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Direct Response Marketing

Net Gains: Measuring Social Media

11 Jul, 2010 By: Matt McCullough Response

Applying proven data strategies to this new medium brings ongoing success.

Face it: Whether or not you need it, think you need it or even quite understand what it means, social media is everywhere and has quickly evolved into a vital marketing tool. It’s become the communications channel of choice for many, and because of its broad appeal, users of the medium have become desirable targets for marketers the world over.

The beauty of social media — in marketing terms — is the ability to see these customer comments, opinions, discussions, issues and attitudes at any given moment. To be clear, the real value of social media as a whole is only realized when, by applying traditional DR methodologies to social media data segmentation, marketers can take the mystery out of this channel.

The Same Rules Apply

Treating this new and evolving medium as a key marketing tactic — applying expert data interpretation and creative resources, and executing relevant programs — can deliver powerful, measurable results.

While interactive marketing has been around and put into practice for some time, social media requires a whole new learning curve. Improved customer relationships are great but the end result should be more tangible — along the lines of customer acquisition or increased sales.

This can be achieved by integrating social media channels into a customer’s marketing mix, with the same defined expectations, appropriate creative and execution, and meaningful results. Whether implementing Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook or blogs, paying close attention to usage models and interpreting customer data should influence placement of the right message in the proper outlet.

Effectively interpreting complex data stats to track what is being said and where gives marketers the ability to pointedly ask, “How would you change your direct marketing strategy if you knew the biggest influencers of your brand were using Facebook instead of Twitter?”

Take Measurable, Direct Action

To illustrate the point, sample data reveals that the top influencers for Company A are blogs and bloggers, followed by Twitter, followed fairly evenly by a variety of other social media outlets. Spikes in data show response times and discussion patterns, pointing to significant company news and how it funnels through the various social media alternatives.

For a company using its existing Facebook page for ongoing customer communications, this may not only come as a shock but also offers an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate and test DR programs within a new social network. Product comparisons are also tracked. The data shows similar spikes in activity and discussion patterns, however the most influential end-users employing competitive terms are using blogs as their primary outlet reflecting a completely different social network priority.

By gathering and interpreting this deep level of data effectively, direct marketers can contend with negative product discussions very quickly, even driving a sale with a solution addressing the concern. Company A might tweet an exclusive offer to learn more about a particular product comparison; it can also adjust creative to address trends and issues of importance to these influencers.

While social networking may be a diversion for the user, smart marketers are really putting it to work — not only measuring whether their efforts are effective, but even more importantly, compiling and analyzing the collected data to make the medium work harder as a continual data gathering engine.

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