The rise of clear models and tools for measuring return on investment for social media will help to mature the channel and grow its value to brands in South Africa.
New tools that allow marketers to more accurately link social media activity to its impact on the bottom line, will experience rapid adoption in the months to come.
Though many South African companies have experimented with social media as part of their marketing mix, they have not to date treated it as seriously as other online channels such as search and display. The reason for this is that they are not certain of the role that it plays in the customer journey.
The single biggest challenge marketers face lies in correctly attributing customer actions – such as registration, filling in a contact form, or making a purchase – to social media activity. And without being able to directly attribute revenue, leads, customer retention and so on to social media, marketers struggle to secure budget and resources for their social media programmes from their managers.
Most brands are still relying on tools such as Google Analytics to track attribution, which means that they usually allocate 100% of the credit for a conversion or other desired customer interaction to the ‘last touch’. For example, if a paid search ad is the most recent referrer source for a customer conversion, that conversion will be attributed to paid search.
But marketers should be moving to a multi-touch model where they track the entire customer journey and allocate conversion value across all their campaigns and channels. The tools and technologies that allow them to do this are available and maturing fast, says Sousa.
For example, by using a tool like Argyle Social, marketers can start to understand which social content influenced conversions on their sites, even if the content doesn’t link to a website they own. This means they can go beyond last-touch attribution to accurately track the impact of their social media marketing campaigns.
This information can be used to gauge which social media activities and content are driving desired customer actions so that social media strategies can be optimised and improved, Sousa says. In addition, this information can be used to quantify social media’s business value for CEOs and CFOs to justify investments marketers are making in social media campaigns and strategies.
We have arrived at a point where brands expect more from social media than the fluffy, feel-good factor. With the right tools and metrics in place, social media can prove its hard value as part of an overall digital strategy.
Tony Sousa is CEO at digital media consultancy, Acceleration Media.
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