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It is time for social media strategies to grow up

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Many South African marketers look on social media as an unruly child, indulged as the youngest addition to the family of tools that they use for marketing and communications.

Melody Maker, Digital Strategist, Acceleration Media. (Image: Acceleration Media)

After all, it started out life as an informal experiment in most organisations, where it was regarded by many executives as a mere novelty rather than a serious business tool. We had ad hoc strategies, driven by independent tweeters and bloggers who knew they could help grow brands but who did not form part of a coordinated strategy.

But now, social media is no longer in its infancy – it is a mainstream channel that needs to learn to pay its way just like the other mature tools and technologies we depend on every day. One of the most important steps to bringing some discipline to this problem child is through proper measurement – something that we were all too willing to overlook as social media took its first baby steps.

We did not know how to measure social media’s value – we just had faith that it would deliver enormous benefit. It is time to put that thinking behind us and start making use of the tools available in the market to track and measure social media’s performance.

When we are talking about measurement, we should no longer be talking about simple metrics like retweets, followers and influence. Instead, we should be looking at our business goals and measuring the role that social media has played in reaching them.

A simple social media dashboard is not going to give that to you. And you will not find it in free analytics software. You need to invest in a proper enterprise tool that can help you to stay on top of a fast-paced marketing channel and the reams of data it produces.

For example, a tool like Argyle Social can help you understand which links, content, and social networks prompted users to complete the action you desired – filling in a contact form, registering on your site, making a purchase. And it can help you track attribution more precisely – you can understand the percentage of conversions that were influenced by social content, regardless of whether or not social was the ‘last touch’.

Social is an important addition to any marketers’ toolbox, but until now we have lacked the tools and methodologies to justify the time and money spent.

Now that we have the tools, we should be using them to demonstrate the value of social media to the business and to keep doing social media better. It is only by linking social media to ROI that we can improve performance and ensure that social media gets the respect it deserves as a mature part of the marketing mix.

Melody Maker, Digital Strategist, Acceleration Media.

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