Social media effectiveness, brand awareness and sales
Social media—how effective is it really, and how does it translate into sales or positive brand awareness? A recent article on Mashable examined the effectiveness of Twitter hashtags. One campaign mentioned in the article that effectively harnessed Twitter in a way that provoked positive discussion and action was the White House’s #40dollars campaign. The campaign was centered on the payroll tax debate. Mashable explained that the Obama Administration was able to claim a victory in late December 2011 by humanizing the subject while drawing attention to the $40 that the average worker would lose per paycheck if Republicans got their way and ended the payroll tax cut. Reportedly, more than 17,000 people responded to the White House’s tweet, “What does #40dollars mean to you?” As a result, the GOP backed off on the issue within a day or so.
In a similar article, Mashable points out the possible downside of using hashtags and how they aren’t always as effective as intended. Case in point: RIM’s “Let’s #BeBold in 2012.” Primarily due to the open-endedness of the hashtag, the brand’s Twitter campaign became a “bashtag.” Instead of stirring up users’ takes on what it means to “be bold,” the majority of the #BeBold comments were centered on the brand’s lack of marketing prowess.
And to prove another major point about social media marketing, big spending doesn’t always translate into sales. GM’s recent move to pull $10 million of advertising funds—a quarter of their current spending—from Facebook is evidence. GM released this statement: “We regularly review our overall media spend and make adjustments as needed. This happens as a regular course of business and it’s not unusual for us to move our spending around various media outlets—especially with the growth of multiple social and digital media outlets. In terms of Facebook specifically, while we currently do not plan to continue with advertising, we remain committed to an aggressive content strategy through all of our products and brands, as it continues to be a very effective tool for engaging with our customers.” The Wall Street Journal noted that the decision came after much evaluation, but that essentially the automaker’s choice was to “stop advertising with Facebook Inc. after deciding that paid ads on the site have little impact on consumers’ car purchases.”
So what’s in the “secret sauce”? Why are some companies more successful at it than others? Is there any way to avoid all of the negatives? Of course, some things are beyond the company’s control, but it all comes back to the core: the social media strategy. Tech Fanas summed it up best in this article. However, outlined below are the steps named in creating an effective strategy:
1. Identify the business goals and objectives: What are you looking to achieve?
2. Research social media: There are numerous sites out there. Which is the most relevant to your demographic?
3. Create great content: Like the saying goes, “Content is king!”
4. Create a contact list: Who would you like to speak to?
5. Increase your visibility: Facebook and Twitter aren’t enough.
6. Measure the influence of social media: Time for a temperature check. Is your strategy working?
7. Think, re-plan and execute: Simply put, if your plan isn’t working, rethink it!
In today’s world, consumers are able to openly express and discuss their opinions of products and services, whether it be via a customer poll on Facebook or by “pining it” on Pinterest. Either way, expressions of this sort didn’t exist 20 years ago. Bottom line, a well-developed social media strategy—one that evokes action and that is clearly defined—will go a long way and ultimately impact brand awareness and sales.
Share your story. Give us an example of a time when hashtagging proved beneficial to you, whether it was a discount at your favorite retailer or a time when you were rewarded for simply taking part in the conversation.