Failing with Social Media?

Mark  Ryan

October 27, 2010

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It’s easy to fail at Social Networking. First look at the fact that you could spend $100.00 on PPC in 1 hour and drive 50-200 qualified visitors to your site and convert those visitors to customers at a standard rate (1% – 20%). Driving 50-200 qualified visitors from a Social Networking site could take 40 hours and a lot of creativity. There is no well published standard rate that I know of at which these (social) visitors would convert to leads/customers. The amount of effort and creativity required to do social correctly, is tuff.

In research at Extractable visitors that navigate to your site from a Social Networking site such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc will abandon at a significantly higher rate. But don’t despair, there is a right way to make Social Networking a profitable and effective channel.

When an organization wants to start or improve a Social Networking campaign, one critical question should be asked:

  • Is my conversion event on my site (i.e. amazon.com), on the social networking site (i.e. Zynga), or elsewhere on a 3rd party site (i.e. Ford Mustang)

For this blog post, we are assuming that the answer is that the conversion event (i.e. lead generation) is happening on your corporate site. When we ask an organization what they want to achieve with a Social Campaign, we often get 2 answers:

1. A visitor will navigate from our corporate site to our social page then read our social posting and (1) ‘like’ what we say, (2) their peers will see that and (3) they will visit our site – in this manner the goal is to drive ‘qualified’ visitors from the social page to the corporate site to convert.

Social Driven Traffic

OR

2. The visitor will (1) navigate to the social page, (2) read frequent (or infrequent) updates and (3)increase loyalty to the company.

Social Driven Loyaly

In either case, a critical step in the process is either the visitor RETURNING to the corporate site or DRIVING more traffic to the corporate site. Each of these can be measured in traffic driven to social sites (repeat visits) and traffic coming to the corporate site from social sites.

In a study of 21 corporate sites with prominent links to their social profiles (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc), we found that companies that actively update their social sites (4-5 times weekly) with industry relevant information (not company relevant) are capable of driving more visitors from social sites to their corporate site than they drive from their corporate site to their social sites. Unfortunately, in all 21 sites, visitors from social sites converted at a lower rate than other channels (i.e. PPC).

Of the 21 sites, we reviewed traffic from Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Blogs, Yelp, and delicious. For the sites reviewed, LinkedIn provided the traffic that converted at the highest ratio while Yelp and Twitter traffic converted at the lowest level. In future research, we hope to analyze if different industries have better success than others in the social networking world (i.e. finance verses high tech).

With this research in mind,

1. Be selective in picking which social site you want to start your campaign on

2. Update the campaign frequently (i.e. don’t slow down) with industry relevant information (not company relevant) that your ideal customers would be interested in

3. Monitor how much of the traffic you are driving to social sites comes back, how much traffic is coming from social sites in general, and what rate do your social visitors convert at.

If conversion is the goal of your corporate site, it is critical to consider that the goal of social networking campaigns is not to gain followers, friends, etc. Let’s leave the popularity contest to Ashton Kutcher. Another important aspect that we noticed, social networking should be fun. People often look to social networking sites for entertainment. So have fun with it and make those ‘friends’ into conversions.