After a decade of attempting to connect with customers and prove return on investment, brands are still struggling to achieve success with social media marketing and engagement.
What does success look like? For most marketers, success includes anything from raising brand awareness and thought leadership to lead generation.
But how can we develop and curate the right content, post at the most effective times and prove impact? In my experience and from what I hear from our customers, the only way to achieve real success is by using and leveraging data.
Social media marketers can boost their performance and the performance of their campaigns by leveraging the power of data to inform their decision making. Here are six ways to do just that:
- Use the right technology: Choose a social technology that relies on data to increase efficiency, support collaboration and improve workflows. The right tool will allow you to grow your capabilities and activities by adding additional pieces of the suite when digital efforts and priorities shift. You’ll want to be sure the tool can be configured in multiple languages to develop deeper relationships with global customers and that the interface is intuitive, easy to manage and offers the analytics you need. Plus, a simple but visually appealing way to show those analytics is a must (I’ve spent too much time formatting data in the past). In your assessments, make sure you look at how the importance of data has played in to the platform’s development.
- Break the ROI myths: Many marketers struggle to prove ROI because of myths that declare that social impact is unmeasurable. This is not true. You can use data to track consumer behavior that proves the value of social. For example, measure attribution. What motivated the customer to buy? What was the path they took? When did they convert? Social’s impact is an important part of the overall ROI of a campaign and needs to be measured. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible, and the best marketers are doing it today.
- Measure, optimize and succeed: Once again, this is where a data-driven platform will offer performance analytics that are housed and viewed in one dashboard. Data should be available, relevant and understandable so that stakeholders across your organization can visibly see the impact social has on your customers and revenue. Take the same approach you would with measuring and optimizing search, email and other digital channels. Hold social to the same standards as you do everything else.
- Don’t post and pray: Stop playing the content strategy guessing game. Data and machine learning can tell you when and where to post. Brands that follow optimized timing recommendations see an increase in reactions of 17 percent on Facebook and 4 percent on Twitter. If you have the right tool, an auto-scheduler can automatically pick the best time to publish, eliminating guesswork and increasing post performance.
- Go beyond perceived influence: Don’t rely on perceived influence. Just because your audience follows a celebrity doesn’t make that celebrity the right influencer for your brand. Data can drill down to reveal who the true influencers for your brand are and allow you to hone in on what your customers’ interests and areas of expertise are. It will also show you how they like to engage so you can craft the right message for the right audience at the right time. Social influence and expertise tools, such as Klout Data, use machine learning to identify relevant trending topics, subject matter experts, profiles and influence scores for you.
- Understand your customer in every dimension: Your brand’s audience is not just your customers. It’s every single person who touches or interacts with your brand: customers, employees, vendors, affiliates. Think of this as your “total community.” When you take a total community approach, you’ll identify and enlist the help of every stakeholder and include them in your approach to how customers will be engaged. You can co-create the customer experience and then scale it to apply to every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey. Data will provide the depth of insight you need to see your total community holistically and empower you to craft truly personalized social engagement strategies.
The right data will make your work more efficient and effective and boost your performance by giving you an edge in social engagement, strategy and interactions. Now more than ever, leveraging data is essential to ensure the actions you take result in delighted customers and better performance reviews for you.
Dayle Hall is vice president of marketing for social customer-service management provider Lithium Technologies.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.