To increase the sales and efficiency businesses match with all tools available in the Internet. From the very beginning it was contextual advertising and SEO, than media advertising and special projects, and than SMM tools appeared.
However, SMM result cannot be calculated by impressions or clicks as opposed to the former tools. The value of online reputation management and promotion in social media is usually complex. Although it increases sales performance and sometimes is even the only sales source however, the influence of Social Media Marketing is not direct like in PPC (clicks lead to calls) but with certain intermediate result. This causes the greatest difficulty in developing success and effective SMM strategy.
Expectations of clients may be the most diverse:
• Loyal customers;
• New sales channels;
• Additional sales in addition to current clients;
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• Higher average bill;
• Repeated sales;
• Positive reputation (including the reputation of recruitment department);
• Keeping potential customers;
• Sales on the recommendations, etc.
At the same time, their recourse may be caused by some sort of a problem. Here is the list of the most frequent ones:
1. The attempts to influence public opinion turned into a disturbance wave (Black Public Relations):
● A dramatic example of such situation is a “Duckbill” company – one day several bloggers wrote alike posts about Duckbill services and how they liked a shop. Naturally, this wave of activity has been noticed and it caused rush of indignation and ironies. “Duckbill” name became appellative in advertising industry as an example of unsuccessful advertising campaign;
● We have also heard about the clients who offered to massively flood the networks forums in a month with discussions and comments recommending their goods. In situations like that it is necessary to imagine what is so special in goods that may make all the people simultaneously come online and write positive feedbacks. There is almost nothing like this and so this is a very dangerous strategy which may ruin the reputation of your client.
2. Budgets are not justified:
● For example, a client insists on being present in all possible social networks. He creates and promotes accounts in four networking sites, invests but doesn’t see the return on investment. At this point it is important to understand that SMM services are not a direct sales channel. These are the tools that help to increase the sales, but do not directly provide them. That is why the share of SMM in a budget may be the part of expenses on advertising and a client should understand what he gets at the end.
3. It seems to work but we do not see what it gives us:
● If a client hasn’t formulated for himself why did he actually need SMM and hasn’t agreed on efficiency criteria with SMM services provider than he would necessarily come up with a question “What do I get from SMM and why do I pay it?”. The work is effective only in case when you get what you expect to get.
Step #1. Do you need SMM?
To begin with SMM you need to understand whether you really need it. Despite of the fact that almost any kind of audience may be found in the Internet, not all business spheres are in equal conditions when it comes to audience interests.
Below is the list of those who primarily need SMM in our opinion:
• Popular brands;
• Products related to sport, health, beauty (manufacturers or big dealers);
• Products for children (manufacturers or big dealers);
• Expensive goods – when seller’s reputation matters a lot (cars, traveling);
• Big online shops;
• Online shops selling chips.
Furthermore, we advice SMM to those who consider big money investing in advertising.
Step #2. Can you afford SMM?
1. Conversion site. SMM will either deliver traffic to your site or improve its quality. In both cases your website must be ready to convert this traffic into sales. There must be contact form on the website, customers must be able to make a purchase or make calculations, check prices or order a call back. Check your website possibilities to directly get in touch with a client. If there are only one or two of such possibilities than you’d better spend on on-site audit or redesign before spending money on SMM. You will get an immediate effect in sales.
2. Analytics system. To be able to see the campaigns results and analyze them you need analytics system (Google Analytics is the first thing that comes to mind). It is important not only to set it up but also to set the goals and Ecommerce if you run online shop. Goals show you the percent of users who completed the set conditions – goal completions). For example: 3 visited pages, more than 3 minutes spent on a site, contact form pressed, call back ordered, items put in a basket, paid order, etc. You are the one who determines the goals. Just do not try to make huge amount of goals because you are going to have difficulties while performing analysis. The optimal number of goals is three.
3. Awell-defined goal. It is too early to talk about KPI; you just need to decide on what your company will receive from SMM: solution of problems with reputation, attracting loyal audience, brand support, or something else. If you are going to order SMM just because everybody does it than we advice you to order on-site audit first to understand if you have problems with clients’ communication, and if there are any problems – to understand how to solve them.
4. Budget. Decide on a budget you are ready to spend on SMM. You need to keep in mind that having appeared once in social media it will be quite inconvenient for you to leave them. First couple of months the audience just gets involved and there is no big benefit. What budget to spend on PR? Usually we advice to spend not more than 25% from what you spend on advertising and SEO. Certainly, this is not a general-duty rule. For example, brand may spend on PR a much higher percentage of expenses. But this rule may be used as a guide for businesses that look for their clients in the Internet.
Step #3. Choose the platform
Now when we know what we want and how much we are ready to spend on this we need to choose the platform for works. To work everywhere means spending efforts and budget in vain, as well as low efficiency on each particular platform. Below are several advices on how to choose the most promising platform for promotion:
- Analyze your auditory, its basic characteristics, interests, indirect signs you can find it by, habits, particularities.
- Compare it with general data known about social networking sites. For example, Vkontakte has its own public page with auditory statistics available. The similar data about other networking sites may be found.
- The choice of primary platforms pool depending on a goal. Remember the goal you have set. For example, if you need to level the negative you need to choose platforms with negative. In case you need to get feedback from target audience you need to choose popular thematic portals and groups.
- Checking by statistics. Check where organic traffic comes to your site from and what the quality of this traffic is. If you are choosing between two networking sites and one of them already delivers the traffic to your site we advice you to choose that one already working for you because you are already known there.
- Competitor analysis. What are the social networking sites your competitors are most popular in? They have more active groups with more participants, and they are more written about. If they invest in a certain networking site with active networkers than that social networking site works for you.
Step #4. Choose the tools
After we decided on a platform or the number of platforms we need to choose the tools to work with. For a start, it is not necessary to invest the whole budget into promotion. We spent a lot of time to choose the right platform and are able to save even more in case we test it and check if it is really up to the challenge.
To do this we measure in statistics the current traffic and its quality. We carry out the test. Test is a low cost way to establish an on-line presence. For example, you can run a poll or post in a popular group of a similar topic, to start targeted advertising or spread the information about interesting specials on the site. The variants depend on your expectations (likes, shares, comments, etc.).
After testing we analyze the results received and accept the decision whether to continue working with a chosen platform or not (whether we are satisfied with results) and what tools to use.
Step #5. Determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
At this point it’s high time to choose specific KPIs according to which we will determine the success of our promotion actions.
What KPIs should be:
- They must be measured in numbers.
- There must be specific and independent tools or techniques that will give us that numbers. These may be: website statistics, platforms statistics, independent programs collecting the statistics information, search engines results, queries statistics. Empirical knowledge does not count.
- They must accord with our Goal.
We should keep in mind there are tactical and strategic effects. Tactical effect can be measured in numbers. Strategic effect is determined by a goal.
Check the examples of some KPIs and their measurement and analyzing techniques.
Sales growth through recommendations
● The percent of positive feedbacks more than 70% in TOP 20 search engines results page;
● Constant discussing of product and client on 20 popular portals of similar topic; recommendations and advices are given, at least one link from each site leading to our site.
● No less than 15% presence on SERPs by target queries – exterior information with a client recommendation.
Measurement and analyzing:
• Website statistics (growth of returning visitors, increase of organic traffic and its quality, referrals);
• Organic results (the percent of exterior positive information about a client, percentage ratio of positive and negative on forums);
• Platforms statistics (rating of popular portals of a certain subject, traffic ranking of thematic forums).
Managing account in social media
Sales growth thanks to new audience from social networking sites;
Increase in an average bill (additional sales).
• More active participants;
• Follow ups growth;
• Growth of referral traffic from a group;
• Improvement of traffic quality;
• Increase in number of natural recommendations.
Measurement and analyzing:
• Website statistics (growth of referral traffic, appearance of visitors returning from account, slow improvement of traffic quality);
• Platforms statistics (increase of audience activity, likes growth, views, growth of the number of participants in competitions and polls, growth of comments and natural reviews).
Promotion on social media
Sales growth at cost of new sales channels;
Reduction of an offer price.
KPI (depends on a tool and statistics’ capabilities):
• Targeted audience coverage (on social networking sites, blogs, portals);
• Number of impressions, clicks, subscribers;
• Number of active users visiting a group for the first time;
• Number of conversions;
• Cost per impression, click, subscriber;
• Cost per sale or cost per goal completion.
Measurement and analyzing:
• Website statistics (number of clicks through, traffic quality, number of conversions by goals or by Ecommerce, cost per sale or conversion into a goal);
• Platform statistics (coverage, clicks, cost per impression, cost per click, per subscriber);
• Account statistics (number of subscribers, audience activity while first visiting a group).
Step #6. Count KPI at month-end, analyze the dynamics results
It is essential to analyze the characteristics mentioned above from month to month. You may set your sights on scheduled KPI to have something to go by. But in this case you need to take into account initial parameters and PR tools capabilities while working in a “Do not harm” mode. For example, you are able to get 70% of organic results in a week if required. But this statistics most likely will have the reverse effect (social networkers’ indignation) and may require even more efforts and resources to fix the problem.
Step #7. Make adjustments to work
You need to always keep in mind your final goal is and your KPI when working with SEO and SMM. Always make adjustments to your actions in accordance with them.
• Assess and make corrections to certain actions on a daily basis (wording in texts, posts selection);
• Adjust the KPI plan monthly;
• Check with a goal and adjust a plan of activities once a quarter.
SMM will be efficient once it is under budget and our expectations correspond to real gains.
Moreover, plan your SMM activity with respect to your web promotion complex. Use SMM as additional Internet marketing tool. We pay particular attention to this.