Monetizing Social Media
August 31, 2011 | By Kristin Hersant
Earlier this month, StrongMail sponsored and spoke at MediaPost's Social Media Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe, NV. The conference producers put together another fantastic program, featuring innovations from great social brands like Coca-Cola, Dell and American Express. Over the course of three days, there were a number of great presentations, panels and roundtables that provided valuable insight for any brand looking to advance their use of social media as a marketing channel. Following are just some of our key social media marketing takeaways from the event:
1. The Economy is in Bad Shape… but Social Media Continues to Grow. According to Jordan Rohan, Managing Director of the Internet and Digital Media practice for Stifel Nicolaus, most of the world is still digesting the fact that the US GDP is growing around 1% and Europe is flat. China’s growth is also slowing because it is so dependent on US consumers, whose spending has dipped dramatically. We are entering a bear economy, but social media is one of the few sectors that will continue to grow in the coming years. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that social media will rev at a 26% CAGR over the next five years to become a $4.4 billion industry by 2016. (Source: US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 To 2016)
2. Facebook Rules Social Media. Facebook currently has 50% of the U.S. population as active members, and the average Facebook user visits Facebook 38 times per day. These are astounding metrics, and yet many brands are still struggling with their monetization strategies on Facebook. Most experts agree that you need to build a strategy around the fact that engagement takes place in the news stream – not on the brand fan page. In fact, Starbucks is currently generating 156 impressions in the news feed for every 1 visit to their brand page.
3. Twitter is One to Watch. 92% of US Consumers have heard of Twitter, but only 8% use it. There is huge growth potential for Twitter and marketers should keep an eye on them as they begin to monetize their traffic. Some analysts think that a Google acquisition of Twitter could pose a significant challenge to Facebook’s market dominance. As for your marketing strategy, keep in mind that Twitter is all about breaking news. Therefore it’s important to keep your content strategy fresh. The #1 reason that people stop following a brand on Twitter is because the content became repetitive over time.
4. Google+ Has Built It… But Will They Come? Google+ is suffering from a chicken-and-the-egg syndrome. While they’re adding new members at the rate of 1 million a day, many of those people aren’t actively using it. Meanwhile brands are taking a “wait and see” approach because they’re concerned that Google+ might go the way of Google Wave. Part of the problem lies in the fact that Google launched its viral go-to-market strategy with a fickle group of technologists, whereas Facebook spread virally via college students at Harvard. If Google wants to drive adoption as quickly as possible, they need to go straight to the consumer. One way to do this would be to give brands the ability to send Google+ invites to their email lists and enable consumers to easily connect with the corresponding brand pages (when available).
5. Build Facebook Apps to Grow Your Database. Facebook currently has 50% of all social market share, according to Justin Kistner of WebTrends. That is a massive amount of data that is waiting to be tapped. American Express built an application called “Link, Like, Love” that delivers deals, access and experiences based on card member “Likes” and interests on Facebook. Users of the app can get rebates at checkout, access location based offers via mobile check-ins, and share offers with other friends. The app has been so popular, that the site crashed on July 19 from too much traffic. But the real genius of this program is that, as the creators of the app, American Express gets access to Facebook’s rich social data profiles for anyone who uses the app, which they can append to their cardholder database.
6. Use Facebook’s Self-Service Ad Marketplace. If you’re going to buy Facebook Ads, here’s a tip… don’t call their ad sales department. You will pay a $10 CPM if you buy directly from Facebook’s Ad Sales and only a $.70 CPM if you buy ads through their self-service marketplace. And when creating your ad targeting strategy, don’t forget to target your fans. You'll see a .35% CTR instead of a .1% CTR.
7. Tap Social Media for Customer Acquisition. Only 18% of people believe paid advertising; however, 80% of people believe word-of-mouth. Harnessing word-of-mouth for new customer acquisition can be an extremely powerful tactic. Discover Card presented a great case study on how they’ve integrated social referrals into their transactional process for registering new cardholders. Each card member is offered $50 for referring a friend who is approved for a new card, and the new applicant also receives $50. The program has been so successful that Discover is looking to expand its multi-channel acquisition program into additional channels such as mobile.
8. Humanity is More Important than Being Perfect. Authenticity is the key to a successful social media marketing strategy. Keep it human and get your message out on time before getting it perfect. When you’re crafting your creative, you should also keep in mind that people are 5X more likely to click on an image if it has a human face on it.
9. Social Media Marketing is Taking a Page from Email Marketing’s Playbook. Many of the social media marketing best practices shared during the summit could have easily been plucked from an email marketing conference. The many guidelines and tips about how to reach the right influencer with the right message at the right time, communication frequency and the best day to post sounded all too familiar. The good news is that responsibility for social media appears to be moving out of the house of PR and into the hands of marketers where it can be monetized.
10. Old School Marketers Still Have the Best Advice. There were many great sound bites floated during this conference, but the best had to be a timeless quote from David Ogilvy: “The consumer is not a moron… she’s your wife.” If you can effectively grasp that, you’ll go far in any marketing field.
And tune into our blog to stay up to speed on the newest social media marketing trends.