8 Essential Systems to Determine the ROI of Social Media Activation

Social media is no longer thought of as an “experiment” but as a new communication platform that businesses can use to connect to their customers, prospects, partners and employees. According to a 2011 study from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth (http://bit.ly/v3Vk9R), the majority of the Fortune 500 companies have incorporated social media across multiple channels (blogs  – 91%, Twitter – 62% or Facebook page – 56%) into their marketing mix. The positive impact of these “experiments” has subsequently increased social media budgets – approximately 10%  according to the August 2011 CMO Survey (http://bit.ly/uRDdwA) – for additional community managers, content services and social media tools.

In the confines of the executive suite, the CEO”™s primary business objective is to increase shareholder value through profitability. Consequently, the CMO is tasked to translate social media activation metrics – “friends of fans” to “fans” to “customers” – into traditional business metrics – leads generated, leads converted, return-on-investment (ROI) ““ to demonstrate that the injection of social media into the marketing mix is worthy of the additional investment. This transformation within today”™s enterprises from simple social media marketing to scalable social media communication programs is what marketers are calling “Social Business”.

Usually driven by the CMO, this digital marketing metamorphosis requires the entire organization (e.g. marketing, PR, investor relations, technology, finance, HR, sales and legal teams) to collaborate and to plan strategically. The organization must consider the structural impact on:

1. Resources (e.g. budget, headcount, time)

2. Processes (e.g. content approval paths, user provisioning, education)

3. Compliance (e.g. auditing & discovery, data retention, data security)

4. Analytics & Reporting (e.g. system integration, actionable digital analytics)

David Armano of Edelman Digital addresses planning for the resources, processes and compliance issues in his post “Social Business Planning: Aligning Internal with External” (http://choma.in/twgssj).

How would you measure and report the impact of your “Social Business”?

Measuring social media is not difficult. It is connecting the social metrics (both directly and indirectly) to business metrics like profitability that is cumbersome. In order to effectively measure and report the ROI of social media to the CEO, there must be a dashboard that integrates social systems and enterprise legacy systems. The “social business” dashboard allows for consistent metrics across the entire company, better result discovery, and faster decision-making. Although there are a plethora of digital marketing legacy systems and social media tools with similar messaging and a lack of product differentiation, the following list of systems will help you define the core systems to help measure the ROI of social media:

Social Systems

Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group states that social systems are “a collection of procedures used to manage workflow in a disparate social media environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based and enable the manager to listen, aggregate, publish, and manage multiple social media channels from one tool”.

1. Social Media Management System (SMMS): At a high level, SMMS incorporate the following:

- Connect with social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, WordPress, and Google+ for direct engagement.

- Allow the social marketer to publish and schedule from one location to each of those channels. Some provide the ability to customize to each channel.

- Aggregate and manage social data. The system allows the manager to see an aggregated view of what”™s happening (from views to comments) and may offer some form of analytics and conversion metrics.

With the integration of the following social and legacy digital marketing systems, an enterprise-class SMMS can serve as the aggregate digital marketing dashboard that bring all your efforts together.

2. URL Shortening Service: URL shortening services like bit.ly shortens URLs and provides tools to view statistics related to users that click on generated links. A URL shortening service is essential for microblogging (e.g. Twitter) since there is a character limit to each post. Most SMMSs are integrated with a URL shortening service.

3. Monitoring Platform: Monitoring or listening platforms aggregate and analyze the conversations on the social web based on keywords or keyword phrases such as your product, brand or company names. In the most basic sense, these monitoring tools derive:

- Share of Voice: Tracking how often your company and/or its products (in context with the rest of its industry conversation (competition)) are mentioned on the social Web is a standard best practice.

- Sentiment: Measuring the polarity (positive/neutral/negative) of each conversation

- Impact: Measuring the impact of your own participation

4. Facebook Application & Tab Management platform (a.k.a. Social CMS): Brands are investing in applications that are embedded as tabs in their Facebook pages. The purpose of social applications is to create engaging, participatory campaigns that spark engagement with your brand, and reach the “friends of your fans” ““ to recruit new fans, build brand awareness and drive sales. In a nutshell, Social CMS’s:

- Give the brand more creative control over the customer experience being delivered and can form the basis for longer-term engagement.

- Allows for more easily repeatable social campaigns by leveraging “template” applications (e.g. sign-up forms, promos, contests, etc.) versus requiring them to manually recreate every program from scratch for every new campaign.

- Allow brands to capture a fan”™s social profile information (e.g. email address, location, etc.) or allow the application permission to access to user”™s Facebook profile information without violating terms of use or privacy policies. This data will be an important source for seeding your Audience Platform.

5. Audience Platform: Your dashboard must be able to help companies track and manage relationships or the “customer acquisition life-cycle” as social media contacts move from “friends of fans” to “fans” to “customers” and ultimately “brand advocates.”

Emerging services, both standalone and integrated as a function, are allowing brand marketers to build detailed profiles of their social media contacts and the users”™ engagement history with their brands.

6. Influencer Index: Social profiles can be enriched further with customer data from other feedback channels and other company systems. Rather than focusing on elementary metrics like your number of Twitter followers, an integration with an online influencer index like Klout or Peer Index allows for deeper audience segmentation that combines several data points (followers, retweets, clicks on links, etc.) algorithm to derive a unified metric.

Brands can leverage these detailed customer profiles to segment customers and tailor messages and promotions.

Legacy Digital Marketing Systems

Ultimately, there is a need to reconcile social profiles and leads with traditional web analytics and lead nurturing (CRM / Marketing Automation Systems).

7. Web Analytics: Although social helps with website traffic and SEO, the use of a shared link tagging architecture between web analytics packages (e.g. Google Analytics, Omniture, Web Trends, Coremetrics) and URL shorteners can yield powerful “click-to-conversion” ROI metrics. Click-throughs from your social media messages can be tracked and sourced. You now have the ability to measure and report the direct impact social media can have on your “conversions” (e.g. a purchase of a product, a download of a coupon, or a download of a whitepaper).   An enterprise can take that data and track the conversion of those leads in a CRM to get a full picture of social media”™s effectiveness in its customer conversion funnel and overall ROI.

8. Marketing Automation / Traditional CRM: Ultimately, companies need to reconcile social contacts collected in social media activation programs and leads with traditional CRM systems. This mapping and feedback loop will let brands understand the extent to which these programs affects sales and the customer purchase behavior.

As companies”™ social media programs mature, it is an imperative to build an infrastructure and environment to capture and measure ROI. It starts with the integration of a combination of social platforms and existing digital marketing systems. By all means, this not meant to be a comprehensive list. This “core” system integration will help marketers clearly calculate and effectively report the impact of their social media lead conversion efforts. This is an essential step towards transforming your company into a “social business”.

3 Responses to “8 Essential Systems to Determine the ROI of Social Media Activation”

  1. Joakim Nilsson

    I’ve a take on how to attribute the gains and cost for doing Customer Service outreach in social channels here: http://www.joakimnilsson.com/strategy-and-organisation/how-to-calculate-social-media-customer-service-roi/

    Reply
  2. Ken Cho

    Ken Cho

    Joakim – As usual, I am impressed with your post. Determining the ROI for customer service and lead generation (e.g. activation) is essential for the long term success of these social media initiatives. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Antoine

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