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Social media ROI: the challenge of social media marketing

 

EASTWEST had responded a lot of social media proposals lately, and having a lot of discussions with our agency partners and clients about how to approach social media. Time and again, the conversation confirmed that the social media marketing in China is still immature. The lack of ROI standards and established authorities unnerved many clients, preventing any form of experimentation until their questions and concerns were addressed.

During the third social media roundtable organised by EASTWEST Beijing team, participants had a brainstorming meeting together to develop a framework that could help the social media marketing consultants and clients with a simple approach to do the review and measurement of the campaign.

Click here to view roundtable video.

Participants include

Yongchao Duan, Strategy Consultant, Ziff Davis Media Group

Xiaojie Lv, Marketing Manager, Hesine

Di Lu, Marketing Executive, HRH Communications Group

Chunxia Qi, Corporate Blog Trainer

Ann Jie, Associate, EASTWEST

Planning & Goal setting

Before embarking on any social media marketing campaigns, it is essential to first hammer out your objectives and determine approach and resources. From agency’s perspective, it is also important to ensure the budget and time frame is appreciate for what your client wants to achieve. Otherwise, you will have to work on resetting expectations or ‘educate’ the client with an alternative set of objectives.

During the roundtable discussion, participants identified 3 types of objectives which are shown as below.

Marketing objectives

  • Attract new customers
  • Increase market share
  • Raise brand awareness
  • Establish brand loyalty
  • Encourage customer engagement

Financial objectives

  • Drive sales growth
  • Leverage marketing KPI & ROI
  • Achieve better budget allocation towards greater profitability

Social objectives

  • Engage customers for a social good such as non-smoking campaign
  • Recruit new supporters
  • Raise money
  • Draw public attention to specific issues such as food security, green tech & clean energy

ROI Measurements

Once the objectives are determined and clear, you need to prioritize your efforts, focusing on those that will bring the greatest returns. In additional, you also need to plan the use of metrics and analyses to measure the success. For example,

Marketing measurements

  • Visits / Page views
  • User’s comments/mentions/trackbacks
  • Inbound links
  • Followers/ Friends/ Subscribers
  • Tags/ Rating/ Ranking
  • Total referrals

Financial measurements

  • Number of leads/period
  • Ratio of qualified to non-qualified leads
  • Sales enquiries
  • Lead conversion

Social measurements

  • Downloads
  • Tone of comments (positive, neutral, negative)
  • Authority/ influence of contributors
  • Time spent on site
  • Followers/Friends/Subscribers

Yongchao Duan criticised that the use of self-promotion content is now rampant in social media, and as a result the role of SMM consultants are becoming more like people pasting advertising stickers on the street. Thus he argued that by focusing on SMM and metrics, we should not be distracted from the primary objective of building relationships and cultivating dialogue.

ROI evaluation

With defined measures, you can track awareness of the product, users’ attitudes and perceptions, user experience with the product, and behaviours (new and returning). Also you might want to know an estimate of cost and return on investment for the efforts in SMM. Possible evaluation criteria include

  • Cost per click
  • Cost per action
  • Cost per contact
  • Cost per responder
  • Cost per buyer
  • Cost per staff hours per week for social network campaign
  • Cost per follower who participate your campaign

However, the actual impact of the social marketing program is often difficult to assess accurately. This is where you must go back to your campaign objectives and set realistic and appropriate measures.

ROI monitoring tools

In our previous blog post, we have shared a bunch of Chinese monitoring tools helping companies and organisations to track social media success. With one or more of these social media monitoring tools, you can easily gauge how well your efforts are working.

Free tools include

Paid tools include

  • SinaBuzz
  • IWOM Master.

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