Making the case for social media's marketing value

The hot topic of day two of Social Media Week London was ‘proving the value of social’.

The Building a Business Case for Social panel by Weber Shandwick addressed the ever-evolving nature of social and the challenge it poses for businesses. With new products, platforms and capabilities constantly emerging, it can be difficult for brands to remain focused on their core social media strategy. To combat this, the panel concluded brands always need to keep their main business objectives front of mind and to mitigate for the distractions that shiny new platforms or products might cause.

Attention is on social

As time spent on mobile devices continues to grow, the influence of social media on consumers is becoming greater. As discussed at the Marketing in the Age of Shifting Attention SMW session yesterday, ‘the phone is the new TV and social networks are the channels’. However, the challenge for marketers is helping brands understand this behavioural shift and encourage them to redistribute investment from more traditional media.

Data

Not only does social have more of consumers’ attention, it’s also supported with massive amounts of data. Social media platforms have vast targeting capabilities, allowing brands to reach users based on specific interests, purchasing habits, earning potential, demographics and more. This allows brands to position the right messages in front of the right audiences at the right time. As Marcus Dyer, managing director of Flipside, put it, "who targets best, wins". Not only do marketers collect meaningful data from these platforms, they have the opportunity to act on it, learning and optimising in real time.

Business efficiencies

This morning’s panel also highlighted that businesses are now able to manage and connect a global brand’s social presence within a single platform. This connectivity enables more sophisticated testing, greater insight and great ease-of-use. For example, creative that performed well in Australia can be easily promoted to users in Japan. Data and insights from worldwide activity can be aggregated and analysed in real time. Ultimately, these platforms can streamline global processes and operations and drive efficiencies.

Measurement

Last but not least are the ever-evolving measurement capabilities on social. No longer should marketers only talk about clicks and engagements. With native and third party tracking, we can now see the whole consumer journey, from awareness at the top of the funnel, to key business metrics such as conversions, sales and ROI. As Dyer noted, "we’re in marketing utopia: we can finally use data to connect what we’re doing on social to business outcomes." Unfortunately, there’s still some ambiguity when proving social ROI for brands who do not have an established retail site, online service, or app with the necessary tracking tools.

The final words of advice to marketers building a business case for social are simple: when you’re pitching social, always keep in mind what the client’s business objectives are and how they can be translated into social objectives. Don’t concentrate solely on clicks and engagements, but think about ways to measure business metrics such as conversions, sales and ROI.

Sky Jusaityte is senior social executive at Socialyse

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Sky Jusaityte

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