Managers should begin by considering consumer motivations to use social media and then measure the social media investments customers make as they engage with the marketers’ brands.
Returns from social media investments will not always be measured in dollars, but also in customer behaviours (investments). Consumer investments include measures such as the number of visits, time spent with the application as well as more active investments, such as the valence of blog comments and the number of Facebook updates and Twitter pages about the brand.
Four key motivations – connections, creation, consumption and control drive consumer use of social media. This “4c’s” perspective is important because it leads to a consumer-oriented framework for evaluating social media.
The social media environment is largely consumer — not marketer — controlled.
Sales, cost efficiencies, product development and market research are obvious objectives of development of appropriate social media metrics.
Even small scale social media efforts can benefit from plugging in segment-level estimates and proxy measures to quantify how the customer investments from brand awareness, brand engagement and word of mouth affect the purchase decision funnel and ultimately the bottom line.
Traditionally brand awareness is measured through tracking studies and surveys. Brand awareness is a key social media objective. In the social media environment, every time a person uses an application designed by or about the company, the company gains increased exposure to its brand, often in highly relevant contexts.
How has NAKED Pizza used Twitter in interesting ways?
Brand engagement can be enhanced through social media in various ways, and the results can be strikingly positive. Highly engaging social media campaigns involving user-generated content likely generate commitment on the part of the consumer, reinforcing loyalty to the brand and making the customer more likely to commit additional effort to support the brand in the future. The bottom line rewards for this kind of engagement may be observed through delayed sales. Brand Engagement is traditionally measured through customer surveys. Online marketers can use one-time versus repeated interactions or active participation compared to passive consumption of social media as proxy measures.
Word of Mouth
Once consumers are aware and engaged, they are in a position to communicate their opinions to other consumers. Satisfied and loyal consumers communicate their positive attitudes toward the brand itself or toward the social application created by the company. Dissatisfied and disgruntled customers may also share their negative attitudes toward the brand or poor social applications, as when technology journalist Jeff Jarvis
The advantage of starting with consumer motivation, as opposed to trying to figure out what social media application to use, is that it makes clear how seemingly disparate applications are actually quite similar if they share the same underlying motivation for use. This makes the job of creating integrated marketing campaigns less overwhelming but more closely tied to online consumer behaviour.
Path to Effective Social Media Strategy
- Set of objective for social media efforts and understand that consumers are motivated to make investments in companies’ social media efforts through interactions with the brand.
- Strategic Options for social media measurement
- Measure and Adjust – Failing + Quantifiable
- Iterate for Success – Succeeding + Quantifiable
- Dead End – Failing + Fuzzy
- Naïve Optimist – Succeeding + Fuzzy
Important facts of social media life
- Control over the rules and participatory framework of how consumers will engage with their brands.
- Managers must appreciate that the social media environment is highly dynamic and rapidly evolving.
Social media efforts developed in the context of the 4 c’s connections, creation, consumption and control underlie consumer motivation to participate will lead to higher ROI because the company’s marketing investments can better leverage the active “investments” its customers will make as they engage with the company’s brands.
Effective social media strategies put the brand to work for the customers by satisfying their needs to create, consume, connect and control in the social Web.