Social Media Engagement Funnel by Mark Smicikias, Digital Strategist, Intersection Consulting blog (Click Image To Enlarge)
Social marketing is no longer solely about having a Facebook page or a Twitter account. It's about creating rich opportunities (contests, communities, polls, games, and other approaches) for fans to engage with the brand—and, by doing so, attracting the fans' circle of friends to the brand as well.
By taking engagement to the next level, marketers can advance their social media strategy and grow their marketing database, making the transition from broadcast to unicast, and making that one-to-one connection with the customer.
Of the 1 billion-plus Facebook users, 584 million are daily users. Of the 517 million twitter users, over 140 million are active at least monthly. In the course of 60 seconds, there are 695,000 Facebook status updates and over 98,000 tweets.
With such numbers, marketers who fail to take advantage of social engagement opportunities will see customers shift to more socially aware competitors.
By engaging social customers and prospects with interactive activities, companies can create considerable brand loyalty, increase their fan base, grow their direct marketing database dramatically, and generate greater revenue.
How do you know whether your business is ready for social engagement, and how do you plan for a successful implementation?
- Understand the social media landscape, including what other companies are doing in and outside your industry.
- Be clear about what you want to achieve with social media.
- Have a listening program in place to determine which customers are talking about what topics and where they interact most.
- Experiment with pilot programs. A good place to start is Amber Naslund's "7 Steps To Executing A Pilot Program."
- Ensure that social media initiatives are not conducted in isolation.
That's a great start, but it alone will not ensure success; what happens next is really how social media success or failure is determined.
According to a recent survey by The Relevancy Group and ClickSquared:
- 55% of marketers share email content to social sites.
- 52% manage follower pages on social sites.
- 46% respond with private messages.
- 45% employ social media for email acquisition.
- 45% use Twitter to nurture customer relations.
- 45% use email/social metrics for attribution.
Although roughly half of all marketers are using social media in one form or another, very few organizations are connecting customer-centric practices, data, and measurement across channels. Disturbingly, only 25% of cross-channel marketing programs are tightly coordinated, the study found. That's down from last year—increasing the opportunity for smart marketers to differentiate their brand with a consistent, relevant dialogue with every customer.
How can marketers expect to effectively reach and maintain a dialogue with their customers, via social media or any other channel, if they don't examine where their customers want to be contacted, when, and how they are using each channel?
Making the Move
Here are three tips for using social media as part of an effective cross-channel customer dialogue... making the move from broadcast to unicast:
- Social does not equal one-to-one. Too often marketers forget that Facebook is primarily used as a broadcast channel. If they really want to establish one-to-one customer dialogues, they need to engage their fans in a way that encourages the fans to opt in to the company's marketing programs—which usually means asking the fans to share their email addresses. From there, the marketer has myriad ways to collect and further understand interests and preferences—and can then tailor the dialogue (and offers) to each fan's specific needs.
- Not all fan-gates are created equal. One thing that significantly affects engagement via social channels is creating apps that do not require fans to share their full profiles. Requiring full profile sharing to participate in campaigns or enter contests significantly suppresses fan conversion. Requesting only basic information, such as name and email address, can deliver superior participation rates that allow you to dramatically grow your opt-in marketing database.
- Cross-channel means favorite channel. Engaging in one-to-one meaningful, customer-specific dialogues will far exceed the results experienced with social broadcasting alone. Moving from one-size-fits-all broadcasting to highly targeted communications that are personalized and timely, and via the consumers' preferred channel, is the proven path to marketing success.
Cross-channel does not need to be complicated; it can be as simple as delivering a single relevant message to the customer's channel of choice.
Marketers who listen and speak to customers across channels clearly have an advantage. Those who are successful will find that they reach a much deeper level of customer understanding than what can be achieved by working in channel-specific silos.
Understanding to your customer's preferences and respecting their choices is the foundation of a great communications program—whether by social, email, SMS, direct mail, or telephone.
Social networking presents enormous opportunities for companies to engage and attract thousands of new potential customers. Doing so successfully means creating mechanisms by which consumers can engage with the brand beyond a one-time click of a "like" or "follow" button.
Providing engaging games, contests, and (fan-)gated communities that allow customers to interact with the brand (and their fellow fans) to share their opinions, expertise, and passion are critical ingredients for growing your marketing database and engaging in a one-to-one dialogue with each customer.
COMMENTARY: In order to increase fan engagement brands must be engaging. You cannot be stoic or disengaged. You must initiate the conversation in order to create engagement. This means providing interesting content and information of value to your fans.
In the real world, within small conversational groups, there are always individuals who are the "life of the party," or group leaders, and the ones others listen to. Others tend to congregate around these individuals. In social media, you must identify your influencers and brand loyalists, then engage them into interesting conversations about your brand. Your influencers and brand loyalists are the message carriers for your brand. These fans love your products and services, and willingly click the "Like" button or post a positive comment about your brand. They also tend to have a lot of followers or fans who respect what they say about your brand, and are likely to spread that message down the social graph to create a viral effect for the brand.
Have you heard of the 90-9-1 rule in social media marketing? It states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing. While the numbers may vary slightly from social community to social community, the general principle of this rule is correct: a very small percentage of contributors produce the vast majority of a community’s content.
In the world of social media marketing, these infrequent and frequent contributors are referred to as influencers. Digital marketers know the value of communicating with these influencers. The problem is, everyone wants an influencer to connect to and write about their products and services.
So how do you find your influencers in social marketing?
1. Research. Find out where people talk about your industry. Look for groups in LinkedIn and Twitter, and start following them. Read the key blogs that cover your industry. What to start looking for are those individuals who are most vocal and those who seem to create the greatest engagement. Also take note of their reach. Here are a couple tools that can help in determining who your influencers are:
- Klout. The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence.
- JitterJam’s Jitterater. Jitterater estimates the influence and reach of individuals and assigns a numerical rating for each person based on the various elements of their social profile.
2. Engagement. When trying to engage influencers:
- Know them well. There is nothing worse than not understanding what influencers like or don’t like. Once you’ve indentified them, follow them for a while, first quietly, then engage them with helpful comments that move the discussion forward. You can also re-tweet their tweets. Once they see that you are supporting their efforts they will be more open to responding to your requests.
- Be transparent. Influencers have heightened “bulls**t meters” on at all times, so whatever you do, be honest, up front, and genuine.
3. Treat them specially. They are the 1% that are influencing the discussions the most. That makes them special. The folks at ClickZ say to "take to the time to plan out a strategy that engages them in a special and unique way."
We came upon a chat about this very issue from marketwireblog.com and here are some additional tips on how to deal with influencers that we have not mentioned:
- Determine what you have that they need, and give them something that will make them look/feel great if they share it.
- It’s about giving your influencers the power to do what they want with the info/message you share with them.
- Help them before you ask for their help.
For many brand fans, spending time on Facebook is the highlight of the day. By some measures, up to 23% of a fans time online is spent logged into social networks. It is therefore very important for social media marketers to know when those fans are online and how much tie they are spending online, so that you can time your updates to get the most eyeballs.