There is a risk in introducing a social media campaign, since a company's brand and product can be bandied about freely among a great many intensely interested (and potentially biased) viewers.
“And once you start down this road, even if you don't publish the feedback you get, the audience can share everything on YouTube and elsewhere,” said Andrew Frank, who covers marketing technology as VP-research at Gartner Research.
Frank said he believes that b-to-b customers in particular have a strong inclination to share information on social media platforms and a greater desire to take that interaction seriously.
He added that marketers can either measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns broadly or specifically. A general metric, he said, is the Net Promoter Score, a method of ranking the tendency of customers to purchase based on their likelihood to recommend a company or product. Here, a combination of automated text analytics and human analysis can be used to parse customer attitudes.
“But this doesn't tell you what's working or not,” he said, noting that more finely tuned measurements of social attitudes about specific product attributes can influence the development of products and campaigns. This might include, he said, analyzing keywords users attribute to particular products or which allude to future trends. In its most sophisticated form, Frank said, text analytics can tie online comments and sentiment back to a particular message or campaign.
Frank counsels marketers, perhaps cowed by the current economic downturn, not to give up on social media in favor of more performance-based campaigns, such as search or e-mail.
“Even in a recession, marketers ignore this stuff [social media] at their peril,” he said. “It doesn't have to take a huge amount of capital. And I think that companies that keep their eye on the pulse of what people are talking about will generally do better in any market.
“If history has taught us anything, it's when you cut everything out except the most direct performance-based marketing activities, things generally come out worse.” M