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Does the number of likes indicate growth in share of voice? asks Rogerwilco. Picture: 123RF/EVGENY KOSTSOV
Does the number of likes indicate growth in share of voice? asks Rogerwilco. Picture: 123RF/EVGENY KOSTSOV

As the role of social media in marketing increased in importance, the value of likes, shares and comments became sacrosanct. The more interactions on your posts, the theory held, the better for your brand. Now, however, brand managers under pressure to justify every marketing penny, are starting to see this for what it is — vanity metrics.

Rightfully, hard questions are being asked: Does the number of likes indicate growth in share of voice? Do comments on a post lead to a rise in the share of search? Do shares on your post lead to an increase in the bottom line?

Skewed marketing

While not implying that social media gets totally chopped out of the marketing mix, a clearer indication of the value of social media spend is long overdue.

When looking at the ratio of marketing spend in relation to revenue, the average spend should be between 7% and 12%, and if you’re managing 5% you’re doing well. However, with the social media giants requiring an ever-increasing amount of advertising, driving vanity metrics which don’t contribute to the bottom-line will skew these amounts. Since this is unsustainable in the long run, no wonder brands are questioning if growing followers really matters.

Sales transparency a must

But, as the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Just as much as the pressure is on the agency to justify social media spend, brands need to be more transparent about what’s happening at the bottom of the marketing funnel. This means trusting the agency enough to loop them in on actual sales figures to see what their marketing is actually achieving.

For agencies, the ability to work towards not only more useful KPIs, but also campaigns that are more effective, can affect the bottom line. In Rogerwilco’s dealings with clients, it’s clear those entrusting us with sales data arms us with a clear understanding of what type of marketing works, where changes need to be made, and how effective strategies can be applied elsewhere in the marketing mix.

For example, a client in the coffee industry provides a detailed breakdown of monthly sales, what products in the range are selling well, and those that require extra work. This in turn allows us to tailor content that boosts sales for poorly performing product ranges, or to fine-tune successful campaigns. Basically, the construction of far more effective granular campaigns. Moreover, it creates an opportunity to really show that our marketing efforts are working based on sales, not likes, shares or comments on posts.

About the author: Craig Hannabus is strategic director at Rogerwilco. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROGERWILCO
About the author: Craig Hannabus is strategic director at Rogerwilco. Picture: SUPPLIED/ROGERWILCO

All touchpoints needed

While sales-related data is key, data from other touchpoints of the sales funnel should not be overlooked. A client working in the financial industry is dependent on their call centre to provide potential clients with a quote once requested.

If the client can receive a quote within 10 minutes, a sale is more likely, perfect if the call centre can be supplied with a manageable call volume from the marketing efforts.

But if marketing is left unchecked, say through an increase in social media spend, it can play havoc on call centre requests. And where a follow-up call could have been done in minutes, it now takes hours, or at least long enough for clients to have forgotten about the quote in the first place.

It is here where input from the call centre manager becomes important, and shows that any marketing efforts, especially on the agile social media side, should be meshed with all possible stakeholders.

More than just likes

While the use of social media is not restricted to sales only, brands should revaluate its role in the growth of the bottom line. If social media is just a simple box-tick, then some difficult decisions are on the cards. However, the effective use of social media as a marketing tool requires brands to share sales data with agencies, not forgetting to loop in all the relevant stakeholders along the sales funnel. Doing so will count for more than just likes, shares and comments.

This article was paid for by Rogerwilco.

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