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Good News, Marketers: Tech has Caught Up to Social

Good News, Marketers: Tech has Caught Up to Social Victoria Ransom
It shouldn’t be a big surprise to you how important social media is in the lives of today’s consumer. The average person now spends 26% of their digital lives on social media, more than any other single activity!

The interesting thing is that the time they spend on social is incredibly valuable. This summer, Wildfire by Google and Forrester conducted a survey of 1,800 consumers, looking at how their engagement with five major brands impacted their purchase decisions. What we found is that customers that engaged with brands in social channels were 27% more likely to have made a purchase from a brand, and they purchased 77% more than non-engagers. It’s clear that there’s a correlation between the people that are willing to be your social friends, and the people that are interested in spending their dollars with you.

Further, a recent reports show that social media channels alone produce almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail or PPC.

As the proof of social’s value grows, I’ve seen a big shift in my talks with thousands of global brand marketers. The conversation has gone from “should I do social?” to “how do I integrate social in an impactful, meaningful way?” I’m now seeing a critical mass of marketers ready to close the divide between social and digital.

According to a 2013 Wildfire by Google-sponsored Ad Age survey, 90 percent of enterprise brands report that it is extremely or somewhat important to integrate social into other digital media activities – but only half of the organizations are confident that the technologies they currently have can make this happen. It’s clear there is work to be done to align social marketing with other digital marketing initiatives to get rid of the siloed, disjointed campaign and measurement approach. We’ve outlined three big steps that marketers need to take in order to start acting on social.

1. Don’t Hide Behind the Jargon

The first and most important step is identifying what success looks like for social in your organization.  When social was first introduced, it wasn’t possible to really measure success in social due to a rather immature technological landscape.  As a result, people starting solely measuring things like engagement.  Even today according to the same Google-sponsored Ad Age survey discussed above, the greatest reported impact of social was “increased engagement,” but when pressed, respondents were unable to define exactly “engagement” meant to them.

These findings suggest that marketing professionals have been hiding behind buzzwords and “social centric” metrics including likes, +1s, shares, comments, etc. While these indicate valuable relationship building, it is the hard metrics, such as conversion and ROI, that equally define a successful social campaign.

2. Be Strategic with Social

Now that social measurement technology has caught up, it’s really the time for marketers to understand the complete value of social - in terms of engagement and ROI - by putting the proper tools into place.

Once CMOs and their colleagues can define what success looks like, the next step is to place the same strategic thinking behind social as is done for other marketing sectors. According to our surveyed marketers, these are the following four top priorities for social media:

1) Maintaining high levels of engagement with social audience

2) Effective measurement of social initiatives

3) Brand consistency

4) Strategic social vision

These four priorities exemplify what’s missing in some brands’ social approach: a truly strategic campaign that takes a top-down approach. A campaign that starts with a clear end goal and wraps into the overall brand strategy. So why should social be any different? With 90 percent of marketing professionals onboard with social integration, why is overall strategic social vision so low on their list? I believe it is because the best methods for execution, and team organization, have been unclear.

Now that innovative technology providers are creating the proper platforms for marketing campaigns, CMOs have the opportunity to create a strategic plan that integrates social seamlessly into their overall brand vision.

3. Act on your Metrics

Of course, this is easier said than done. Any CMO can come up with a social vision – but it’s the actual tactics that bring it to life. That’s why marketers need to rely on their metrics to really help create long-lasting, engaging campaigns that are data driven. They need to answer the question of how a user’s interaction with a brand in social effects ROI and other business objectives.

Today, 47% of brand marketers reported that social is fully integrated into their marketing initiatives, but less than half of them said sales conversions was a key measurement. If social is going to be an equal partner in the marketing mix, social contribution to the consumer journey has to be the focal point for any company, of any size, on any platform. It’s time for marketers to leverage the metrics that are available to show social’s role in a consumer’s path to purchase, and ultimate impact on the company’s bottom line.

The conclusion here is simple: good news, marketers, the technology you never knew you missed has finally caught up. New innovations in social media measurement and management tools mean that the data you need to prove social’s value is at your fingertips. And social data can now be viewed inline with other digital channels. Closing the digital marketing divide that exists between social and other marketing channels today will result in more relevant brand experiences for your consumers, better collaboration and control across your organization, and ultimately better insights into all of your customers’ interactions with your brand.

Now is the time to define what you want from the social piece of your marketing, think strategically about how to integrate it and let the numbers speak for you.

Victoria has been an entrepreneur since her early twenties and has developed three companies. As founder & head of Wildfire, a social media marketing technology provider recently acquired by Google, Victoria has built the company to tens of...

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