Friday, 15 July 2011

Lots of followers are great, but do they really signify Social Media success?

It's amazing how often marketing activities are conducted without having a way of measuring their effectiveness. Any other spend in business is usually informed by the return on investment, but with marketing, many just hand over the money and hope for the best. This in turn causes these budgets to be cautious and limited, as it's virtually impossible to discern their value.

A simple example of this would be when a business places an advert in a newspaper. They include their usual contact details, and unless they ask every person who gets in touch, they have no way of knowing whether it was the advert that brought them. In this instance, contact details unique to the advert or including a promo code, would indicate where the prospects came from and assess whether the ROI was worthwhile.

Here at eskimosoup, we've always had campaign measurement at the forefront of our process. It's essential that our clients see where their money goes and gain real world benefits as a result.

We use various techniques to achieve this, but when an entirely new marketing method emerges, a whole new set of techniques comes with it. This is very much the case with Social Media, possibly the most powerful and ground breaking tool to become available to marketers for years.

But those techniques are far from immediately obvious. In reality, Social Media is still in it's infancy and marketers are still developing effective ways of measuring it's impact. As the medium is more about establishing and maintaining relationships, rather than direct sales, this can be a tricky prospect.

An article over at Marketing Week highlights this difficulty, with Social Media expert Brian Solis claiming many brands are failing to set the right objectives for success. Rather than the return being simply sales, it's more "action, reaction and transactions", with the engagement and conversations being important, but not in and of themselves. They have to lead to a bottom line benefit for the business.

Having the fan numbers and good interaction are cause for celebration in a Social Media campaign, but shouldn't be the final result. They're a means to an end, which will always be more business for the company. A good Social Media campaign should never lose sight of this and have those bottom line benefits as key goals and objectives.

This what we bring to Aerial Extreme with the Social Media campaign we run on their behalf. Focused around a facebook page, we've certainly increased fan numbers and interaction massively since we took on the project, but these have only been the foundations. This provides us with an active, enthusiastic and fully engaged audience that we can then move onto the next level with.

That next level is encouraging as much of that audience to visit the six Aerial Extreme high rope adventure courses dotted around the country. We do this in the main through competitions, incentives and special offers, with that old technique of promo codes and dedicated contact details to measure response.

And the response has been great, with increased footfall bringing those bottom line benefits and demonstrating the all important return on investment. When all's said and done, that's the only true measure of success in Social Media and if your campaign doesn't have that, it's time to think again.

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