Sarah Reilly is VP of Sales at Blueye Creative, a Chicago based Facebook preferred partner with a platform to help brands create and measure social marketing programs. Previously, Sarah was a Director of Sales at Thismoment, a global cloud based CMS for brand engagement, and also held positions at Vibrant Media and Salesforce.com.
Marketers have adopted Facebook as a channel for their social initiatives, but it is apparent that many are still seeking to quantify the value and the return on investment. How can marketers tie the activity of their fans – and friends of fans – back to booking a hotel room, or purchasing a pair of shoes, or even buying a car?
A few years ago, as I sat at the table with several Fortune 500 brands, it became apparent there was a land grab for ‘likes,’ and marketers had wrestled with the notion that social media ROI may be a more complex version of predicting the impact of a Super Bowl commercial. In the end, there was no way to measure the true value of ‘likes.’
With the evolution of tabs and applications, there was a dynamic shift in thinking—the dissolution of the standard ‘microsite,’ and the acceptance of building experiences for your community whether on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Going beyond ‘likes,’ the ability to brand a page and communicate with an audience started a wave of best practices for community management, and the value of ‘engagement’ seemed to increase marketer’s comfort level with Facebook as a platform.
However, with each step a greater challenge emerges. You have built an audience, now what?
It’s important that your audience sees value in your community page, commentary, apps, ads contests and whatever other initiatives you make, as your community is your currency on Facebook. It is no longer about ‘liking’ your brand; it’s about finding deals, receiving rewards, being inspired, and connecting on a personal level with your brand.
If you have at any point believed in the value of marketing on Facebook, or you have become disenchanted with the cost of putting marketing dollars into a funnel that is not netting a predictable return, there are five simple, but important best practices you can follow to achieve the greatest ROI:
1. Create Utility – Create an application that offers intrinsic value to the user and is paired with your brand’s lifestyle. Don’t just tell fans about your hotel properties; allow them to create their own dream vacation.
2. Leverage Open Graph – A critical step in the process of creating applications is to ensure they are viral in nature, and Facebook’s Open Graph technology can help marketers achieve that goal. It is the one-to-many referral program baked into your social initiatives. For example, Bob creates his dream vacation and his story gets published to his 800 friends. Open Graph actions get published into a user’s newsfeed, timeline and ticker and are also visible to all Facebook users in the mobile version (unlike ads).
3. Collect Data – It’s all about the data. When a user syncs their social account, the brand can gain access to the user’s data and that of his/her friends. In the example above, Bob created his dream vacation within the brand’s application. What if he indicated that he wanted to play golf, and stay on a beautiful beach property? This type of application level data is the key component for marketers to be able to tie ROI back to social media campaigns. It is the ability to pair a creative experience that is unique to your brand, with long-term strategies that leverage Facebook data and application level data for behavioral retargeting.
4. Retarget – It can’t begin and end with applications. Behind every successful campaign is media dollars. In our example, the brand now has the ability to target Bob and other users with specific deals and offers. The brand can send Bob, a 42-year-old male in California, a much more relevant and targeted message to increase conversion and lower the cost of acquisition.
5. Measure – Brands need to demand ROI from their technology partners and be able to report back to a CMO on campaign success. One way to do so is utilizing both application and ads together – increasing the visibility into the following: how many actions were published through open graph, number of viral referrals, number of application users, number of users who were driven off to the brand’s site, and number of users who booked a stay. These metrics are what can help a brand benchmark the success of social media programs and measure ROI.
As brands begin to get their arms around this next wave of social, it’s important that everyone has a seat at the table. Across agency strategy teams, media buyers, internal brand marketing teams and technology partners, all parties need to collaborate on creating the most sustainable efficient campaign strategies, and all need be held accountable for results.