5 Ways to Optimize Social Media ROI
There's a battle raging for the control of e-commerce. On one side are retailers looking to increase market share, accelerate revenue, grow brand affinity and increase customer lifetime value. On the other side are consumers who want to be empowered, increase connectedness, find relevant products, receive feedback from peers, and have interactive and entertaining experiences online.
At the Direct Marketing Association's Annual Conference & Exhibition last week in San Diego, I led a session where I discussed how the rapid advance of social media has given the edge to consumers, putting them in firm control. The good news for retailers is that this isn’t necessarily bad. By leveraging customers, not just the platform, retailers can still reach their goals.
Social media consists of online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with each other. The most leveraged forms of social media include blogs, ratings and reviews, message boards, and social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube.
During the DMA session, I identified several social media tactics that online retailers can implement to boost loyalty and sales:
- Tightly integrate and elevate the exposure of social content and/or social networking links on your website. Showcase your social network links in global navigation, and provide “share this” functionality on your product pages.
- Increase the visibility of ratings and reviews in merchandising creative, directory/product listing pages and as part of global navigation.
- Add self-service capabilities to allow consumers to help themselves and each other. Monetize your video content distribution via social networking sites, such as YouTube, by integrating functionality that allows customers to purchase products directly from the video (e.g., www.qoof.com or www.liveclicker.com).
- Stay actively engaged on social networking sites (e.g., Facebook and MySpace) with postings about new products, events and exclusive promotions. Sur La Table is a great example of a merchant that's actively engaged with its customer base through Facebook (www.facebook.com/SurLaTable).
Here are five steps to help your company create a social media strategy:
1. Establish corporate alignment, needed resources and a dedicated social marketing budget. This includes setting proper expectations about creating stronger relationships and driving customers down the brand-engagement funnel. Social media can move prospects from being unaware to brand opportunists, brand enthusiasts and, finally, brand advocates.
2. Know your market segment, and understand your customers’ preferred social behaviors.
3. Commit to clear objectives in key areas:
- Listen: Use social technologies for research to better understand your customers.
- Talk: Use social technologies to join the conversation about your company and products.
- Support: Set up social tools such as forums and wikis to help your customers support each other.
- Energize: Use social technologies to supercharge customer word-of-mouth.
- Embrace: Integrate customers into the way your business works, including using their help to design products and improve your processes.
4. Create a road map for implementing social media based on customer needs, corporate objectives and return on investment. Start small with quick wins like product ratings and reviews, blogging, and “Share this” functionality throughout your site.
5. Establish a means to track and measure success. Use social analytics to gauge key metrics such as conversation volume, sentiment and favorability, topics of conversation, ratings, favorites, friends and followers, and pass-alongs.
A well-built social media strategy will meet the needs of your target market, and you'll be able to win — along with consumers — on the e-commerce battlefield.