Recently the CMO Club reported nearly two-thirds of chief marketing officers plan to increase their spending on social media marketing next year. Their research found that more than eight in 10 respondents (81%) expect to link up to 10% of their annual revenues to social media investment next year. That’s no small bet.
Despite this deliberate shift in media spending, many of these CMOs are unsure about their return from marketing on social networking Web sites. TV, radio and print have all enjoyed the confidence and repeat investment by brand marketers for over half a century. Yet there is still a pervasive perception that social media is not as legitimate or proven to garner the same level of consumer eyeballs and interest around a particular brand. Given that the population of social networks like Facebook and Twitter are exploding, this comparison hardly seems fair.
In fact, the influence of the Social Web is quickly maturing and we’re now starting to see its direct impact on actual consumer purchase behaviors across the purchase funnel:
Most telling is the correlation between consumer social media exposure and their online shopping behaviors. Social media is a bona fide traffic driver to brand websites. With the expected growth of smart phone adoption and the mobile web usage, that linkage is certain to become even stronger.
Social media influence clearly matters, but how much of it is out there?
According to Facebook, the average user has 130 friends. For Twitter, the average account has 40 followers. While these figures may not translate into exact uniques, they do start to convey the potential reach and power of Facebook page and Twitter account audiences. And for some Fortune 500 brands, their combined potential Facebook and Twitter reach are starting to rival some of the most popular television properties:
- 15 F500 brands have a potential social reach that exceeds a single episode of American Idol (29.5M),
- Another 2 F500s have more potential reach than an evening of NBC Sunday Night Football (20M),
- Another 5 have more than Glee (8.17M),
- And an additional 22 beat an hour of The Daily Show (2M)
Check out the Fortune 500 brands in the Social Power Top 50 for combined social reach:
Imagine being able to tap into these potential audience levels all day long, instead of just a 30-60 minute time block one night or one day per week. While lots of large brands may have captured the initial interest of social consumers to “tune in” via channels such as Facebook, and Twitter, few have taken steps to capitalize on it:Few are Part of the Real-time Conversation For the average Fortune 500, barely a quarter of the brand share of voice directly comes from real-time status updates, which are quickly becoming a part of consumer’s daily routines. Photo and blog posts still eclipse Twitter updates as primary sources of brand social mentions. Some are Not Connecting Frequently with Fans The average Facebook Fan audience for an F500 company is 75,000; for Twitter it’s almost 13,000. Taking into account the reach factor of both channels, the potential combined social reach for an average F500 brand exceeds 10 million. Amazingly, 43% of F500 Facebook Fan Pages and 41% of Twitter Accounts have remained inactive for more than six months.
Most are Not Integrating their Social Presence Only 9% of Fortune500 brands feature any part of their social media presence on their website Home Pages. Amongst those who do, typically only one social media channel is highlighted. When it comes to cross-pollination of key social media channels within one another, the pattern is only marginally better at 12%.
Time to Unlock Your Social Reach
Still believe you shouldn’t get engaged on social channels until you have the perfect strategy? Watch out…if you don’t start tapping into your brand’s social audience, someone else eventually will. Here are three simple steps you can take to begin unlocking the power of your social reach to engage and potentially influence your consumers:
- Stop Playing Hide and Seek - Make it easy for fans to find you. If your brand already has a Fan page, then openly join, talk to the creators, start participating in the existing conversations and add a visible callout above the page fold of your Home Page, About Us and Contact Us pages. Don't limit cross-pollination to just your blog page; include visible references to all of your key social channels within your YouTube profiles, Facebook Fan Page tabs and Twitter Account backgrounds.
- Inspire the Crowd - Offer people something meaningful to do with their time. Invite followers to help shape decisions on corporate philanthropic efforts. Educate and entertain the crowd with demonstrations unique to your product or service. Challenge fans to come up with their most innovative uses of your product. Share some little known brand history or solicit past memories through brand nostalgia with classic tv spots, radio jingles, famous billboards or other memorabilia.
- Feature the Best of the Best - Curate and promote valuable content. Aggregate and feature the best consumer-generated "how to" videos out there for your product within your YouTube Channel. Create Twitxpert lists of subject matter experts and known insiders within your industry field and tweet your favorites of the week. Run Facebook Polls ala Digg style to uncover interesting bloggers and others posting content around relevant hot topics of interest to your fans and feature the results on your the Landing Tab of your Fan Page.
Superbowl season is fast approaching and with it a blitz of high-powered media for one of the single largest consumer audiences worldwide. But with the potential social reach power of Facebook and Twitter, many brands may already have a superbowl size crowd just a click away. No matter what you choose to do in these channels, maintain your human side. Your customers and fans will thank you for it.
Research Note: The Fortune 500 data cited in the above post was collected in 2Q2009 and represents the largest Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Account per brand on the individual day of collection.