Measuring the return on investment is their number one challenge companies face with the future of social media. Choosing the right metrics is a challenge. But there are more basic things companies will consider first in the future of social media marketing.
Should we engage in social media?
Social media will change buying behavior by changing the ways that people interact and influence one another. Social sites have democratized information. In the past, B2B marketing was a 1-to-many broadcast conversation between a seller and multiple potential customers (think trade magazine advertising and direct mail). That's changed; the future social media marketing means prospects will get information from peers, customers, competitors, and anyone else who might have an opinion.
Where should we engage?
According to Gleanster research, LinkedIn is the number one social media site where Top Performers engage. Sharing links within email, on websites and in blogs is the second most popular place.Data from eMarketer.com shows that LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging are the social tools most successful for lead generation for B2B marketers.
Don't neglectblogging. It's your best opportunity in the future of social media marketing to share new content and become a thought leader. Blog entries also create content that can be shared on social media.
How should we engage?
The future of social media marketing will focus on the 2 Cs of B2B social media marketing: content and conversation. In order to create measurable ROI, you need both.
How do we measure it?
It's difficult to link the future of social media marketing to to expected returns on investment because so many variables are involved in a complex B2B sale.
Michiels advises weighing metrics based on the company culture and strategic imperatives, such as brand exposure. You can't measure social media with a single metric; Michiels advises four areas to benchmark as a beginning:
- Distribution. Look at how many and which channels you're using, and measure followers, fans, and mentions.
- Interaction. Count forwards, shares, and comments, and measure sentiment,
- Influence. Look at your reach and credibility, and your Net Promoter score.
- Action. Track how many leads, conversions and sales came from social media, or appear to be influenced by it.