To 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 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- unmet needs – which helps you create solutions to their problems.
- hot buttons – what’s most important to them in deciding which brand to purchase.
- competitive advantage – what things do you do better than your peers? Worse?
- lifestyle – this helps you construct promotions since consumers buy from people who are “like” them.
- 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.
- 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.