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Originally published in MediaPost


Social media created a lot of buzz and controversy in the past several years. But the main question remains: “Does it have an impact on sales?” And what effect does it have of marketing?

 

Two studies that were done this year aim to answer this question.

 

According to Ogilvy’s recent study “Does investing in social media create business value?” social media does indeed has a strong impact on sales as well as brand perception.

Main points of the study:

 

-          Social media exposure is directly linked with increases in sales. Integrated social media (social content + one or more channels) exposure is linked with significant increases in spend and consumption – for example, social media + PR exposure was associated with a 17% spend increase compared to the prior time period without these.

  • People who were exposed to social media + PR increased their spending by 17% over the previous time period
  • People who were exposed to social media + TV were twice as likely to buy
  • People who were exposed to social media were 7 times more likely to spend more
  • Social media + OOH exposure was linked to 1.5X higher likelihood of increase in spend
  • Exposure to multiple channels was most often associated with sales impact

-          Integration matters. Exposure to social content was most consistently effective when it was combined with exposure to other types of media channels.

-          Social media is the top driver of impact. Out of 20 channels analyzed, social media was number 1 or number 2 in magnitude of impact on spend and consumption.

-          Social media exposure is directly linked with changes in brand perception. Social media by itself is particularly effective and appears strongest at rapidly impacting brand perception.

 

As marketers we consistently ask ourselves what value social media brings to us internally. According to eMarketer, recent study by CMO Council and social CRM firm Lithium aimed to answer those questions.

The study found that in addition to building loyalty among customers, social media outreach has influenced marketing operations. Of those marketers surveyed, 55% said social media improved customer listening, engagement and conversations, and another 55% said it opened new avenues to gather and further market insights. 5% said it helped lower the cost of customer service.

 

I believe that social media done right does have a big positive impact on business value as well as help marketers build meaningful approach to relationship-building with their customers.

 

There are two sides to the ROI. The hard numbers in one.  And if you measure it right you will see increase in sales through social media like Dell saw on their @DellOutlet account or reduction in cost like multiple brands are seeing as they introduce blogs and communities that help answer questions with higher accuracy than your customer service every could. But there is also the soft side to it. And even though that is where the value is very hard to measure this is the most important, the most emotional, the most lasting attachment you as a marketer can help build for your brand.

 

Operationally I believe that social brings enormous amount of value to us marketers. Besides the reasons listed above, it also helps change our sometimes ‘drive-by’ thinking and allows us to focus on building long-term relationships. At the same time it urges us to shift to agile, real-time marketing. In the new social economy the best marketers are those who are not spending more than 3-4 weeks to build a campaign and are savvy enough to take advantage of hot trends and opportunistic approaches. In this day and age successful marketers are also those who are not afraid to reach into the wisdom of the crowd and co-create their brands together with their customers.

 

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