By Victoria Ransom, brandrepublic.com, Friday, 06 July 2012 08:00AM
For the past few years, brands have invested a great deal of time and money into social marketing as a whole.
However some confusion has reigned over which elements of social they should focus on, and which techniques deliver the best return on investment.
A recent survey by Wildfire of 10,000 Facebook campaigns reveals the three categories of media that brands need to understand in order to make the best use of social as a marketing tool.
While many believe that click-throughs are evidence of social marketing success, using this narrow definition of social engagement can conceal the real value of earned media, which generates the best results both in terms of revenue and conversion of new users.
Owned media is the fan pages that brands have, paid media equates to the media that brands use to drive traffic to these fan pages. Earned media however is the holy grail for brands: turning your audience into brand advocates with shares, news feed posts and mentions.
While it’s natural to take with a pinch of salt what brands say about their own products, we all sit up and listen when our friends advocate a certain product or service.
Sixty eight percent of Facebook users say that a recommendation from a Facebook friend would make them more likely to buy a product or visit a retailer.
Generating likes, shares, comments and mentions of your brand among your Facebook audience is of immeasurable benefit to your business. Earned media can create a 12% increase in all engagement rates as well as being effective in converting new users.
These testimonials of customer satisfaction speak volumes about your business. If the few hundred Facebook friends of your business’s biggest evangelists see the shared link about your company, you are achieving every marketer’s dream, word-of-mouth marketing, which has the potential to earn you numerous new customers.
However, your brand’s Facebook page will only spawn earned media if you offer content that engages your audience so much that they feel compelled to share it with their friends. Vouchers, giveaways and sweepstakes result in the greatest number of entries, but high engagement rates do not always translate to earned media.
Wildfire’s research has shown that quizzes and ‘pick your favourite’ questionnaires are the best way to get your fans sharing. Users are likely to respond to quizzes that reveal something positive about them, for example highlighting their best personality traits, or those which expose something about their tastes or interests.
Eighty two percent of users who clicked on a friend's post about a quiz then took the quiz themselves, meaning that when a user’s attention is piqued by the news feed, the engagement potential is very high.
When it comes to likes it is important to lure users in with competition prizes, discounts and samples to reward them for their evangelism. When engaging with users, always ask yourself "what’s in it for them?" Users are much more inclined to like a brand if doing so enters them into a competition, offers them a discount or access to exclusive content.
To measure results, it’s essential to define your goals before launching a social media campaign. While your objective with one campaign might be engagement - garnering likes, comments and clicks - another might be earned media: turning your audience into brand advocates with shares, news feed posts and mentions.
While earned media is more valuable in terms of leads, engagement is extremely valuable in getting to know your audience.
Set yourself realistic targets, like gaining 500 news fans/likes per month and track numbers of new leads and brand advocates to measure the success of your campaign.
The key to social marketing success is to maintain varied, engaging campaigns. The campaigns which are most entered by users are not necessarily the ones that enjoy the highest number of shares (and therefore leads). However, they are still hugely valuable as they allow brands to engage with their audiences.
The most successful social marketing campaigns are those that achieve the perfect balance of combining media which encourages high consumption and participation, and media that encourages high levels of sharing.
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com