2013 has certainly kicked off with a bang in the digital arena. Brands are scurrying to get the edge on their competitors, and digital agencies are popping up on every corner. One thing is for certain, social media is not going away.
Step 1: What are you trying to achieve?
Unless you are focused on the outcome you can waste a lot of time and money investing in the wrong channel. For example, a business insurance company would gain more value from increased SEO than investing heavily in Facebook community engagement.
Here is a quick guide to fit your objective to your strategy and how to measure it:
Step 2: Where is your target audience?
As a marketer you should already know your target audience fairly well. You need to understand where their attention is. So as we know Tumblr is great if you’re a millenial, but not so useful to invest in if you want to target moms. LinkedIn is a fantastic B2B marketing tool, but you wouldn’t advertise consumer products there.
Before I start defining a strategy in any country I make a point to check the latest statistics and technographics, which allows you to quickly get inside the head of your audience.
Check out the following resources to help you:
- Comscore Data Mine offers free stats and includes a social networking category that includes some data by country (www.comscoredatamine.com)
- sometimes looks at social media from an international perspective, but does tend to skew towards the US (
- Internet World Stats offers free up-to-date online and social media statistics all over the world
Step 3: Great artists steal ideas
There is nothing wrong with stealing ideas. Every single strategy I do, I recommend finding a best practice example (ideally in your same industry) and replicating their concepts and design. Most likely that company has invested bucketloads of cash into a great digital agency… so you don’t have to.
Pay attention to the following:
- How does the website look and feel?
- What is the website user experience (e.g. what is the call to action)?
- What content do they write about in their blog?
- How does their website integrate with their social media pages?
- How do they engage their fans on social media?
- What kind of content do they release in social media on a daily basis?
Step 4: In-house or agency
You’ve got a decision to make. You need to either hire a team of people OR get a digital marketing agency that knows what they are doing. Don’t think you can get away with just one person either.
The dream digital marketing team includes the following roles:
- Digital Marketing Manager
- Content Manager
- Community Manager
- Social Media Specialist
- UIX Designer
- Content Artist
- Analytics Manager
- Web Developer
- Blogger(s) or Guest Blog Manager
- SEO Manager
- PPC Manager
- Email Marketing ManagerSeveral larger brands e.g. Nike, Coke and Dell have built strong digital functions internally, but they have done so after practicing with several digital agencies and deciding they can do a better job. I suggest you start by hiring a Digital Marketing Manager (who understands digital), then pick an agency for a short campaign, then assess.
Agency vs. In-House Comparison
Digital Agency In-House Lead time
How long will it take before your digital marketing activities are running at full steam?
Fast Slow Correct brand voice
How correctly will the brand voice be represented in all online channels?
Risky Robust Cost
How much will either option cost (considering recruitment, training, overhead, etc.)?
Low Cost Moderate Cost / Risky Strategy
How spot-on will the strategy definition be?
Mature Learning Reporting/Metrics
Will structured reporting be available so you can track the performance and ROI of your digital investment?
Mature Seat of your pants Technology
How easy will technology selection and implementation be (e.g. social media management tools)?
Mature From scratch Community networks
Do you have existing online communities that can be tapped into to quickly spread the word and gain new fans?
Mature Current Legal risk
How great is the risk that you will break a rule, law or policy as you get more active in social media?
Step 5: Learn to walk before you can run
Whatever you do, it’s important you don’t bite off more than you can chew. For example, if your brand hasn’t been present in any social networks, I don’t suggest you go straight into the top 5, but instead focus on Facebook first (if appropriate), then build from there.
There are some great case studies of how social is being used by organizations (e.g. Zappos), but they require top down leadership and commitment. If you just want to generate additional sales, then focus only on that.
Step 6: But how do I calculate ROI?
In less than three years marketers will have stopped asking this question because the answer will appear obvious. But for the sake of argument, let’s explore it.ROI = ( Benefit – Cost / Cost ) x100
Basically put, your tangible benefit must equal or exceed your cost to achieve positive ROI. So what is your objective? A recent example I worked on was a leading shoe brand in the Philippines that wanted to increase sales revenues. We calculated that for the most expensive digital campaign to be successful, they would need to sell an additional 2,500 pairs per month. For this brand, that is only a 3% increase in total sales (as they have over 150 nationwide stores). The tangible benefit is easy to achieve and calculate, but there are immense other less tangible benefits that include:
- Brand awareness / recognition<l/i>
- Brand loyalty
- Word of mouth
In reality, calculating ROI is far easier with digital marketing than traditional media. If somebody drives past a billboard there is no way of telling if that drove them to purchase, or even what gender that person is.
Step 7: How much should I plan to spend?
The budget you should allocate varies widely depending on your strategy and mix. Large brands that embrace social media are spending anywhere from 15-30% of their entire marketing budget on digital.
A solid digital marketing budget would be in the range of $10,000 – $20,000 per month including paid advertising. For larger companies this is next to nothing compared to TVC, print and radio spend. When you consider the cost of hiring staff to achieve the same results, this same budget only caters for a very small team.