After digging around on the internet I found this infographic which posed a series of unanswered questions about Social Media. Since we're all relatively new to these platforms I figured i'd share what i've learned about Social Media Marketing, and how I've leveraged brands through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
- How do I measure Social Media ROI?
- What are the best Social Media marketing practices?
- How do I best manage my time with Social Media?
- How do I reach my target markets with Social Media?
- How do I generate traffic and leads using Social Media?
- How do I implement Social Media tactics?
- What are the latest Social Media trends?
- How do I get started?
- How do I integrate my Social Media activities?
- How do I evaluate the advantages and disdavantages of each platform?
1. How do I measure Social Media ROI?
This seems to be the ultimate question that companies want answered first and foremost. It's the old business adage that expects a cookie cutter formula to spit out how Social Media will make money. In reality, Social Media has a very large non-financial impact that traditional ROI typically doesn't take in to consideration.
A non-financial impact could be a click-through, an impression, or simply a fan "Liking" a Facebook post. Social Media ROI is all about being able to leverage a brand to create influence. Recently, Oreo made a successful attempt to get the most Facebook "Likes" on a post with 114,619 likes, and within 24 hours the rapper Lil Wayne was able to crush that record with his own post that tallied 588,243 likes. Lil Wayne was clearly able influence nearly 3% of his 20,000,000+ fan base through Facebook.
Now Lil Wayne's post may not directly calculate to the bottom line, but it does illustrate one extreme of which brands can leverage fans in to action.
I think Rick Bakas summarizes the new ROI eloquently in his post "What Makes A Good New Media Strategist":
"The idea of what ROI looks like is evolving into something affected by time and impressions because new media (or anything digital) exists forever. A YouTube video today could actually lead to sales in 2016."
So how do you calculate Social Media ROI? well, each market is different, and it can be tricky to find what works for you, but the best way is to establish a baseline. Set a date and make it your duty to track what posts get Liked and ReTweeted. Measure your website's analytics, look at your Facebook insights, and gauge your popularity on Twitter (I'd recommend twittercounter & Klout). Try new things, and when you begin to see Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube become top referring websites then you'll know you've begun to get traction in Social Media.
Once your traffic from Social Media increases then its time to start looking at your revenue and transactions. Compare those metrics before and after the baseline and if there's growth then there's your ROI. Oliver Blanchard has a great slide show illustrating this point here.
If you're new to Facebook and Twitter just remember one thing: follower count is no measure of influence so don't be dissuaded by competitors massive fan counts. It's all about engaging and influencing your market share. I'd rather have 500 die hard fans than 5,000 flexible ones.
2. What are the best Social Media marketing practices?
Each beast is different, Facebook and YouTube are about sharing the experience while Twitter is like a chartroom; if your message isn't ReTweeted within an hour then you might as well consider that Tweet dead.
That being said, marketing can be tricky depending on how friendly your industry is to Social Media, but the best practices are simply listening, assessing, and reacting; especially on Twitter. Use a Twitter app like Tweetdeck, or Hootsuite, and organize lists of the most important players, influencers, and hashtags in your industry, and watch those lists develop throughout the day.
Find out what people are talking about and get in to the conversation, once you're there you'll be able to influence what people are saying.
3. How do I best manage my time with Social Media?
That's completely dependent on you, your job position, and how much influence you want to have with Social Media. Some say 15 minutes a day will do the trick, but if you want to be a true Social Media wizard then your accounts will require 24hour attention. Now this may be unrealistic for most, so if you can't sit in front of a computer all day watching Twitter like the NYSE then the best thing to do is spread your Social Media workload across multiple people and devices.
When I managed a small #airsoft retail store it was hard for me to stay on top of Twitter throughout the day with all the other daily tasks at hand. So I would have Tweetdeck or Twitter.com open on each computer in the store so I could catch up on the conversation whenever possible.
The best way to track relative conversations when "offline" is through a smartphone. I set my Droid to notify me whenever my account was mentioned or when important lists were active.
Now if you're running multiple accounts this can be a little tricky, but fortunately Tweetdeck's mobile app will allow multiple Twitter accounts without any fees (yet), so this might be your best bet for account management.
4. How do I reach my target markets with Social Media?
So you've established the basic accounts, a Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (For those without a camera: mobile video uploads are just as powerful and drive authenticity), now what? Assuming you have less than 100 fans on Facebook/YouTube then I would say the best way to gain traction is through Twitter.
Why Twitter? because there are no barriers in the Twittersphere, there's no need for anyone to "like" each other to communicate. Everything is out there and can be accessed by anyone else (with a few exceptions), so this means you can get out there and converse with your market quickly and easily.
Let's say you run a shoe store, all you have to do to get started is to make a list that follows the hashtag #shoes, and it might be smart to follow #running and other related contexts. Next you should find shoe manufacturers, reviewers, and influencers to converse with; if you can't find them on Twitter then go to Google. Voila! you're now in the mix, now just watch for ReTweets and then follow those people that are being ReTweeted, converse with them, make friends, get known.
Once you get some street cred then you can start pushing your followers to your Facebook page and YouTube channel, just be sure you've got good content to share.
5. How do I generate traffic and leads using Social Media?
Generating traffic and leads with Social Media is more or less dependent on what platform your market is most friendly to. Going back to the #airsoft store, I've noticed that the majority of players converse on Facebook/YouTube and are not very active on Twitter, but the reverse is true for Metal Toad Media which drives a large portion of traffic from Twitter. I assume that this is the case because the airsoft industry is young and likes to share rather than converse.
Once you find the platform that your market is using then look at how you can get involved. Let's say your industry isn't very active on Twitter, but is on Facebook; first off don't give up on Twitter - start the conversation and get the ball rolling, you'll become the authority.
The first thing to do on Facebook is go out and find other related industry leaders, bloggers, and communities and "Like" their pages. Once you do that click "add to my pages favorites" underneath their profile picture, this will add their profile picture under your "Likes" box, hopefully by doing this they'll reciprocate the favor.
Now it's time to talk to these other influencers, to do this simply tag (@nameOfAccount) them in a post. The tag in Facebook is similar to Twitter, but not quite, the difference is that when you tag someone your post ends up on their wall. By doing this you expose your fan page to a whole other set of fans that may not have known you to exist. Now there are certain implications and etiquette when tagging on Facebook, you don't want to get a reputation for being a spammer so be sure to use this feature sparingly; Mari Smith has a great article on Facebook tagging etiquette here.
Personally, I've found the best way to tag others on Facebook is to make and share content that fans on other pages might find useful; or to share pages with your fans they might find useful. Recently, Facebook updated fan pages to allow page admins to "use" Facebook as the fan page itself. This functionality only goes as far as to posting and conversing on other fan pages, but it's another great tool to expose your brand on Facebook.
Once you establish yourself on multiple mediums then your website traffic will naturally increase from Social Media.
6. How do I implement Social Media tactics?
It's about being versatile and flexible, you need to think like a Ninja and be quick on your toes because Social Media can roundhouse you in the face when you're not looking. So be ready to listen, assess, and react because one voice can throw poo in to the fan just as easily as the next.
The best way to avoid that roudhouse is to have access; without access to the conversation you might as well take a seat and let everyone else do the talking. Use the tools available to you and think about unique ways to manipulate them to your advantage.
7. What are the latest Social Media trends?
Well, what I say now will be outdated by the time you read this, but Twitter has a great feature on the home page that simply says "Trends" which will give you some decent insight to what's popular. By default it's set to "Worldwide", but you can change it geographically if you wish.
Another great way to find niche trends is to use search.twitter.com, this tool has some advanced functionality that can really narrow down your search; this plus trendsmap.com will really break down what's trending in your area.
8. How do I get started?
Goto Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and create accounts. If you don't have time to create the accounts, you should probably be working with a professional firm (like ours!)
9. How do I integrate my Social Media activities?assuming the question means integrating Social Media platforms together:
That depends, if you're active on Twitter then you shouldn't auto update your Facebook page with your Tweets. Posting on Facebook is touchy, and a good rule of thumb is 3-5 times a week, but once your audience gets more familiarized with you then a daily post could be acceptable. Just be sure to watch your feedback and your data. If you notice that 5 fans leave on a certain day, and that correlates to umpteen posts on that day, then maybe you're posting to much.
If integrating is something you want to do then Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all have options to integrate posts with each other; so find out which combinations work best for you. Typically I find it safe to auto update your Twitter and Facebook pages with your YouTube account and that's all
10. How do I evaluate the advantages and disavantages of each platform?
Evaluation starts with research, get on Google and start searching your industry and digging in to the niche communities. Find out what people talking about and how they're sharing it, because they are, you just need to find out through what medium.
Once you find that medium then you can evaluate its advantages and disadvantages. If it's a conversation driven medium then you'll know your posts have to be quick, concise, and relative (quantity > quality). If it's about sharing then you'll have to invest in content creation that can be shared in the community (quantity < quality).
In the end it's all about flexibility and organization. Our worldwide society is undergoing a massive shift in to the age of information, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of content that's out there. That's why it's good to have filters in place to help digest relative information. Otherwise you'll be blazing trails blindly and in the end lose both time and money.