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Is your social media investment really worth it?

Harvard Business Review just released the results of a rather obvious “study” that basically concluded what most people have known for ages: getting people to “like” your brand on Facebook does absolutely nothing to influence their purchase behaviour. In fact, the study found that “liking” a page on Facebook didn’t change any kind of behaviour at all. What did impact behaviour was social media advertising.

Let’s be honest, these findings are nothing new. It’s unlikely that anyone, anywhere measures the success of their social media investment based on likes alone. And we all know that social media has become a pay-to-play activity.

But do brands know what they are paying for? Or, perhaps more importantly, do they even know why they want to play?

Big M recently developed a new Marketing strategy for a client which was trying to gain market share. Our analysis included assessing the relative influence of each touchpoint in the customer decision journey on purchase behaviour. Not surprisingly, the research concluded that investments in social media brand pages were not at all contributing to the goal of winning over consumers during their active evaluation phase.

Like many other brands, our client had been investing time and money in developing its social media presence and following. And like many other brands, it was wasting both. Our recommendation was to instead find a clear role and purpose for its social media efforts. A purpose which was aligned with its overall Marketing strategy.

In this instance, we looked to see how social media could be used to generate and amplify consumer reviews, a touchpoint that was highly correlated with influence over purchase behaviour. So instead of paying to build a bigger community of fans, we invested in leveraging the passion of the existing community to generate reviews.

Now we know, that just like the HBR study, redefining the role of social media for our client wasn’t exactly rocket science. But it was difficult to fundamentally change a social media programme which had been running on autopilot for so long. Luckily, we had an enlightened client who was willing to stop tracking the volume of followers and instead start tracking the volume of socially-generated product reviews...something completely aligned with the overall Marketing strategy.

The HBR article concludes with a couple of terrifying and yet totally believable statistics. “A recent survey of 427 marketers at U.S. companies showed that 80% are unable to quantify the value of their social media efforts.” And, “in a study of Fortune 500 companies, 87% of CMOs acknowledged that they can’t document that social media creates new customers.”

Our advice at Big M is simple, take the time to align your social media strategy to your overall Marketing strategy. Find a clear role for social media that makes sense for your brand. If you need any support doing that, please get in touch.

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