Recently heard from a CEO of a portfolio of CPG brands, "I want to show straight-line value for my social media efforts that prove I am selling more product as a result."
I get it. With finite marketing dollars, she wants to know why should I invest money and resources into a part of the 'marketing' mix that is an in-direct line to value-creation?
My sense is that this is not the first time any of you guys have heard a CEO/VP of Marketing/Marketing Director say something like that regarding social strategies. Of course, I launched into the categorization of metrics into three categories depending on the objective and the level of the organization we are dealing with and the positive sentiment, engagement and value that having a robust community around the brand can create.
This chart from Forrester does a nice job of breaking out the types of metrics to aggregate depending on the view of the client organization, but the only real straight-line value metric there is coupon redemption for CPG brands. The sales figure for CEO's is a lagging indicator and takes time in the CPG/Distribution channel to measure and even so how can you attribute a 5% bump in sales to increased activity from a brand's Facebook promotion?
It seems surveys are also a powerful tool in helping the CEO see purchase and frequency intent for people engaged in a CPG brand's social platforms. When a person is at the shelf in a grocery store and has a planned or even impulse need, your brand is the top-of-mind brand they reach for because they remember consciously or sub-consciously that they are engaged with you in the social space. Baselining those that are not engaged in a CRM/Social platform and those that are can show fruitful results in value.
One attribute of brand categorization that we get excited about at [wire] stone when we have the chance to build a social strategy for a CPG brand is the 'passion' of the consumer-base for that brand. If people are inherently passionate and engaged daily with the category or brand itself, then the work of an engaging, valuable social strategy becomes an easier task. For example, creating a social engagement strategy for a brand like Brand Jordan in the sneakerhead world or the retailer A.C. Moore in the crafting category is like lighting a match in a dry field. The people that engage those categories and brands have a high emotional investment and very much align their interests and passions with them. The task becomes keeping them engages, fueling those passions, getting them to buy one more pair or visit the store one more time/month. Then, being able to measure that value in engagement that we are able to measure the intent and propensity as a result of that social engagement.
Beyond couponing or special 'community' only deals. I think we as social marketers have to make sure we aren't drinking our own kool-aid when launching into a diatribe about how social creates value even if you can't straight-line it. We have to be more empathetic to the position of the client in wanting proof that this new, emerging space is creating value. This is especially true if they are a 'distribution' business, which means that the more distribution they get on the shelf, the better sales will be. It is our job to help them get that distribution into the channel and then drive people to the shelf to buy that product. Once that CEO sees how passionate people are on their communities and sees the sales line move as a result.