There remains much discussion about how to measure social ROI.
The question that demands the most attention, and gets asked most often, is the one about monetisation.
If we don’t answer that question, backed-up with measurable data, we end up having the same conversation with the CFO that we’ve always had, struggling to answer questions about the marketing investments we have made, and the sales we have delivered.
No longer should you make the mistake that measuring dumb volume, recording static snapshots of social media conversations and justifying the 'buzz' value are sufficient. This is a bit like measuring the volume of traffic of a particular brand of car over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Fantastic that you’ve got the answer, but it begs the question, “so what?”.
What brand managers and organisations really need are the reasons behind the drivers’ decisions to choose one brand over another. More to the point, how do you find out whether each driver is happy with his or her choice? Who’s about to change? Who is about to buy? Who might change brands from you? To you?
The answer can be found when you connect the right post to the right person and track it within your customer database.
Of most interest to the marketing director, the sales director, the CFO and the managing director is knowing how many of these individuals are customers, prospects, or are at risk of switching.
So the answer to 'what’s next for social media?' needs to be, in broad terms, connecting the thousands of individuals active on the social web to the individual records in your customer base, about uncovering the hidden truths behind the conversations and then converting that intelligence into actionable insights which underscore your marketing strategy. (And knowing who to sell to, and marketing to them, seems a reasonable strategy to us.)
The answer is about finding (not just identifying) the people of interest to you on the social web (your customers or those you would like to know) and creating a profile for each individual.
The answer is about maintaining the links between the social web and your individual customers (thousands of them, we hope) so that the insights take on meaning and become actionable, all within the context of your broader marketing programs.
It’s about using these insights, and the social web, to create trigger-based leads based on your criteria, leads derived from the real and spontaneous comments made by these individuals on the social web.
And it’s about social media analytics that are again mapped to individuals, not as broad summaries or amalgamations, or even trends. After all, the trend that everyone has a problem with a particular brand will surely mask the handful of individuals who are nevertheless actually ready to buy today. The trend deserves attention but not at the expense of the individual and the sale.
The future of social media is in fact a move away from social media programs towards social powered marketing (social CRM), towards delivering a message, context and compelling proposition to the right person, at the right time, through the right channel, with a real, measurable ROI.
Must close, my CFO is knocking on my door.