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It's my social party and I'll prove the ROI if I want to

In 1957 Dr. Lee DeForest, famously commented that "man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances” and only few years later in 1961 Decca Records passed on the opportunity to sign The Beatles, feeling the band had no commercial future – that ‘guitar bands were on their way out’. Today many people take the same head-in-the-sand approach to linking social marketing activity with ROI.  We’re told time and again that it can’t be done – but it can.

Saying you can’t link social marketing to ROI in a b2b context doesn’t make sense.  The two can be linked – but you need to know what you’re trying to achieve before you get started. Rather than starting with a massive campaign, test pilot campaigns where you can see demonstrable return.

Towards the end of last year I saw some great stories coming out of Walmart who claimed to be getting 10 x ‘marketing equivalent’ return from social investment on Facebook and Twitter. This is a great example of a b2c organisation doing social well. Putting out engaging content that resonates with their customers has reaped rewards for Walmart over the festive season.

Social marketing is like hosting a party. In the first instance you need to provide people with a reason to come, in the second you need to provide a reason to stay. Getting people to come to your party is all about the food, the drink, the people and the conversation. Getting people to stay is another matter.

So if you relate this back to social, you need to give people a reason to engage with you on your social channels, giving them something that is relevant, that is entertaining, and that is educational.

I call it ‘edutainment’, and one of the best examples of this is a project Oracle and LinkedIn have been working on. In partnership with Intel we’ve created Beat the Buzzword. It’s a game played between users of LinkedIn with their network of contacts with a simple objective – to guess the buzzwords used to describe different activities, and compare your knowledge against your peers. It’s entertaining, educational, social and highly sharable. But no, ‘edutainment’ doesn’t feature as a buzzword!

Another approach is to create exclusive and educational content that captures the imagination, like the work Oracle is doing at Hope City, in Ghana. I’ll write more about that in the next blog, but we have created exclusive and compelling video content about the role of tech companies in helping to create a Silicon Valley equivalent in West Africa, and the opportunities this will bring for the region and to young people. The content is educational, but also very emotional; a vital factor in giving a reason to want to consume it and share it with their own networks.

Either way, it becomes the delivery mechanism for deliver great content to your social networks. When the time comes and you want to add in a demand generation element, you will feel more comfortable knowing you have great content. The key remains not to spam your networks and to maintain great, digestible information. For Oracle we employ a 70/30 rule; 70 percent information that is edutainment, emotive and exclusive, 30 percent that requires email or contact detail capture. 

By taking this approach we are now generating up to 30% of our campaign marketing registrations from social activity of which a high percentage are net new contacts so not only are we driving up leads passed to sales we are also increasing our market reach.

So, regardless of what kind of party you’re having, remember to give your guests a good reason to attend, to stay, to engage and more importantly to go away and talk about it after it’s over.