Our ongoing Social Media Marketing Use Case blog series is based on recent roundtable discussions with social media marketing professionals. The series explores social media marketing topics with the goal of sparking open discussion and informing social strategy. Our last post discussed how lead generation is a very B2B concept (or high-ticket B2C) and how companies can utilize social marketing to accomplish this goal.

This week’s discussion centers on building brand awareness. Many companies jumping on the social media marketing bandwagon are doing so with the goal of building brand awareness. From local businesses to multi-national brands, social media marketing can provide new ways for the brand to get closer to its current customers. It can also help reach new consumers otherwise unaware of or disengaged from their business. The roundtable focused on how businesses go about developing brand awareness with social media marketing.

The Initial Brand Awareness Use Case: Get out there!

  • Many brands jump in with a Twitter account and a Facebook page. But without some sort of ongoing commitment, policies, and goals the accounts become dormant and whatever effort was put into them turns into negative impressions. It’s estimated that only 25% of brands with Twitter accounts are active!
  • Some brands that haven’t started on social media may be suffering from “analysis paralysis”—the need to get every policy and procedure in place before embarking on social media marketing. Policies need to be in place (you don’t want employees representing your company or brand’s voice in an unfavorable way), but you also can’t let fear keep you from getting engaged in social media marketing.

Core Marketing Metrics: Brand Awareness, Impressions, and Mentions

  • Brand awareness, a metric that has grown out of traditional media, has now been applied to digital media. Brand impressions are also a key metric and are often used to predict sales based upon prior campaign performance. For example, X media will provide Y impressions and will generate (on average) Z sales.
  • Companies use brand mentions on social networks as a core metric not only for measuring social media but general brand awareness. Counting brand mentions over time shows how much buzz there is about a brand and how that buzz changes over time, correlates with other media buys, etc.
  • Brand mentions are often used to see how new messaging has spread through social media. For instance, brands may track how many people have been using their old messaging to discuss or describe their product, how many are using the new messaging, and how the conversation shifts over time.
  • In some cases, agencies are driving these metrics as part of their overall branding strategy for a company. But are agencies prohibiting companies from doing more? Traditional agencies and their brand customers know and rely upon standard metrics; but how can they move towards using new media metrics to show value? And should they manage their clients’ “social voice”? Does it matter to consumers that an agency is the “man behind the curtain” for a brand’s social account? Food for thought.

Use Case for Building Brand Awareness: Consumer Engagement

  • Social marketing should be about engaging people; the awareness starts with that initial light touch; for instance, following someone on Twitter who mentions an interest that pertains to your market, a competitive brand, the use of a product in your category, etc.
  • Brands can take that initial awareness further and engage consumers more deeply. Social networks provide so much more opportunity than just brand awareness and impressions. Brand awareness is a good start as a use case, but social media marketing affords so much more. (We’ll talk about other use cases in driving consumer engagement in a later discussion).

Brand Awareness: Solid Proof Points, Elusive ROI

  • Bank example: An agency’s bank customer saw the average age of their customer drop by four years after they launched their Facebook page. Since there was no way to track click-throughs to account sign-ups, there was little direct ROI data. However, the demographic data were very telling.
  • How do you measure goodwill? Social media marketing helps to build goodwill between the brand and current and potential customers. Sentiment analysis and brand mentions can help showcase more positive attitudes among consumers. But can a business measure the ROI for goodwill?
  • Engagement can be viral. Traditionally, if a consumer had a positive experience with a brand, he or she would tell people on a one-to-one basis. With social media, that positive experience can turn into a viral brand bonanza. If brands are not engaged in social media marketing to build and monitor brand awareness, this situation has the potential to turn into a brand nightmare (consider “United Breaks Guitars,” for example).

Brand Awareness: Using Social Media Marketing with Other Channels and Messaging

  • Social marketing should be used in a coordinated way to drive brand awareness. It is not the only available method to drive awareness, nor is it the right channel for every situation. For example, email remains the primary channel for receiving deals, offers, or promotions, especially among B2B brands. Both have their value – and their place – in a brand strategy.
  • One last thought: make sure you understand individual consumer preferences for communication with your brand and adhere to them strictly!

How is your brand using social marketing to drive awareness? Let us know!

Stay tuned for our next post in the Social Media Marketing Use Case series on customer service.