At a recent roundtable discussion comprising marketing professionals from a range of industries (including hospitality, music and banking), we investigated the challenges faced regarding social media marketing. We asked marketing professionals what their single biggest problem was when it comes to marketing their brand on social media. We expected responses such as “understanding algorithms” or “measuring return on investment”. Instead, the leading answer was (surprisingly): getting approval for a social media budget. Some marketing managers had difficulty getting sufficient funds allocated towards social media activities, while others struggled to get a budget at all.
Most of the marketers surveyed attributed this problem to their organisation’s decision-makers’ lack of understanding regarding the business value offered by social media. The rest simply didn’t know where to start in terms of approaching their business’s CEO/Director/Owner/Financial Manager about investing in social media. Based on the insight provided by this focus group, we have put together some tips to help marketers when it comes to getting your social media budget approved.
Getting your social media budget approved – tips for marketers
Before approaching your company’s decision-maker about social media budgets, make sure that you have the required information and insight at hand. These are some tips and techniques designed to help you motivate your case for social media investment:
Take an integrated approach: Instead of approaching social media as a separate marketing component, integrate it with your overall marketing plan. Social media has the capability to support virtually any other marketing activity. For example, driving foot traffic if you have an in-store sale or boosting awareness and ticket sales for an event. It should therefore form an integral part of your marketing mix. Presenting a well-designed marketing plan that includes social media may be more favourably received than a separate social media plan in isolation.
Do the research: Social media is able to support your brand’s needs, wants and priorities. Shortlist your company’s business objectives and look at how social media can promote each of these goals. This includes tangible factors such as sales generation, as well as promoting goals such as increasing brand awareness or positive affinity. Both short- and long-term company goals should be taken into account when ascertaining how social media can be used to benefit the business.
Do the legwork: Consult with social media specialists to gain insight into solutions that would work best for your brand. Speak to more than one expert so that you can get a balanced idea of the options that you have. Thereafter, get quotes that are in line with an appropriate social media strategy for your brand. By doing this, you will be able to explain how the requested social media budget will be spent, as well as the underlying rationale of the plan. If hiring an in-house team is not a viable option, look at outsourcing this function. That way you can get the benefit of excellent social media management without the hassle of employing more people. This will save time, effort, money, company resources and other overhead considerations. Read more…
Rands and Sense: Social media has the potential to provide high return on investment. Again, this is both in terms of bottom-line results as well as factors like brand positioning or customer satisfaction. It is an efficient, cost-effective marketing method. A well-executed social media strategy is one that is highly result-driven. This means that funds allocated towards social media should be viewed as an investment in the business, not as an unnecessary expense.
It’s all in the numbers: Most decision-makers are fans of reports and statistics. While traditional marketing does provide some data, social media does not shy away from the numbers and is rich in qualitative and quantitative metrics. Social media platforms are able to provide measurable results, accurate data, comprehensive reports and even information like insight into consumer behaviour and market trends. Emphasise the science behind social media, and how it can improve the business in general – not just marketing tasks. This alone may be the key to winning over the financial gatekeeper.
Re-allocate Marketing Budgets: If your company has budget restrictions and simply cannot increase marketing spend, consider re-allocating existing budgets. Analyse the returns you are receiving from your current marketing platforms (e.g. billboards, television and print). Then look at re-allocating some of these funds to social media activities.
Additional points to support social media investment:
To substantiate your “pitch” for a social media budget, these are some of the additional benefits offered by social media:
> It offers custom audience targeting – meaning that there is little to no wastage on unsuitable consumer segments. This makes it a highly targeted and cost-efficient marketing method.
> It is versatile and supports different media types (image, video, slideshows etc). You can also provide value-rich content (such as tips, articles, insight) in addition to marketing content.
> You can interact directly with your clients as social media supports two-way communication, which is great for improved customer support services.
> In today’s digitally rich business environment, it is imperative that brands have a strong social media presence and are active and agile to respond to comments, queries and complaints which assist in reducing risk for the company.
The key to getting senior decision-makers to invest in social media lies in demonstrating the business value offered by social media. Also, social media is not a passing fad – it is here to stay. Therefore, not being on social media leaves a business at a disadvantage. This is both in terms of competitors, as well as business progression. Social media is no longer a “nice-to-have”, it is a “must have”.
We hope that the above points help with the challenge of getting social media investment – both in terms of finances and interest. For additional insight and advice, get in touch with the Social Media 101 team. We can also assist with effective social media strategy planning and execution, as well as platform management. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
This title may seem unsettling to some since social media is generally seen as an intangible online marketing platform for businesses. Either that or many idle hours spent by employees. The sheer fact that these platforms exist online makes it intangible and furthermore social media being a place, online where people from all around the world connect, post and share is quite an unusual concept when thinking more on it. In the same breath, it is fair to say that social media has disrupted our view of the world and is quite likely to stay. In its intangible force, social media has infiltrated society, media, business and brands and has changed the way we operate as a people in some quite extraordinary ways.
So how do we consider this “social media” as an investment? Let’s unpack this in a little more detail:
Specifically referring to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. For a business, having a page on any of these social media platforms is very much the same as having a dedicated radio channel. Your branded station on social media where you are able to broadcast information about your company and its products or services that is widely available to anyone who may happen upon your page. A business’s social media pages should be viewed as assets and investments and should be secured and treated strategically based on what you want the world to know about your business. Your page is a place to express your brand, and let’s face it, snap judgements are eminent.
Social media is a hub of content ranging from articles, posts, videos and flyers to thoughts, stories and comments. All of this content is tangible, it exists and can be printed or converted onto CD or DVD if the need really arose to have a hard copy. All these content assets can and should be viewed as investments. Content takes time, resources and money to produce where in the ever-expanding world of the internet, this content lives on forever (or at least until the internet ceases to exist – another conversation for another day). Content can be revived and repurposed in varying ways, transformed from an inspired blog article to an opt-in data building strategy. It can be built upon to tell a story, educate and inform and should be seen as time and money well spent. Content forms the basis of your business’s personality and persona online, it is those tangible snippets that give customers a sense of what you have to offer. Content should be considered strategically and with a long-term view in mind, even if it may only be relevant or available in the moment of a fast-paced social media environment.
Your online or social media community is an investment. These people (yes, they are real behind the screen), have taken the time to like, follow or connect with your page. They are interested, in varying degrees, in what you have to offer. These collections of likes should be nurtured and managed as they are very likely to be your customers; past, present or future. Online communities require a person or team to manage them, to talk to them, answer questions and queries while speedily escalating or resolving complaints. Companies invest in well-trained customer call centers and well-groomed receptionist, where social media community managers should be as skilled to be front facing, customer centric, problem solvers. Remember, the conversation will happen online whether you are there or not.
How can a crisis be an investment you ask? This point is more on crisis management which leads on from the closing remark on the last point. The conversation will happen whether you are there to join in or not. Social media effectively exists, even if your business chooses to not engage in it. Customers and people in general have free access to these platforms and can freely comment about your brand or business as they wish. Ensuring your business is invested in a crisis management process could mean the opportunity to address any negative feedback or scandals that could arise. There are also opportunities in such crises where your business could be made aware to blind spots, improving products, services or processes. Social media should be viewed as an investment in the face of a crisis where it provides your brand a platform to explain.
Not just for idle time wasted through news feeds, equipping your employees with tactics and techniques to be first to respond to clients and customers on social media could amplify your brand exponentially. Employee advocacy programs could be implemented by provided pre-curated content to your human assets in supporting your business’s online presence. Through this, customers get an insight into your company culture, you tap into your employee networks and this allows an opportunity to humanise your business online. People still do prefer to do business with people, even though a lot of interaction happens online.
Building relationships with influential people within your business network is imperative. Social media users are still more likely to take recommendations from their network over a brand, meaning that for companies it is an investment to acquire online influence whether through other customers, your employees or paid for influencers relevant in your industry.
As a social media consultancy, we look to assist businesses in driving tangible results through the use of their social media, further proving these strategies to be an investment. Feel free to reach out to discuss this further. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101 – we look forward to hearing from you.
Social media success – does your business have what it takes? Let’s say you need a new accountant or sales manager for your business. You shortlist candidates based on experience, skills and knowledge specific to the position in question. You then choose the best person based on your criteria as well as their proven ability for such a role. Great! Now let’s say you need someone to manage your social media. Do you research and select employees with the same level of scrutiny and detail? Is your business aware of what selection criteria to consider for a social media manager? How would one even measure competency for this role?
For most companies, the ability to perform basic social media tasks such as uploading posts and replying to messages would seem sufficient when hiring. Worse still, many companies assign their social media management to in-house staff members that are not qualified for the role. In our book, this is not just unfortunate, but also decidedly risky. Here’s why:
Risks of not hiring the right team to manage your social media
The risks of leaving your social media management to a junior or non-skilled employee are many and can have serious consequences. These are just some of the problems that occur:
Although seemingly simple, social media is a science and entails a steep, on-going learning curve. Yes, most of us are capable of populating and managing our personal social media pages. However, it is not quite the same when handling a business page or brand online. The impact of a business’s social media presence is far reaching, and involves company staff, clients and stakeholders. Pages should be managed with a great level of maturity, power and responsibility on behalf of the brand. Furthermore, this field is evolving at a rapid pace. Most social media platforms themselves are striving to keep abreast of their own advances to ensure user safety and online integrity. And social media managers need to stay on top of these changes. An effective social media manager needs to have impeccable business acumen, a hunger to constantly learn and upskill, as well as high EQ and risk mitigation abilities in order to protect the brand’s best interest.
Content published via social media (including replies to comments) has the potential of enormous reach, regardless of your page’s audience size. Usually such viral reach occurs in response to something negative or controversial and could even result in a crisis. This power lies with your community manager, so think carefully about who is placed in charge of this impactful public touchpoint. Aside from an actual crisis, a poor quality or poorly handled social media account leads to a negative portrayal of the business. It may even cause serious brand damage. Companies spend large amounts of money on impressive traditional advertising, yet all efforts could be undone by a low quality social media presence. The role of brand sentiment and perception is huge when it comes to consumer decision-making, and should not be taken lightly.
Social media should be used strategically to drive organisational objectives. It is a business tool that provides return on investment when used effectively. Simply putting out posts without any clear strategy does not offer much benefit to the business. It becomes an inefficient use of funds and resources. However, when used correctly, time and money spent on social media becomes an investment that offers tangible business value and boosts growth.
Components for a successful social media presence
To ensure a successful social media presence that offers real business value, you need the following:
- Strategic content planning & execution
- Content (images, videos and text) created by skilled designers & copywriters with in-depth knowledge of social media platforms, rules, specifications, algorithms etc.
- Posts that are both aesthetically pleasing & are structured around customer-centric principles
- Excellent audience targeting
- High quality, responsive community management
- Ability to meet agility & adaptability demands
- Skills to generate, analyse & understand the data behind the platforms
- Keeping abreast of technological advancements & industry trends
- Apps/tools to manage & report on different aspects of activities & campaigns
Practical solution for social media success
Major or global brands have the resources to employ the team needed to achieve all aspects mentioned above. However, most companies lack the resources to hire staff to fulfill all their social media needs. The cost of employing the different specialists required becomes too excessive to be a practical option for many. But yet, a high quality social media presence is becoming increasingly imperative in the current competitive market. The solution is to outsource this function to a social media specialist agency. By doing so, you get the benefit of an entire team, with each person an expert in their specific social media function. You get a digital strategist, community manager & data analyst. You also get designers and copywriters that specialise in creating content for social media. In addition, other needs such as live event coverage, videography, animation, social media legal advice and more form part of the service offering. That’s a great deal – as I’m sure you’ll agree.
If you are ready to take your social media presence to the next level, get in touch with Social Media 101. We provide custom solutions to suit your specific business needs. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media.
Are you unknowingly hurting your brand on social media?
How agile is your marketing strategy?
Some hail social media as the greatest business and marketing tool of all time. Yet others view it as a frivolous concept that has no place in business. Why are there such vastly different opinions when it comes to social media? The answer lies in how different businesses use their social media platforms. Those who use social media effectively as part of their business strategy realise the ROI offered by social media. Others are understandably sceptical – after all, incorrect use of social media is likely to provide limited benefits and questionable returns.
Let’s start with this question – what does YOUR social media do for you? Does it drive sales, or any other primary business goal? Does it provide returns? Do you even get reports so that you can assess the performance of your online activities? If your answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are not alone. On a survey done with business marketing managers regarding their social media:
- Only 20% are referring to the data & using it to measure the performance of their activities
- 36% know that it has a positive impact (qualitatively), but are unable to quantify the benefit in terms of actual numbers
- A whopping 44% have been unable to measure its impact at all
(Statistics courtesy of www.mgadvertising.com)
Social media offers a wealth of benefits for business, and can be used for/to:
- Driving sales (online & instore), as well as generating sales leads
- Building brand awareness & affinity
- As a client-centric customer service point
- Consumer research & audience insight
- Marketing, advertising & promotions as a versatile platform that supports multiple media & messaging types
- Target core market segments with little or no wastage on irrelevant consumer sectors
- Source of accurate statistical data & reporting that can be used to measure returns
…and much more. In fact, social media can be used to promote almost any business objective. BUT only when used correctly.
The components of an effective, social media presence that generates returns include:
- A result-driven, strategic social media plan for all activities, in accordance with business objectives
- Designers & copywriters skilled at creating content for social media. This includes written copy & images that are not only visually appealing, but in line with each platform’s best practices & algorithms
- Targeted content sent to audience segments relevant to the brand
- Platforms & conversations handled by people experienced in both customer service & social media community management
- A social media presence that is agile, responsive & adaptable
- Analysis of business-relevant reports & data to measure the performance of social media activities
- Investing in qualified & experience social media specialists
Accessing the tangible business benefits including ROI offered by social media lies in having an experienced team managing all activities. This includes strategy, content creation, posting, audience targeting and managing the conversation. Unfortunately, most businesses leave this crucial task to unqualified employees. Others hire junior social media staff that lack the necessary skill and experience. Many companies simply don’t have the resources required to employ a team that fulfills all the needs of a high quality social media presence. The solution is to outsource this function to social media specialists. After all, if you want your car repaired, you take it to someone who knows the inner workings of cars, and how to fix them. Taking it to an unskilled person is likely to cause more damage to your vehicle. Well, the same goes for social media. Poorly handled social media activities could cause damage to your brand in the long run.
Should your business require assistance when it comes to tapping into the ROI offered by social media, contact industry experts Social Media 101. We can provide valuable advice and a health audit on your current social media accounts. We also offer custom solutions to meet your business’s social media needs.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
In the current age of information, statistics reign supreme. Organisations rely heavily on data metrics for almost all business processes, from product development to marketing – and everything between. But what if the social media data that you analyse is the wrong kind of data? How would that impact your present business operations and your plans for the future?
What are social media metrics?
Metrics are quantity-based measurable data sets that can be used to provide information on a range of business activities. However, not all data metric types are created equal. Some figures are accurate and indicative while others, although they may be correct, provide irrelevant and/or misleading information. Based on the type of info provided, these data sets fall into two broad categories, namely: Vanity Metrics and Engagement Metrics.
Metrics: Vanity vs. Engagement
Vanity metrics: Vanity metrics are statistics that provide general information, and are usually too broad or vague to have tangible business impact. Figures such as page likes and average user time are examples of vanity metrics. While on the surface theses stats may seem impressive, they don’t actually tell you much about your active client base. For instance, “average time spent” includes the time that your page may be left open for hours by users that have no intention to purchase. But, the bad news doesn’t stop there. As vanity-based records are easily manipulated, the figures you see may be fabricated altogether. This is done by unethical methods such as buying bulk followers. Such followers are not actual people, but rather fake or automated accounts. Unfortunately, the rude awakening for businesses is only likely to arrive when it’s too late.
Engagement Metrics: Engagement metrics are relevant and factual statistics that provide valuable insight into your market. While these numbers are much more conservative that vanity data, engagement metrics are reliable and functional when it comes to practical application within the business environment. It is not only to the type of data, but also the level of detail that engagement metrics offer, that promotes knowledge-based decision making.
Engagement metric sets reflect how real people interact with your brand. Reports can be customised to show only relevant audience sectors in terms of your business’s geographic areas of operation and defined customer criteria. This helps to provide a more realistic indication of your actual consumer market. Furthermore, analysing your engaging audience demographic may reveal additional untapped audience segments to target for expansion. You can can review the success rate of different marketing approaches to maximise the efficiency of future activities. In addition, you can gain access to competitor social media information as well.
Engagement Metrics & Business Strategy
When it comes to business strategy, it is clear that the data type used has a serious impact on the success or failure of a venture. Make certain that the reports provided by your social media team reflect engagement metrics customised for your organisation’s specific requirements. Such statistics need to be critically assessed and interpreted by decision makers. Social media activities should be aligned with your business objectives, and marketing campaigns reviewed to determine return on investment. The analytic tools offered by social media are incredibly valuable, but only if they are used correctly. Tap into the wealth of information offered and reap the rewards that follow.
CLICK HERE to set up a meeting with Social Media 101