Social media is the fastest growing marketing channel.

Forester forecasts that social media marketing will increase over 30% each year over the next 4 years to be worth over $3 billion in the US alone. Many companies, big and small, have already invested in blogs, Twitter & Facebook.

Getting prospects and customers to engage with your brand can provide impressive results. Research from has shown that :

  • 67% of Twitter users who follow a brand are more likely to buy that brands products
  • 60% of Facebook users who ‘like’ a brand are more likely to recommend that brand to a friend
  • 74% of consumers are influenced on buying decisions by fellow ‘socialisers’ after seeking comments via social media

Although some companies have seen good results there is no guarantee that social marketing will deliver cost effective results to everyone.

Social media marketing is ‘free’, isn’t it?

One of the attractions of social marketing media is that it is free to sign up for a Twitter or Facebook or many blog accounts. However, it’s not really free as it takes time and resource to develop and implement a successful social marketing strategy that helps you deliver company objectives with a good return on investment (ROI).

Given that social media marketing requires fresh content posted on a regual basis, who will provide this content? Do you have the expertise in house or do you need to find a social marketing specialist?

Once you decide to invest time and effort in this activity you need to decide how much time, budget & resource to invest. Will you provide additional budget or resources or do less of something else.

Given an unlimited choice of potential marketing activities how do you choose what to do?

Ultimately, you should be choosing to invest in marketing activities that provide the best return on marketing investment. Clearly, this requires some form of objective measurement in order to inform the decision making process.

Digital channels like Google PPC, organic search and email marketing can demonstrate strong returns through tracking and web analytics. With blogs, Facebook & Twitter it’s possible to measure them as a source of visit.

However, it is much harder to measure the long term ‘influencing effect’ of these new social media channels. e.g. someone may read a blog or be a Facebook fan and gradually build up strong consideration for a brand over 3 months before doing a Google search and buying. Superficially, Google would get the credit in this example and the work done by social media over the preceeding 3 months would not get fully credited.

Just because measurement is hard is no excuse to rely on gut feel alone

Without an accurate digital measurement process, it’s likely that the wrong decisions will be made on allocating budgets and resources. The key questions to be addressed are:

Key questions for companies big & small

  • how much time, budget and resources should I allocate to social media marketing?
  • can I supply qood quality fresh content on a regular basis?
  • do I have the right quality resources in house to do this well?
  • does social marketing cost effectively deliver leads, sales & turnover?
  • which channels & campaigns perform best (& worst)?
  • is social media cannabilisng other marketing activities?
  • how do we measure the ROI of social marketing?
  • which segments are most likely to buy as a result of social media marketing?