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Is social media a legitimate key player in the marketing game? If you asked me this three years ago when I was first hired as a social media intern, I would have said no, without hesitation. Granted, I didn’t know much about social media beyond my own personal (and minimal) use, but I still believed that it couldn’t possibly bring much to the table. Sure, I was young and naive and just wanted a “real job,” but I was pretty sure of myself. Today, social media is nowhere near where it was 1,038 days ago on my first day at Wpromote and, after further review, I’m happy to admit that I was dead wrong.

The fact that my job and the social space have evolved so much in such a short period of time is exactly what’s so fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) about it. I believe that it is also why many companies and brands have been hesitant to hop on the Facebook bandwagon – until recently. If you have been on Facebook in the past year (according to a recent study most of us view our News Feeds an average of 5,110 times a year), you are well aware that Facebook has become what marketers are calling a “pay to play” platform and other social networks are following suit.

My Dad, an accountant and social media disbeliever, always told me “percentages are powerful.” So here are a few to consider before I continue…

According to the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, published by Social Media Examiner in May 2014:

  • 90% of advertisers use Facebook ads.
  • 54% say that Facebook is the most important network.
  • 88% of marketers say they that they don’t know how to measure social media ROI.

 deer

Social ROI has always been a grey area. Do you know how hard it is to convince analytics-driven business/marketing managers (or your accountant father) what the value of social media is? Pretty hard. Sure, it is important to track social clicks, CTR, actions, views, engagement, etc., but the truth is that these aren’t perfect indicators of value. Engagement rate has no direct correlation to sales so we are immediately limiting the value by focusing on these.  What we have is this Paradox of Opportunity. There are hundreds of millions of consumers all over the world, yet advertisers’ investments are focusing on the smallest sub-population of converters.

paradox

So what do we do about it? How do we adapt our strategy to be more inclusive of the “Clickers” and “All Users,” yet exclusive enough to reach only our target audience? George Manas, Director of Client Strategy & Development at Resolution Media, puts it simply: “Social media is the answer to its own problem.” Thank you, George, for the enlightenment.

Whether you realize it or not, our social activity is creating a common identity that tracks our online journey across devices. Now that we are all a part of this cross-device culture, the cookie, what has long been the most powerful tool for search marketers, is no longer enough. Social media is opening the door for us to truly track consumer exposure, engagement and behavior; this social ID is the most accurate idea of a person on the web.

One of the most successful ways our social team is taking advantage of this is through Facebook’s custom audiences.

Website Custom Audiences allow us to reengage with website visitors based on a pre-defined objective and can be segmented and used to target all visitors, cart abandoners, newsletter sign-ups, event pages, product category/description pages, etc.

CRM-Based Custom Audiences give us the ability to create very targeted messaging directed towards specific audiences based on CRM data, and can easily integrate and complement clients’ email marketing campaigns.

Lookalike Audiences enable us to find new customers based on profiles of existing ones. We can utilize existing custom audience lists, tracking pixels, and page fans to develop various lookalike lists that can target based on similarity or reach. This is a great way to find new customers or site visitors that are similar to those who have already purchased or visited your site.

Twitter has also adopted a similar model that allows advertisers to tailor audiences using customer email addresses and mobile numbers. Social retargeting through AdRoll is yet another game-changer capitalizing on cross-device social identities.

So, how does this help the deer-in-headlights social media people in explaining the value and ROI of Social Media?  I think bullet points are also powerful…

  • Utilize custom audiences to expand targeting beyond the “converters” circle.
  • Track cross-journey, cross-device impressions and actions through social ID instead of cookies. Example: In a cross-device report of a recent campaign for SCOTTEVEST, nearly 20% of conversions started on mobile and finished on desktop
  • Develop a better understanding of ROI from mobile and desktop campaigns
  • Understand customer behavior
  • Optimize search and social campaigns accordingly and allocate marketing budget where it matters

In this new era of targeting and measurability, it’s imperative that we capitalize on the wealth of information social media is giving us. Segmentation and customization together are key to reaching your desired audience in the most organic way possible. With the new concept of social ID’s, it is quite possible, and increasingly likely, that social will be the new control center for digital strategy, so hop on the bandwagon before you get left behind!

 

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