Social can be one of the most challenging platforms for brands to measure return on investment. Companies that grew up on traditional advertising and metrics often have trouble making sense of the value of the online ecosystem. But with 52% of U.S. consumers using the web as their primary purchase tool, it's an area brands can't afford to ignore.
Last week the commenting and social curation platform Livefyre hosted an evening chat with a handful of influential analysts, marketers and publishers, sharing thoughts on need-to-know ROI growth tools. It's a formula Forrester Senior Analyst Kim Celestre calls "social depth," a fancy phrase for discovering, exploring and engaging with online consumers, eventually leading those conversations back to brands' websites.
Here's the social depth formula broken down into five, easy tips.
User-generated content, blog posts, videos, tweets and chatter are all over the web. Harnessing the power of brand advocates, addressing customer concerns and fixing problems empowers participation. It's easier to put out a fire than it is to ignore it.
People want to interact and create relationships with brands online. Catering to those fans via product giveaways, social interaction and real replies separate the companies that get it from the ones still in the dark.
"The consumer is boss, so we have to match that," explains Andrew Backs, P&G's manager for global business development. "Look for solutions to unlock the consumer voice."
2. Be Authentic
You can't fake it online, says Sid Shuman, who runs social media for Sony Playstation. "They can smell that a mile away."
The same die-hard brand advocates championing your product will be the first to call out shady behavior or content that doesn't reflect brand culture. When in doubt, ask your community for help when it comes to content. Shuman suggests crowdsourcing content for in-house interview and articles. Because they live and breathe the brand, fans "come up with better questions that we could any day," he says.
3. Keep Content Premium
Hitting "publish" is social suicide if the material isn't quality. Take advantage of Wordpress, Tumblr and social media to craft strong messages. Know the rules and follow them: Every network requires a specific approach and language (tweets are written differently than Facebook posts).
Stick to a calendar for posting, and focus on making followers feel part of the brand's family. Using platforms solely as selling tools quickly alienates customers. Hire professionals—and fight the urge to turn sites into content farms or automate feeds.
Peter Yared, CBS Interactive's CTO/CIO suggests using your sites to curate and amplify positive content about your company. "Find the interesting content that’s being posted and use it to bring value to your audience."
4. Integrate Real-Time Apps
Incorporate social into every aspect of what you do, says Jordan Kretchmer, Livefyre's founder and chief executive. Kretchmer's company reports 88% of businesses using Twitter feeds, comments, ratings and reviews on homepages increases user engagement. Forty-two percent boosted their average time on site.
It may sound painfully simple, but adding these tools are the equivalent of a restaurant showing off a top health code letter grade. It empowers consumers to interact and share content. Plus, constant updating improves search engine visibility much more than static pages.
Nothing risked is nothing gained, especially when it comes to social. Fail and see what works. Test tone, style and new monetizing tools, such as native advertising, which serves sponsored content, tweets and Facebook stories. eMarketer reports 73% of U.S publishers now offer some form of native advertising. But be careful: This hot topic still often fails to hook users, as do most click-bait attempts.
Did we miss something? Engage with us and share your tips in the comments below.