As a marketing guru, you have experience spending money to advertise on social media channels. In fact, eMarketer estimates that marketing teams spent around $33 billion in 2016 on social media ads. Advertising on social media networks has become one of the most common practices in a modern marketing strategy. Yet, according to a study by the Incyte Group, the return on investment from social media ad spending “has been dismal”. (Incyte Group Whitepaper) In order to make sure you are getting your money’s worth, here is a three-step strategy you can employ to make sure you are getting the maximum return on your social media investment.
Step 1 – Create a Branded Online Community
The first step you can take to boost the impact of your social media investment is to launch your own branded online community. Ideally, your community will have a social publishing tool or some other form of integration to social media. The reason this is important is because the majority of your audience is already on social media and you want to use social media as the top of the funnel back into your community. Creating a branded customer community is not an either/or decision, you should use both as complements to each other!
Based on research of consumer’s preferences for these types of communities, you should also look for content targeting capabilities in your community. This is important so that you can deliver the most relevant content to users in a timely manner. The Incyte Group identified several other key characteristics that users found important in branded communities as detailed in the image below.
Step 2 – Use Branded Communities to Make Your Website or App More Social
As the Incyte Group study shows, websites still matter. In fact, 89.3% of the consumers they polled stated that a brand’s website is the primary destination they go to for purchasing decisions. Think about the last time you found out about an awesome new product. Where did you search for it? Did you pull up that brand’s Facebook page or did you go to the brand’s website to learn more? Adding a community to your website or mobile app helps increase the time spent on your site by providing a familiar social network experience to complement important product information.
“Consumers don’t want brand relationships to be a part of their open social networks; instead they want company Websites to be more like their experiences with open social networks.” – The Incyte Group
When evaluating branded community providers, it is important to find a solution that can easily integrate with your existing site and/or mobile app. This will increase accessibility to your community and create a seamless customer experience as consumers shuffle between your community and your website.
Step 3 – Leverage Your Community to Create Brand Advocates
Customer referrals are one of the more powerful marketing tools for developing new business. There’s a reason that most people use Yelp before selecting a restaurant; we want to know if people had positive or negative experiences at that restaurant before spending our time and money there. The same idea works for your product. Potential customers want to know what your current customers think about your product. In fact, here’s what a recently conducted Nielsen’s Harris Poll found about the value of a customer referral:
- 82% of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase.
- 67% of consumers say they’re at least a little more likely to purchase a product after a friend or family member shared it via social media or email.
- 92% of 18-to-34 year-olds say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a product purchase — 10% greater than the general population.
As consumers are constantly looking for recommendations from friends and family on their purchasing decisions, it is critical to employ a branded community to cultivate your own brand ambassadors. According to the Incyte Group’s study, around 82% of community members would be willing to be brand advocates in some form. Take advantage of this incredible resource at your disposal!
What Features Should You Look For?
Now that you know you can use community members as brand advocates, you may be wondering what features in a community platform you should be looking for to build your team of advocates. As you evaluate community platforms for your social media investment strategy, the Incyte Group identified several key features you should look for:
- Track consumer activity and behavior through analytics to identify potential advocates
- Display advocate content when it is relevant
- Create special recognition for advocates (such as badges) to reward them for their participation
- A way for advocates to share community content with their broader social networks
Hopefully, this has helped you get a better idea of how you can start to increase the ROI of your social media investment. Clearly, it is important to build your social media presence, but that presence needs to be supplemented by an infrastructure that will allow you to maximize the value of your audience. Creating a branded online community is a major step you can take to build that social media infrastructure.
For more information on how you can start building your branded community, contact one of the dedicated team members at Memeni.