“Realistic is a really big word,” Rachel Yeomans (pictured here), a principal at the SIPA member consulting firm Astek, told me this morning. “Being realistic about your resources, knowing what are your resources.”
The topic we were discussing was social media. I was looking at a chart that eMarketer posted this week on social media effectiveness. The chart shows a list of tactics with a percentage of the people who use them. Next to it is a percentage of “effectiveness.”
For instance, although about 75% of people put Facebook buttons and links on their website and marketing emails, only about 40% deem them effective. Whereas while only 34% publicly answer customer service questions on Facebook, 69% feel that it is effective. For Twitter, just 27% publicly answer customer service question but 60% deem it effective. It seems like one person’s question could be that of many, so being public with your answer could build engagement and loyalty.
“Customer service can be huge,” Yeomans agreed. But she is more concerned about an overall strategy. The best thing you can do is get information from your audience, she said. What platform(s) are they on? What do they look to get out of social media? How do they use it?
“This way you’re not shooting in the dark and then getting frustrated and disappointed. It’s a much better way to be confident about your decisions. ‘Nobody [in my audience] is on Twitter so we’ll focus on the blog. They’re looking for us to be a content provider and share that on LinkedIn.’ [Your approach should be] based on what your audience is. That will then define who you are as a company [social media-wise] and the audience you’re trying to reach.”
The eMarketer chart emphasizes the importance of providing valuable content. “Offering FAQs and how-tos also had low usage rates among marketers, but at least half of respondents from each group found this effective,” they wrote. Overall, 58% of respondents post regularly on social media, and 67% believe that basic tactic to be effective. (99% asked how do you find the time—just kidding.) The 9% differential on that is the least among the 16 catgeories.
The highest effectiveness (70%) came from “product or prize giveaways on Facebook (Like required)” which makes sense and goes along with what I wrote yesterday about the growing power of gamification. Also, contests and individual questions (that get answered) give consumers the opportunity to form a “one-on-one” relationship with you—which is huge in today’s rather cold climate. It “makes them feel like they aren’t just another number,” wrote eMarketer. “And continuing to develop those bonds ensures quality fans stick around—and helps marketers accomplish their social goals.”
Astek may take as long as a month to interview people, send out surveys, go through lists—“just a month of pure research and strategy,” Yeomans said. Only at that point will they implement the next social media steps. “It’s very hard to negate information [acquired in that way].”
eMarketer agreed that it takes time to be successful at social media. “Though throwing a Facebook or Twitter button on a website may be easy, cheap and common, respondents…didn’t find this nearly as effective as tactics requiring a little more effort and interaction—suggesting that quality content leads to quality results.”
Yeomans said that if all goes well, social media can become an operations process like other parts of your company. What is the most informed plan? What are your goals? How will you measure success? Answer those questions, and you can take action.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 as managing editor. Follow Ronn on Twitter at @SIPAOnline