Does a campaign’s success in social media guarantee the brand’s success in overall marketing terms?

Brands can’t measure social media success without knowing their business objective. In the early days, too many brands rushed in to building a social media presence but lacked a cohesive strategy that aligned with overall business goals. Social was and for many still is a silo, but it’s critical to align social media KPIs with specific business objectives. Brands should establish goals before the start of a social media campaign and determine what kind of tracking measures they need to implement upfront. Goals may include generating revenue, reducing customer service costs, shifting brand sentiment, improving operational efficiency, cultivating customer relationships or gleaning insight into target markets.

These objectives are not mutually exclusive. In fact, a social media program can serve more than one goal. While increasing revenue and reducing cost ultimately align with financial goals, it doesn’t mean that social media can’t also assist in meeting PR, research or marketing objectives.

Zappos has used Twitter to conduct market research for new lines of business. Comcast has a dedicated customer service Twitter account (@comcastcares) in addition to its main Twitter handle used for branding and company news. DKNY deftly avoided a PR crisis by addressing a potential threat involving copyrighted images used in a storefront by quickly posting an explanation and remedies on its Facebook account. Dell has found success with its @DellOutlet account in driving sales for refurbished computers, building to nearly 1.5 million followers and $6.5 million in revenue less than two years after launching the account in 2007. Companies such as Ford and Starbucks are getting better and better at integrating social media into multiple departments and business functions.

Brand metrics, like Net Promoter Score, are the best means to determine whether social media efforts work to impact the customer relationship.Understanding how consumers who follow a brand on social media feel about that brand and how that is different for those that don’t is really what will reveal if an organization’s social media efforts are working. NPS is a measure that identifies how likely users are to recommend a brand to others. This measurement captures both the customer service aspect of social (Zappos, for example, has always had an extremely high NPS due to its well-known customer service), as well as its potential for virality. The uniqueness of this metric, and the ability to access it from many syndicated studies make it a strong option for social media branding analytics.

This is not to say other metrics have no importance. For an e-commerce brand, tracking conversion and optimizing to conversion is clearly important. For an ad-supported site, knowing what types of content drives the highest levels of time on the site is central. Both of these cases, however, involve optimizing metrics for near-term success, not KPIs used to measure the overall health of an initiative.

The parameters for gauging success are different and hence the answer to the question- Does a campaign’s success in social media guarantee the brand’s success in overall marketing terms?-  Is a typical MBA answer. It depends! If the parameters to measure success are chosen correctly and those parameters are rated as per the norms, the campaign is a success. Measuring success is the key to this question, if the measure is right, you are bang on there.

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