Social media

From social media to sales – making the connection in 2014

Organisations have become increasingly dextrous in their use of social media as part of their marketing and sales campaigns. While formerly, it was regarded as sufficient simply to have a basic presence on Facebook and Twitter, now many businesses are engaging with potential customers across a wide range of platforms on a very personal level.

The world of social media never stands still, however. With engagement now at the forefront of social media strategy, the focus for 2014 will mark a shift toward the development of true brand advocates. As networks stagnate in size, energy will be invested in making a stronger connection between social media and sales, with new technology and algorithms allowing improved measurement of social media interactions that lead to sales.

Over recent years, brands and businesses have faced huge changes in the way they communicate with their customers, with the power shifting from big corporates and their large marketing budgets to consumers. As traditional media further fragments and the new norm sees individuals leading multi-platform lives via a mix of tablets and smartphones, these challenges are set to increase, as are the opportunities for savvy marketeers.

A few years ago, when US car giant Ford identified a potential 18-40-year-old driving audience of 70 million citizens, 77 per cent of whom were actively using social media, instead of the traditional car launch, they opted for a grassroots social media campaign to promote the new Fiesta. They placed 100 Fiestas in the hands of ‘social agents’; each agent was given a task every month for six months.  It resulted in over four million YouTube views; 500,000+ Flickr views; more than three million Twitter impressions.

Ford said, “We’ve had over 100 million media impressions without the use of any TV placements and close to 5,000 reservations for the product without traditional media reach.” These are the sort of social media to sales figures that would inspire even the most cynical management board.

2014 will see many more develop this level of sophistication in their approach to and understanding of social media. Increasingly companies now understand how to optimise content and genuinely engage their audiences. Rather than simply broadcasting messages, marketeers are interacting to develop deeper and richer relationships with customers using a mix of tactics. Images and video, for example have become the ‘go to’ viral tactics with a new breed of viral influencers having emerged online.

To report on conversions resulting from social media initiatives it is necessary to ensure correct tracking of the inbound links directing people to your website. From here, Google Analytics can be used to report on social media conversions together with a campaign tagging method to split paid and organic efforts when reporting.

We should all be reporting on the total conversions occurring onsite and the value of them. If you haven’t already established values for conversions, then you will need to take the time to do this. This will allow you to report on the direct financial value of your social media strategy.