There’s no question that putting together a paid social media strategy feels like an increasingly uphill battle. There’s an ever expanding amount of competing platforms to evaluate, which are constantly updating features and advertiser options; shifting audience habits meaning what worked in the past won’t necessarily work in the present; organic reach periodically decreased by algorithms; and regulatory changes that shift the rules of engagement.
While that might seem like a daunting environment to operate in, the truth is with the right assistance that can also turn into a competitive advantage. When you are able to understand the full 360-degree view of the audience and the social media ecosystem, your content will stand out that much more compared to advertisers who haven’t cracked the code.
With that framework in mind and based on ListenFirst’s extensive experience in social intelligence and optimizing campaign performance, here are six key insights into how to improve social media ROI.
Tip #1: Avoid The Trap Of Getting Data From Too Many Different Vendors
If you’re spending too much time pulling data from different places you’re working with the wrong vendor. In theory, the impulse is logical, you want to get as much data as possible from as many sources as possible. More information can never be a bad thing, right? In reality however, you’re really busy in the day to day functions of your job and don’t have the free time or energy to compare and contrast a bunch of charts and Excel sheets from unrelated measurement systems and try to amalgamate a coherent social media strategy out of it. In reality, even thinking about that makes you want to take a nap.
Even beyond the time drain problem juggling data from multiple vendors presents too fractured of a picture. Using one vendor with their measurement system for Instagram and other vendor with a totally different measurement criteria for YouTube and having third company advising on Facebook strategy is not going to result in a coherent social media plan.
Solutions that are point specific don’t work. You need a holistic view of your social performance, and a platform that’s comprehensive enough to collect all your social data, get you the actionable information you need for a cohesive and interconnected social strategy, so you can make smart buying decisions and move on with your day.
Tip #2: Having All Your Analytics in One Platform Can Unify Your Entire Team
The other side to storing all your analytics in the same platform is the internal, cross team benefits. Much like the Tower of Babel story, it’s impossible to get anything done when every stakeholder is communicating differently, focusing on different metrics.
What’s more efficient and actionable is streamlining all of your social handles into one analytics tool. With that unified measurement system in place benchmarking performance becomes much easier. Additionally with all teams and departments using the same standards of performance tracking there’s far more transparency and accountability. Optimization decisions which once would take a week long email chain to decide can now be reduced to opening an automated report.
Through using a robust social media intelligence tool like ListenFirst, the arduous process of evaluating social media performance is centralized, standardized, and simplified into a common language.
Tip #3. Make Sure Vendors Provide Context Both Historically And Around Unlimited Competitors
Imagine you’re trying to go visit a friend’s house, so you open Google Maps to get directions, type in your address but notice there’s no way to enter in the address of your destination. That would be completely useless because how can you figure out a route when only half of the relevant data is being evaluated?
Similarly, if a vendor is only able to provide data about where you alone are right now that information isn’t actionable either. You need data illustrating historical performance of your brand. How well is a channel performing relative to last year? How about compared to 5 years ago? You also need to fill in those blanks around competitors. Is a competitor executing a specific tactic more successfully and why? You also want the ability to benchmark against brands that aren’t in your competitive set as there’s maybe a strategy you can pick up and run with.
Context matters and you want a vendor who can provide an unlimited amount of it around your own social media performance, competitors, and even around non competitors to make the most well informed buying decisions.
Tip #4: Beware Of Data That’s Unverified And From Sources That Aren’t Compliant
D-Day on June 6, 1944 was primarily successful because the Germans were tricked into thinking that the invasion was going to occur at Pas de Calais instead of Normandy, a deception that in part was successful because the Allies lied to a German general where he was being held prisoner before releasing him back into enemy hands.
Nothing around social media buying is that life and death, but acting upon intel from what turns out to an unreliable source is a frequent industry frustration. Many buyers cite data integrity as the biggest gap in what’s currently being promised vs. delivered by social analytics vendors, with those companies not being upfront that they’re providing questionable data.
So what’s the solution? Buyers should only work with social listening companies are honest about what they’re able to deliver but there should also be baseline expectations about what’s acceptable to provide. You want a company which is compliant around such audience consent protections as GDPR, and should only trust companies that get their data through the APIs of the social media platforms. Don’t settle for shady data scraping or similar solutions – social media platforms have clearly defined the rules of engagement and only social analytics tools that paint within those lines can provide data that’s reliable.
Tip #5: Don’t Be Seduced By A Vendor Who Says They Can Do Everything. They Can’t.
Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote that in order to be truly elite around a skill, a person needs to put in 10,000 hours of work. If you hold that up against the amount of the claims vendors often make about everything they’re the best at, the math just isn’t there. There isn’t enough hours in a day, regardless of team size, to develop the expertise and infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of every type of customer all the time.
The truth is most companies are max, good at one or two things. For instance, ListenFirst is great for deep analytics and drilling down into content and audience insights around owned social media channels. That doesn’t mean ListenFirst is the right fit for every type of customer, for instance, without an existing knowledge of advanced marketing, it’s unlikely you’d be able to activate around the social media insights you’d find on the platform.
In evaluating a vendor, ask what’s the one thing they are the best at; determine if they’re actually able to deliver and if that’s a good match for your needs. If not, move on to finding a vendor who is a better fit.
Tip #6: Seek A Customer Service Teams That Turn Findings Into Recommendations
Ever have the experience where you get the automatic notification of medical test results before the doctor has a chance to contact you and suddenly you’re trying to figure out what an albumin/globulin ratio is and if you need to do anything about it?
Data is great, critical actually but it is only half the battle – you also need to understand how to make that information actionable. Around social media insights, that’s where the expertise of a good customer service team comes in. Vendors need to be able, based on experience, institutional knowledge, and understanding of your marketing priorities to make clear recommendations about how to optimize your social media performance. You want to target a social analytics vendor who has low employee churn, a long history of working on similar accounts, and an unambiguous explanation of how working with them will improve ROI.
Additionally, as many C-suite stakeholders still equate social with just meaning Facebook, it’s also important that the vendor be able to educate internal leadership on the value of fully embracing social and those marketing recommendations.
The winning paid social media strategy is all about picking the social analytics vendor that makes your job easier. That means delivering verified information that’s all in one place including about competitors; through a platform that works as promised; and with the help of a customer service team that has the experience necessary to make impactful recommendations. Following that checklist with enable marketers with the right tools for success.