Understanding the Value of Social Media

2/23/2010

- Emily MacNair, Client Strategist

Last year was explosive for social media marketing (SMM).  SMM was probably discussed at most companies, and many tested the waters and implemented a social media presence for themselves.  As we are now in 2010, social media is continuing to grow.  eMarketer predicts that social network ad spending will reach $2.5 billion worldwide in 2010 and $1.3 billion in the US. Today it is almost difficult to find a large company or brand not participating in social media.  It seems as though everyone has jumped in head first, almost over night.

Many individuals managing a brand or company social media presence struggle to understand the return on their time and effort invested.  They wonder why sales haven't increased and why the referring traffic to their website has not doubled the visits to the website. Those who have worked with their company's social media channels for a while have started to understand what SMM is really all about.  It's not about continuously pushing content out to your fans or followers in hopes that they're reading what you are sharing.  SMM is about being a part of a community, which is where many companies fall short due to a lack of time, familiarity with the channel, or desire to really commit or believe that social media can work.

Here at MoreVisibility we have seen really great things happen within social media channels for many companies. The trick, however, is having a strategy in place. By doing so, you will ensure that your SMM initiatives coincide with your other marketing efforts, online and offline. You will also start to see that measuring success isn't always about the referring visits to the website or sales.  There has to be a level of understanding that there will not always be a direct correlation between your social media efforts and an increase in sales.  Being an active member of an online community where your audience is spending time can lead to other measures of success, varying by channel. It may be the number of comments or likes, retweets, or the dialogue held.  It may also be the content or news that is shared, which can become viral.

One thing that is often overlooked is that social media isn't limited to viewers of your page or profile within a specific channel.  Your messaging can be reposted into other channels, talked about among peers, and even distributed further via email.  I experienced a perfect example of this recently.  I was forwarded an email message that originated from a major retail company's Facebook page.  I participated in the promotion being offered, and to my surprise, I won a $100 gift card!  Even though I did not find the information about this promotion in Facebook, this social media channel is where it originated. We've seen this happen with promotions and especially news-worthy topics, where it was first distributed within a social media channel and then it spread within that channel and beyond.

 

With social media, messages and content can become viral, extending further than the source to attract customers and clients who may have not been actively seeking your company or brand.  Many are developing ways to track their social media reach by way of promotional codes and reviewing analytics data.  This information is helpful to see what content is most beneficial and it also makes it possible to determine what types of content and promotions to create in the future.

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