your target market.  People point fingers at Apple products because they’re too expensive and not as good as other brands.  All true, yet Apple sales soar while Microsoft posted its first quarterly loss earlier this month.  Why do people buy expensive, inferior Apple products, such as iPhone, rather than less expensive, better performing alternatives, like Android phones? Because Apple understands its target market and gives them exactly what they want.

3. Innovate, innovate, innovate

Customer problems, technology, and the environment change over time.  If you’re still offering the same great products, you’re loosing ground.  Intel, for instance, states that most of its income comes from products that didn’t even exist at the beginning of the year.

But, just innovating isn’t enough.  You have to use your customer understanding to create innovative products to solve consumer problems.  New isn’t the goal.  Solving new problems or solving them better is.  Look at Zuckerberg (Facebook).  He wasn’t a freakin’ genius.  Facebook wasn’t a NEW idea.  What was new was the interface that made creating a profile and connecting with “friends” intuitive.  And this is what made Facebook a huge success and squashed MySpace like a bug.

4. Engage

Consumers are PEOPLE, not numbers on a spreadsheet.  Engage them in conversation.  Ask their opinion. Have them create content for you.  This is where HubSpot really got it right in their graphic.

5. Be a good corporate citizen

Gone are the days when consumers would accept corporations that polluted our environment, made their products in sweat shops (ie. Nike), and endangered consumers with bad products.  Marketing is loveable when corporations act responsibly.

For example, I go to McDonald’s most of the time when I want fast food.  Granted, their food is only mediocre and their service minimally acceptable, but they’re GREAT corporate citizens.  Not only does McDonald’s support the Ronald McDonald House, it donates to many local and national charities through corporate donations and in-kind donations of food.  Restaurant employees are encouraged to “Adopt” a road to clean trash thrown out by consumers because trash bearing your logo is bad business.  McDonald’s also voluntarily reduced the calories and increased the nutrition in their Happy Meal by reducing the size of the fries and adding sliced apples.

So, now you see how marketing is loveable.  I hope you try some of these tactics soon.  Let me know how it goes. Loveable marketing doesn’t happen overnight, but, over time you should see sales increase.

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