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This Is The Most Neglected Social Media Marketing Metric

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Social media marketing metrics are always up for debate. While some are subjective, others are based on a brand’s specific goals. However, there’s one social media marketing metric that most brands are neglecting. Return on Conversation (ROC).

Too many brands are avoiding the real point of social media marketing, which happens in the conversations. Yes, it’s how we truly connect to our audiences, but it’s also how we start to get to return on investment (ROI) for our organic social media efforts.

If you’re curious how this social media marketing metric can change the game for your social strategies, keep reading!

The Importance Of Social Media Conversations

One of the biggest reasons social media teams need to put an emphasis on ROC as an important social media marketing metric is because of the large shift social media is undergoing. Brands used to rely on word-of-mouth marketing and reviews shared across digital channels to inform and attract their consumers. However, brand engagement is now expected during social media conversations.

Traditionally, this has been deemed customer service. Meaning, it has been a reactive, 9-to-5 initiative supported by a call center or support team. But customer service in the modern era now includes the digital experience (DX). And it isn’t enough to call it customer service – it’s customer care.

Social media customer care – taking care of your customers through digital and social media channels – is at the center of the customer experience. The conversations that are happening there, both peer-to-peer and peer-to-brand, are helping or hurting brands when it comes to gaining new customers and keeping the ones they have.

Service departments like call centers and customer success teams are struggling to keep up with the strategic shifts needed to manage digital CX. And, as customer expectations have soared, the research shows that brands have only fallen further behind.

sprout-social-falling-brand-response-rates

[Source]

Customer service isn’t just a department or a cost to be managed – it’s the entire company’s brand promise and defines a large part of the consumer experience. Anything less will fail to support the consumer demands that dictate the landscape in which we do business.

Finally, as social media and digital channels continue to grow as the top choice for many customer care requests, most brands are still failing to meet customers’ needs with a social media customer care program, including the conversations that lead to ROC and ROI.

Social Media Marketing Should Be Conversational

Your customers are increasingly using social media to discover new brands, research products, and make buying decisions. As a result, they expect to be able to converse with your brand for assistance on these same channels.

Brand conversations on social media are a trusted, everyday part of the shopping and research process. This is why ROC should be one of the social media marketing metrics you focus on in 2023 and beyond.

In the new Publicis + Twitter study “#LetsTalkShop:

  • Ninety-two percent of people surveyed said they actively seek out comments about brands, products, or services on social.
  • Sixty-eight percent said their impression of a brand was changed as a result of experiencing brand conversation.
  • More than half of shoppers are impacted by brand conversations.

More importantly, brand conversations are just as important as brand reviews.

publicis twitter letstalkshop data viz1.png.twimg .1920

The study also found conversation is most impactful early in the purchase journey, which suggests people may be more impressionable during the acquisition portion of their digital customer journey (DCJ).

The research goes on to underscore that brand conversation — whether brand or shopper initiated — significantly impacts purchase consideration at any point in the DCJ. This isn’t surprising to us given our tagline of “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” and knowing that the self-led journey shoppers use today has them researching and asking questions right up to the point of purchase.

Additionally, as I pointed out throughout my recent book on this topic, Conversations That Connect, brands that use conversation to align their brand values with the values of their audiences outperform those who stick to content filled with clichés and facts.

Lastly, if your social media marketing metric for engagement is low, blame your sales-y and boring content!

The ROI Of ROC

Today, brands must rework their digital strategies to ensure customer engagement and conversations are top priorities. ROC should be your most-focused-on social media metric.

Why?

Brands must know their customers inside and out. They also must meet them where they are.

The ways in which consumers reach a brand are ever-growing. It should be every marketer’s top priority to understand which channels are used the most by their audience(s) and adapt quickly to be present there.

There are many opportunities for return on investment (ROI) from social media conversations. Or from using ROC as a top social media marketing metric. While some may not lead to direct bottom-dollar return, they do lead to a better overall customer experience, which in turn should lead to less churn and more revenue.

A few of the areas in which we see big wins, but soft returns, through social media conversations are:

  1. Answering issues or pre-purchase questions quickly (leading to retention or conversion)
  2. Being a “knowledge concierge” for brands with larger than normal or hard to navigate FAQ centers
  3. Using sentiment analysis for brand conversations to detect impending crises
  4. Or, from a positive side, using sentiment analysis for finding user-generated content and unofficial reviews/recommendations

customer acquisition example month of august

Here’s a quick example of an actual B Squared Media client’s acquisition and retention metrics for one month. Notice how much of the conversation for this product line is acquisition?! That’s potential sales!

Getting your ROC social media marketing metric right depends on prioritizing and investing across your team, operations, and tech stack. If you can’t get “there” internally, consider outsourcing to a partner who can.

ROC As Social Media Marketing Metric

Brands spend an enormous amount of time, energy, and money on content marketing and managing online reviews. Yet so few brands spend any time, energy, effort, or budget on their online conversations with would-be and current customers. Similarly, few brands use ROC as a genuine social media marketing metric.

We know based on research and our own client experiences that brand conversation gives companies a real-time chance to influence the path to purchase.

People aren’t starved for content. They’re starved for connection and conversation. Embrace this thinking by:

  • Auditing your social channels to see where most of your customer care (acquisition/retention) conversations are happening
  • Sharing content that gets people talking
  • Engaging in more brand positive conversation
  • Creating content that solicits or elicits opinions and feelings
  • Answering questions and complaints as quickly as possible on your social channels (i.e., social media customer care)

Ultimately, the brands that connect and converse in ways that make their brand more human, and their CX more personalized, will win.

Will you be adding ROC as a social media marketing metric in 2023? We’d love to hear your stories!

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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and social media customer care agency. She's also the author of Conversations That Connect -- a book all about social listening and social media customer care. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on the socials!
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