Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | 7 min read
Finding social ROI can seem like a real mystery… David Kellis, Director of PR and Social Media for The Clorox Company, recently sat down with us to shed some light on the matter and offer his tips for proving the business value of social media.
We really didn’t know what our goals were at the time because we were embarking on a new PR adventure. That said, our first major move was to bring Community Management in house, instead of using our PR agencies. Our goal was to set up a unit of CMs that could learn from each other and build out our Social Media expertise and communicate that throughout the organization.
Since those salad days, we have adapted what our CMs do to fit in with the evolution of social media. They don’t manage communities as much as produce content for ever-emerging social channels as well as our owned properties. And as social media moves to more of a paid platform, we think about what the CMs role is in creating social content for paid social campaigns. Facebook posts and tweets used to be text based, with a photo-shopped stock photo, product shot or logo. Now you need an Art Director. I’m not kidding. And “Facebook first” is no longer the model for what CMs (and brands) should be doing. The channels we prioritize should be based on strategic fit for the brand (based on our content strategy) and reach. And our priorities for paid media may be different than our priorities for organic. Each day brings a new challenge in social.
Well whenever possible, brands should try to make a direct link between its social content and sales. Clorox has been able to do that in two ways:
1) We include earned social media impressions from our PR programs in our market mix model. This has shown that the social impressions are contributing to PR programs that drive sales.
2) We measure the ROI of our paid Facebook campaigns. We’ve been able to include a paid social media campaign in our market mix model, and one of the programs we measured had an ROI of more than 3X. We’ve also used DataLogix to measure in-store sales of Facebook campaigns and had similar ROI results. We’re currently testing a Twitter advertising campaign via Datalogix.
If that kind of sales ROI isn’t possible, brands should use proxies for sales such as purchase intent or consideration. Engagement is a bit of a softer metric, especially for the short term. It’s important to note that brands shouldn’t limit their focus to short-term measures. Engagement via our social content probably has the most impact on long-term brand equity building, which can be tracked and benchmarked.
I would start with revenue generation. If you’re starting with cost reduction as a measure of success, you are limiting your options. Cost-cutting is temporary — demonstrating revenue generation is what matters. Money and resources typically lead to great ideas. But you certainly need to be able to prove that an idea is great via some metric.
While I don’t think we can drill down to a share being correlated with a sale, shares lead to more earned impressions generated for our content/message, and one thing that has been proven in the CPG industry, via the Market Mix Model, is that a high volume of impressions generated over time, delivered in an efficient way (low CPM), lead to sales.
Certainly the industry is abuzz about the implications of social media becoming more of a paid platform. And it’s true that most of the major channels have made the move already to become more advertising focused. And as new channels emerge and gain traction from an organic standpoint, they too will follow the path of more mature businesses to become advertising platforms in some way. But similar to traditional and digital media, there will always be a role for earned media content.
1) The channels may change, but you should continue to create compelling content that resonates with consumers. Approach creative thinking about the role of your product in their life.
2) Determine the social media channels that are a priority for your brand, and the unique role of each channel, so you can develop discrete content, optimized for those channels. Content that works on Twitter won’t always work on Facebook or Pinterest
3) As you create organic social content, ensure it passes this test: “Would I put paid media behind this post, tweet or pin?” If the answer is no, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. After years of “quantity over quality,” aimed to defeat the Facebook algorithm, the approach now should be “quality first.” There is no benefit to over-posting “push messages” that aren’t meaningful or engaging.
About the Author: David Kellis is Director of PR & Social Media for The Clorox Company. He has more than 20 years of public relations experience and helped create the Social Media department at Clorox. His focus is on building out Clorox’s social media capabilities, including developing methodologies for creating social campaigns that can be measured by business results. Sometimes that actually happens.
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