Does social media add value?
There has been a great deal of hype on the web about social media and this has made it extremely interesting to internet marketers as well. However those that invest in social media marketing all seem to have one common grumble – it is difficult to measure its effectiveness to revenues. It is true that although social media is an exciting form of marketing often the level of effort required does not measure up to the return. Even when the results are excellent it can be hard to prove it came from SMM and not some other area of the internet marketing strategy.
So how can this problem be overcome? Social traffic is governed by time unlike other forms of traffic which divert directly. It has been found that visitors from social networking sites will visit a site and leave just as quickly. With low browsing levels, high bounce rates and minimal conversions social media can find itself in the firing line.
However in the classical conversion funnel of discovery, realization of need, consideration, conversion and retention social media fit nicely into the discovery phase. It is rare that web users convert on their first visit. The internet is used as tool for the discovery phase – research and investigation are key phases that are fulfilled on the internet. People like to browse, search for items of interest, investigate potential need or desire for an item and determine their options. Eventually the web can also be used to make a final purchase decision.
Social media therefore is not a channel which will close the deal – it’s a means to create the opportunity of a future conversion. You can develop brand awareness and direct social media traffic to relevant content that will further draw them to your site.
In the buying cycle Facebook and Twitter should generally feature early on – often prior to a person’s realization that they need the product or even prior to them knowing about that product’s existence. Social media will perhaps generate a high percentage of free trials but this may be difficult to measure.
However don’t feel downhearted about social media. It has much to give to businesses and their brand on the internet. It does drive traffic to well chosen content and helps to build familiarity with your brand. In the same vein it also allows you to provide positive associations with the brand and offers a means for people to share the content you provide and medium to discuss the brand. It creates brand followers and brand evangelists who will become invaluable in recommending your product.
Social media is powerful in many ways. If a Twitter user sees that 10 of the people they follow have shared a link with a new website then it’s more likely that the Twitter user will be attracted to the website. The effect will be more impactful than seeing banner ads whilst browsing. Banner ads and social media develop brand awareness however the latter is much more personal, credible and likely to generate a click.