16 March 2018

Why can’t brands see the VALUE of social media?

Even now in 2018, brands and companies are questioning the value of social media and asking themselves whether they really need it and why they should pay for management, creative and content. After all Facebook is free, right? Add to this the increasing necessity to use paid social to effectively reach an audience and the marketing budget-holders’ minds are truly blown.

It’s frustrating for social media marketers when their clients don’t see how valuable social media can be for a business. Especially when some clients believe social media is not that relevant, is a passing fad or simply doesn’t produce results. It brings tears to our marketer’s eyes.

But this article isn’t a client-bashing exercise. It’s the opposite. The reason that social media marketing is undervalued is because marketers are failing to measure and communicate its ROI & value effectively.

This is a problem; a problem with many causes.

The root causes of the problem

1. It’s considered a passing fad

According to Forbes some people still believe that social media, or its use as a marketing strategy, is still a fad just waiting to fizzle out. The declining level of organic reach achievable on social media platforms doesn’t help this opinion. Some marketers’ answer to declining organic reach is to jump on the ‘pay-only’ visibility bandwagon, but this strategy disregards the public’s rising aversion to online ads. You can still make noise and be heard with organic social media marketing, provided you do it right.

2. Social media is still viewed as a low skilled task

It’s still common to see companies let the intern handle social. Probably because it’s assumed that everybody knows how to do social. We’re all on Facebook and Twitter, it’s free to claim, free to build a business profile, and free to post regularly. Because of that, people don’t value it as much as they do paid advertising. They’re also less likely to pay a professional to work on a social media campaign, believing that, anyone could do it for free. According to the Drum, companies pay those working on social considerably less, which is proof of this issue.

3. People oversell social media as ’unicorns and kittens’

Very often, marketers are too quick to over-promise and under-deliver and businesses are left with high expectations for their insufficient investment. The truth is there is no magic. You need to spend a significant amount of time or a significant amount of money to see results through social media, and since many business owners aren’t willing to make that investment, they never see a fraction of its potential results.

4. Overuse of terminology and jargon

Digital marketing, in fact all marketing, is loaded with jargon and acronyms which doesn’t aid clients’ understanding of social media marketing. When people don’t understand something, it will naturally drop in perceived importance and excite them far less.

5. Poor communication

If your client rarely hears from you and doesn’t feel involved in your processes, you’ll be an easy cut to make from their marketing budget.

Lack of communication about strategy, ongoing activity and results will only create a gap in understanding, which in turn leads to a lack of investment, trust and engagement in social media marketing.

6. Attributing success

Quantifying the value of social media engagement is tricky because basic social media engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments) fall short out of context. It’s all too easy for marketers to get caught up in the metrics that matter to them, but social media marketers often fail to translate this into results that mean something to businesses.

The solution to the problem

When you look at these root causes it all becomes very clear. There is a lack of clear communication from social media marketers, which leads to an ongoing lack of understanding from clients. Social media marketers now have a duty to step up their game and address this knowledge gap.

The bigger picture

Marketers need to start by using emotions to sell in social media and communicate the potential rewards, exemplifying the success of competitors and the consequences of not embracing social themselves.

Global, national, and industry benchmarks, along with relevant case studies and statistics, all show proof of concept and highlight the scale of social media and digital marketing. For example, social media produces almost double the marketing leads of traditional outbound methods and approximately one in every three minutes that a person spends online is in a social network. These are facts that clients shouldn’t ignore. Pioneers such as Mckinsey, need to be factored into planning to show how social media marketing can strengthen all aspects of the sales funnel.

Clearer communication creates a clearer understanding

Marketers need to plan exactly how social fits their clients’ overall marketing and sales strategy and explain how social media marketing will deliver value and align with business goals. Most importantly marketers must set clear expectations, provide clear explanations of terminology and jargon, and establish a solid workflow.

Results, results, results

Now clients can see the big picture and understand what is being done, marketers must make sure they effectively report progress and achievements, so that client engagement doesn’t wear off. Marketers should take care to establish what matters to the client and report those areas in a way that makes sense to them. Social ROI is relative so it’s important that success is measured accordingly. It’s critical to build metrics based on data that the client can easily digest and clearly map back to true business goals and objectives. However, as well as the core numerical metrics, marketers should use anecdotal evidence of social media’s impact. For example, showing how social media has turned an angry customer into a fan and a fan into an advocate.

If marketers work through this process successfully they’ll become part of the client’s team. The client will look out for them and will begin to appreciate the value of social media, maybe even becoming a fully-fledged advocate of this once considered dark art.

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