2011 marks a new year and another chance to examine the evolution of social strategy. In working with brands from a consultative perspective, it’s very interesting to note the changes in their social strategies, content creation plans and especially social benchmarks in comparison to last year’s. Last year it was all about the undefined. It was social strategists and marketers trying to convince the c-suite to pull money from existing buckets with proven ROI models and invest it in a rapidly emerging, but still unproven medium of social media. 2010 was really the first year that the majority of businesses and brands actually set aside a bucket for social. BUT, and this is a big BUT, they did so without having any solid ROI model or meaningful business metrics.
Jets fans gathered for a rally in Times Square Thursday in anticipation of Gang Green’s AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Yes we got a million Facebook fans last year.” “Yes we were @mentioned 5 million times on Twitter.” “Yes we’ve got unerring positive sentiment.” “Yes to all the above.” But when we break this down and look at how all the social media buzz is impacting our bottom line, it becomes a very difficult question to answer. In the past it was, “we know we need to put up a Facebook page as quickly as possible” and now it’s, “we have a Facebook page but how can we use it to make money?” Luckily we’ve made it this far but we’re still not taking the time to really think through the answer in a smart way that we can prove time and again. Part of the reason is because there isn’t a true set of globally accepted metrics – but trust me, we’ll be there soon.
In the meantime it’s all about strategy. Brands need to start treating social strategy like they would marketing or any other strategy. No savvy marketer would ever pump a million dollars into a marketing strategy without some semblance of what the return would look like, but this is exactly what’s happening with social.
Okay. So what does this all mean? It means we need to get back to selling – SOCIAL SELLING. Essentially it’s all about adding real marketing messaging that will drive people to purchase and then (now this will really blow your mind) enabling them to do so. This should be the core of your social strategy unless you are cause based.
People know that even though brands have created fun and engaging experiences on Facebook, look at Oreo, Starburst, Vevo, Red Bull, Ford, MTV, Starbucks and the list goes on and on, but at the end of the day the consumer isn’t stupid and they know a brand really wants them to BUY something.
Many of these brands have great social experiences, games or apps but they aren’t getting anything meaningful and measurable in return. This can only go on for so long before the c-suite says, “Alright ACME marketers, you have 16.5 million fans on Facebook but you don’t have any meaningful analytics that will prove this is really impacting my bottom line.”
This probably sounds familiar and to put it into perspective using a real world example, lets look at a professional sports team that is using social media to drive sales, establish itself as a leader in it’s space and most importantly, impact it’s bottom line. I am talking about the New York JETS and the Wall Street Journal has a great write-up on them in today’s issue. The JETS are doing extremely well with all the social intangibles (“intangibles” means social metrics that don’t necessarily have an impact on ROI) such as social mentions; they lead the NFL with 1 million; twitter following, they have the largest; and Facebook fans, they have the third most among NFL teams. These are all great stats but the JETS are also excelling at something most other teams and brands for that matter haven’t figured out, SOCIAL SELLING.
Here are some ways the team is using social to generate revenue and directly impact it’s bottom line (taken directly from the WSJ article) “The team’s Fireman Ed Chant app ($1.99) is the second-best selling paid sports app on iTunes. Their Ultimate Fan app on Facebook, which allows fans to make predictions and stage virtual tailgates, has four sponsors, making it a rare revenue-generating Facebook app for a sports team.”
The JETS are also utilizing social apps such as Twitter and Foursquare to better the customer service experience. They use Foursquare to upgrade your seats if you check-in at a game and they leverage Twitter to, “solicit advice from fans on everything from staging rallies to the stadium experience.”
The JETS have figured out the answer to the social paradox; creating and implementing a social strategy that has actual benchmarks, real sales metrics and a positive, measurable impact on ROI. Even if you aren’t a fan of the team you have to admit they’ve gotten something right (aside from Hard Knocks).
A sound testament to this is the fact that the JETS are already planning to increase the social media component of sponsorships to 50%. That’s up 40% from this year. That should be a call to arms for all social strategists – Social Selling does work and when you can provide meaningful metrics and demonstrate the impact on ROI, you will be rewarded with larger budgets to do even greater more innovative things in your space. To that I say, “J-E-T-S! JETS. JETS. JETS!”