With the rise of social media, interactions between businesses and customers/prospects have never been easier. Businesses push response-worthy content and prospects/customers on various social networks can respond in near real time. There is a new dialogue that has emerged. Early adopters are figuring out how to make sense of it all and there are others who want to play along if others get it right.
People are talking about thousands of things on the web and businesses are trying to chip in to strike conversations (light weight conversations) and start a personal touch with people.
A majority of businesses have the fundamental question: why should we interact? I have never done that before in an open environment. This question has been answered by various experts addressing different departments of a large business (crm, marketing, public relations, business intelligence, etc). I make an attempt to put all of them from a business owners point of view.
There are five reasons why I think a business should get into interactions on the social media :
This assumes you have some degree of knowledge of digital marketing (impressions, banner ads, ctr, seo, social and interest graph)
1.Interactions replace drop in banner CTRs : The Wane of Click through rates
Everyone agrees the era of disruption, attention, interest, consideration and action is on the wane. Disruption as the first step in branding and sales will be replaced to some extent by lesser obtrusive, more relevant, content prompts.
Disruption – you are going in direction X, look at direction Y.
Effectiveness of Disruption on the web seems to be on the decline
Even on the web, the click thru rate has come from seven percent in 1996 to less than .5% in 2010 [source].
Posting an update [status, link, photo etc] on a Facebook page yields an average click through of 0.1%, comparable to banner ads. An update with photo/video gets an average of 0.2% feedback [like, comment, share], this is slightly more than a web banner ad.
However, the click through will be limited to the captive user base [fans/followers]. The real challenge will come when businesses want to scale this.
More the fans/followers, more the updates, will give higher click throughs. This takes time, but smart businesses need to invest in time and money in this now than to do something in panic when the ctrs of banner ads will go further south in the years to come. The benefits of investing in this direction will far outweigh costs in the longer run.
2. Interactions bring brand impressions: The new reach metric?
The great problem that social networks have solved is the ACCESS to CONTENT. In the old days, I take some pictures, and send to the list of people I want to and have to call them about that. And to give any update, I needed to call them on a weekend and say what I was up to. The content that my social/professional circle is getting updated is via inefficient channels.
Social networks made this efficient. They took charge of what my friends can see of what am updating the social network with. So if I update an album, I don’t particularly need to tell my friends to check their emails, social network will do the job more efficiently and more like in real life than other ways – it takes into account which friends will more likely be interested in liking, responding to what I have to say and show those people on a priority.
A post update by business is similarly updated to fans/followers. [16% of fans see the post is immaterial for this post currently].
Now, if the fans respond by way of liking or taking some action on the post, the social network further spreads this in the network of that particular fan/follower. If the business gets back to the fan or fans, the post gets redistributed in the circles of who-are-predisposed-to-this-kind-of-content groups.
Hypothetically, the numbers look like this.
Let’s say the page has 100k fans. A post update by the business gets to be seen by 16k fans. The response to this post is 1% that is 160 fans responded by way to liking or commenting or taking some specific step. Each fan has an average 150 friends, and the stories that are created due to this = 160 fans actions * 150 friends = 24k. if these 160 fans come back with one more statement, there are another 24000 impressions this second time number could be higher or lower depending on algorithms of each social network]
If business posts an average update it gets 16k Brand Impressions,
If a business compels fans to respond, it gets 16k + 24k = 40k impressions. If a business participates in conversations, the brand impressions will multifold.
Most of these impressions, are among friends of fans – who are potential customers – similar to your advertising but advertising to TG which is similar to your Fan profile [homophily], lets call it Homophily impressions.
In one month, if a business has posted 100 updates to its 100k fans and gets a response of 0.2% and has participated in all the responses from fans, we are talking 100 updates * 100k fans *16% visibility rate + * 0.2% response * 2 = Impression count for fans = 1.6 Million
Homophily Impressions = first wave = 480k, and 480k for each participation thereafter. Surprisingly looks like Homophily Impressions can be increased drastically if the business chooses to participate in conversation threads.
The total impressions 2.56 million impressions is USD 2,560 at USD 1 per CPM. One can tweak the numbers to see various scenarios.
Participation in these conversations gives more subtle branding to Homophily TG.
Participation can be simple – I agree, X may help in what you are planning/thinking/doing (btw, X is mostly some tips/advice and not necessarily sales pitch) – light weight interaction
Participation can be mid and heavy weight as well, and this helps in more than one way.
With 1862 fans and just 5 posts, this page is able to reach 108,374 people, a factor of 58 times the fan base. [this data is from facebook; and I don’t know about other social networks’ multiples]
Identifying where to participate will be a major challenge for businesses. Who will participate comes next
3. Interactions stay online
Aid in brand bulding? SEO benefits, aid in sales,
Most interactions are permanently stored in web memory – with google, and other search engines, …. And are retrievable any time in the future for the next 10 years atleast?
Sharers, Searchers, Seekers, Standbyers
Google gets the shared info to seekers and searchers
Facebook gets the shared content to standbyers (atleast 150 friends), with or without the involvement of ‘sharers’
For the network of this fan, this object is broadcast instantly and for friends of friends and upto 2 degrees, facebook might show this….
For people who search on google, the results are skewed towards the content placed on social networks. One fourth of the brand related search results on first page is populated from user generated content [source]
4. Interactions are CRM /Touch point experience optimisation
The roi of innovation is limited, the risks are high. A low risk and a mid return pay off could be optimising experience touch point. This could be very well done on social media.
5. Interactions can bring new ideas quickly
A number of innovative ideas could come from interacting with real customers. In casual talks. Light weight interactions can yield powerful insights and feedback about products, service, after sale service, pricing, promotion competitors et all
When Paul Adams talks about the future of advertising as interactions, he could be making an understatement. He might as well say the future of Marketing is interactions?
(@venkatvp this is part 2 of the 3 blog entries that make up my thoughts on Paul Adams FMC talk , his blog and book ‘Grouped’)