A Social Media Strategy Engagement Primer

[This post continues AIMCLEAR‘s ongoing coverage of Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2009.] Your company’s Facebook account is an entirely different animal than your mom’s. Companies have a lot more at stake when it comes to social media. Research, strategy development and a clear plan for measurement are a crucial prerequisites to engaging customers in online social space.

Nan Dawkins, Founder and CEO of Serengeti Communication, started the Serengeti sponsored segment by introducing a few statistics:

40% of searches are for what’s going on right now. By the end of 2009 31% of SERPs will be blended.

3 out of 4 Americans use social media, but where should companies start?


Stop thinking about “Social Media.” We tend to think about destination when we should be thinking about people. We are creating the web 2.0 world in which we live. Take a step back. Don’t think about the places people are, think about how to make friends and serve the users and customers.

You’re not going to manipulate people into doing something they don’t want to do.

Reality check. You have to be measurable. But when it comes to measurement it’s not even close to perfection. Not PR, not TV/Radio, not even search.

But does social media have enough to demonstrate value? YES!

Up first was Liana Evans:

We all started off with: We need a facebook page! A Twitter account! and these too… (the slide fills up ominously with dozens of social media chicklets… dun dun duuuuunnn).

Clipboard23STOP. You can’t just jump in. Think about if it’s going to benefit you. A Plumber doesn’t need to be on Twitter. (They should be on YouTube, telling people how to prevent problems)

Is your strategy just a laundry list of social media applications? There are no cookie cutter solutions, every business is different.

Ask yourself: why should I be in social media? How am I going to engage? Do your research and understand where your audience is.

For example: Pizza Hut was looking for an intern Twitter-er. They wanted to engage college students on Twitter. But college students aren’t there. They’re on Facebook (for now).

Who’s in your target audience? Where are they?

Forums and message boards aren’t dead! It’s the second highest social media activity, behind visiting video sites.

What is your end goal?

Do you want to sell your product, use as customer service or lift the buzz? If you go out on twitter and you don’t know what your goal is, how do you know if you’re successful?

Go where your audience is. What you do is just as important as where you go. Look at the communities and discover the nuances. In some communities you have to soft-sell or they’ll kick you out some communies you can be a bit more brash and hard-sell.

Understand conversations.

Where do you fit into THEIR world? And how can you add value? If you can’t give them value they will reject you as spam.

Applying marketing tactics in absence of strategy is no better than doing nothing at all.

Nathan Linnell, Director of analytics next presented ways to measure social media ROI.

Yes, Virginia, it is possible!

But, there are no plug-and-play solutions. It requires some elbow grease and data aggregation.

Where can impact be observed?


  • Corporate websites
  • Company blogs
  • Sponsored communities

External Online From:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Yelp

External Offline: focus groups and surveys to conduct before and after.

Internal web analytics:


Corporate website

Enterprise generated media (EGM)

  • Company blogs
  • Company forums
  • Website’s analytics package

External sites.

What to measure:

  • Direct traffic brand searches (Look at the correlations between the two. It’s not an exact science, but a good indicator.)
  • Visits referred by key social media sites
  • Social media referred visits attributed to company’s social media efforts
  • Conversions generated from social media
  • Other site behavior of social media referred traffic compared to other channels (engagement metrics)

Blogs and Communities:

  • Subscribers (views and clicks)
  • Comments/posts
  • Incoming links
  • Retweets of posts
  • Unique visitors
  • Members

Social sites such as:


  • Fan page / active fans
  • Media consumption
  • Total interactions (Likes, comments, wall posts)


  • Followers (unique/quality)
  • Retweets
  • Mentions (not just from your followers) compare this to your competitors!
  • Brand mentions



  • Page views
  • Subscribers
  • Friends
  • Comments


  • Views
  • Ratings
  • Comments
  • Favorite

Sources of Data

Monitoring Tools:

Aggregated view of buzz across web:

  • Volume of mentions
  • Brand, competitors and topic
  • Share voice(don’t just jump in when someone talks about you)
  • Share by social media type
  • Top sources/locations (what are top sources that have to most mention of my brand & how big are those communities. Look at alexa data)
  • Sentiment
  • Influencers

Not a single source solution:

-          “total volume” of buzz not true measure. Many need passwords

-          Still need specific metrics from ind


-          Offline focus groups etc.

Build Measurement Framework

Financial impact:

  • Revenue generated
  • Cost savings
  • Cost avoidance (call center customer service)

Non-Financial Impact:

  • Brand awareness
  • Purchase intent
  • Willingness to recommend product


Define what constitutes success:

  • Branding goals
  • Direct sales or lead gen?
  • Both

Think about the buying process, it will keep you focused on most important metrics.

Map metrics to goals:

  • Quality, not quantity
  • It’s all in the combination
  • What suggests action?

Figure out:

  • Do I have the right tools?
  • Who? (Stakeholders & data gatekeepers)
  • How? (Integration & aggregation)

Never implement what you can’t measure because you’ll never know if you were successful. ROI measures are what management wants to see, and they write your checks.


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