While most brands appreciate the importance of using social media as a marketing tool, few fully understand which particular elements of social they should focus on, and which techniques deliver the best return on investment (ROI). Owned. Paid. EarnedIt's commonly believed that clickthroughs, used to measure the success of most types of paid digital marketing, are indicative of social marketing success, but using this narrow definition of social engagement can conceal the real value of what we call "earned media". Owned media is the fan pages that brands have, paid media equates to the media that brands use to drive traffic to these fan pages. Earned media however, is what you should be striving to achieve; turning your audience into brand advocates with their shares, posts and mentions.What makes us trust a brand on Facebook?The majority of us take what brands say about their own products with a pinch of salt. However, 68 per cent of Facebook users say that a recommendation from a Facebook friend would make them more likely to buy a product or visit a retailer. This means that enticing your Facebook fans to share, post and mention your business will massively boost interest in your brand. How to make users 'like' your businessBe sure to offer users something in return for ‘liking' your page. Users are more prone to do so if they are offered a discount, access to exclusive content or the possibility of winning a prize. By enticing your Facebook audience to like, share, comment on and mention your brand, you are set to boost the number of new users. As well as being effective in user conversion, earned media can create a 12 pe cent increase in all engagement rates among friends of fans. In order to succeed in spawning earned media, it is essential to offer content that's engaging enough for your audience to want to share it with their friends. While vouchers, giveaways and sweepstakes result in the greatest number of entries, high engagement rates do not always translate to earned media (via sharing) so you may want to strike a balance between the two. What kind of content gets users sharing?When engaging with users, always ask yourself 'what's in it for them?' Quizzes and ‘pick your favourite' questionnaires have the best success rate for being 'shared' but make sure that your quizzes reveal something positive about the respondents (for example highlighting their best personality traits). This kind of questionnaire which exposes something about their tastes or interests have the highest levels of sharing. 82 per cent of users who clicked on a friend's post about a quiz then took the quiz themselves, so when a user's attention is piqued by the news feed, the engagement potential is very high. Measure successBe sure to define your goals before launching a social media campaign, if you want to measure its success accurately. While your objective with one campaign might be engagement (garnering likes, comments and clicks), another might be earned media; turning your audience into brand evangelists. Earned media may be more valuable in terms of leads, but engagement is extremely valuable in getting to know your audience, and building in long-term loyalty. Set yourself realistic targets like gaining 500 news fans/likes per month and track the number of new leads and brand advocates to measure the success of your campaign.To achieve social marketing success, the key is to offer a variety of engaging campaigns. Those campaigns with the greatest levels of success offer a balance of campaign types that encourages high levels of sharing, and media that entices audiences to participate. Victoria Ransom is the CEO of social media marketing company Wildfire.
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I get the impression that people are more likely to buy / respond to a brand based on a friend's recommendation (regardless of the medium via which that recommendation is delivered) precisely because they trust their friends. If they think their friends have been bribed to say good things about a product brand then the credibility of that friend / person falls off. Bad for the brand and bad for friendship.