How to get ROI from your social assets in 2017

No matter what business you are in, a nose-to-tail social and digital transformation is mandatory to staying relevant and driving revenue.

The business potential of social is staggering, especially in Asia. There are 1.4 billion active social media accounts in Asia. In addition, Southeast Asians are more engaged on social, compared to the global average. Thais and Singaporeans are twice as likely to message businesses each month, while Malaysians are 50% more likely, according to Facebook.

If you’re a business in SEA, social media is a critical part of your marketing program, because that’s where your customers live.

There’s a big difference between having a social presence and having one that actually drives your business forward. Vanity metrics such as ‘likes’ can be distracting and lack clear business value which is why the biggest barrier for marketers is getting buy-in from leadership who may be focused on spending large budget on traditional media such as TV, print and radio.

Accurately measuring social return on investment (ROI) requires aligning your business goals to your digital metrics across departments, campaigns and teams. The reality is, you cannot isolate social ROI to a single team because it spans touch points across the entire customer journey. It needs to be a holistic view across sales, marketing, customer service, and even human resources and below are the 4 steps to make it happen.

  • Align your business goals directly to social marketing goals

To demonstrate social ROI, you need to align your social marketing strategy to real business goals such as increasing online sales, improving customer service, building brand awareness, or driving website traffic.

Last year, the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) defined its business goal as boosting consumer engagement, but their social channels were spread across several different internal business units making it challenging to respond to all their messages promptly.

The bank’s communications team then introduced a centralised dashboard with keyword searches that allowed different business units to actively listen to all brand mentions across Twitter and Facebook, and separate internal teams were able to actively engage with customers at once. By reducing the volume of customer service emails by 90%, customer interaction went up, enquiries increased, and response time went down.

Engagement, lead generation, brand awareness, loyalty, retention, and conversion, are all examples of business goals which can be achieved through social.

In order to drive a solid social media strategy that achieves business goals, companies need to understand their audience with social data. Social data can help brands gain a more well-rounded understanding of who their target audience is. Engaging your audience online grants key insights, such as when they are available, what content they like to engage with, why they want your product and how they perceive your brand.

This leads to more informed, educated campaigns to resonate better with your audience, driving up customer lifetime value while lowering customer acquisition costs, which is essential in driving ROI.

  • Tackle customer service

Customer service is on the front lines of the company, so it’s one of the first departments where you’ll see an impact from investing in social. According to a recent study by research company, Aberdeen Research, companies delivering social customer care see much bigger financial gains – 7.5% year-on-year growth compared to 2.9% growth without.

The study also mentioned more than half of customers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they don’t find or receive prompt answers to questions. Having your customer service department on social media reduces response time and resolution time, which leads to more satisfied customers and ultimately, better retention and repeat purchases.

  • Predict demands before they happen

We are in the midst of the on-demand messaging revolution, and Asia is a leader in this area. In the words of Facebook’s David Marcus, “The Asian paradigm has shown there’s a ‘there’ there”. Asian apps such as Line, WeChat, Ginja and KakaoTalk have transformed ordering food, paying bills and other day-to-day transactions into seamless in-app experience.

Now, Facebook Messenger is building out its own vision of mobile shopping.

The demand has changed for what customers expect out of companies, which is everything. Instead of businesses seeking out customers, customers are now directly approaching businesses for their needs. That interaction can immediately lead to a conversion. Hence, businesses need to shift from being marketing campaign-driven to a more agile approach.

Keep an eye on current trends, an ear on what people are talking about and a hand on your brand playbook. That way, when customers come knocking, you already know what they want, and you just need to delight them to  close the deal.

  • Hire a data-driven team

The amount of information available to measure brand sentiment is incredible. According to this CSC white paper, global data production will increase 44x by 2020, and that is creating unprecedented opportunity for brands to understand their audience.

Data will eventually permeate all sides of the business, which is why teams need to train all departments, not just marketing, to break their data out of organisational silos and work together.

Social data is key to providing the context in which customers see your business. You may know your product inside out, but social media tells you how the world sees your product, as well as your competitors’. This can be used to guide not just product direction to cover your weaknesses, but messaging to highlight your strengths to gain more market share. Samsung used this method to catapult its Galaxy brand to success in the smartphone wars.

On every level, from strategy and planning, down to the micro-moments leading to a purchase, you’ll see a return from social. It allows you to make decisions backed by data, and delight your customers with quality interactions.

The author of this article is Roger Graham, director of growth and marketing at Hootsuite APAC.

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