Marketers continue to grapple with demonstrating ROI from social media. The reality is that social as a marketing vehicle is still in its infancy. But part of the challenge is that some marketers are setting goals based on “going viral” rather than understanding what a consumer needs in the social space. CMO’s are also concerned that the social space could damage their brands. In fact, a recent report from Deloitte and Forbes Insights notes that 27% of executives surveyed still see social media as a risk to their brands’ reputation. Lack of ROI and brand damage—sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it doesn’t need to be.
The truth is social media marketing needs to focus on the real purpose of social media: providing preference-based, two-way communication. Think about it— you mayclick on yet another tired Call Me Maybe parody (with a marketing twist!) but will it motivate you to buy? Our belief is that consumers would rather truly engage with a brand that’s demonstrating a genuine understanding of what you want, where you are in the decision process and how you’d like to go about getting it.
Social marketing tends to engage with a consumer when they are earlier in the purchase process. This leads to an approach focused on nurturing consumers as they navigate the purchase process. To do this successfully, marketers need to provide the right interactions at each touch point to make the experience positive and relevant, both to where the consumer is the process and contextually to their expectations of the social environment.
The goal should always be about making the entire experience consumer-centric. From the moment they engage until they buy, or don’t buy. Ignoring unique experiences and going for a viral homerun is, in fact, being product-centric—giving the consumer a broad, untargeted experience that will hopefully lead millions to your product rather than demonstrating an understanding of what that individual wants, and leading them there thoughtfully.
Answering the individual call is what helps brands find their social stride, driving sales and reinforcing the value of your brand. We will continue our discussion on social in future posts to help marketers get a sense of how consumer-centric approaches begin to show results and reduce the concerns about brand reputation.