How Do We Make Social Engagement Matter In 2014?

Posted by Taylor Haney on Wed, Jan 22, 2014

Another helpful post to add to our January social media guest blogs! Ali Hyatt, Co-founder and VP of Marketing & Product at Upward Labs dives into the goals of social media engagement and how to turn it into impactful conversions.

Ali HyattAli is the cofounder and head of marketing & product for Upward Labs, which is self-serve software for brands to create and manage their own ambassador programs.  Brands use the software to track and amplify both online and in-person social behavior.  Ali was previously a brand strategist at Interbrand and Desgrippes Gobe, launching brands for Hulu, Victoria’s Secret, Kmart, Moet Chandon and American Express, and the digital strategy manager for Avery Office Products.  Ali was also a past MITX Future Leaders Group member.  Follow her @UpwardLabs or @arrobbins.

Let’s be honest.

You want your consumers and fans to engage with you online, liking you on Facebook, pinning your products on Pinterest, tagging you on Instagram. But, in the end, what you really want is for that engagement to contribute to something meaningful for you, whether it be a new customer introduction, a sale, etc. You want it to impact conversion.

So, is 2014 the year social translates beyond engagement? An Emarketer study highlights that for 2013, the primary metric for social media marketing was engagement, with increased sales nipping on its heels behind it. This isn’t something drastically new. In fact, when the survey was done in 2011, sales was the number one factor, that is, until marketers realized that tracking sales on social media marketing was really, really hard.

upwardlabs blog

So how do we make social engagement translate into engagement for results?

1. Pick the right platform.

The same Emarketer study showcases that over 60% of brands use between 6 and 9 different social platforms. That’s a lot! A larger brand may be able to handle that successfully with enough people or the right agency, but a small to medium sized brand often flounders having to figure out the strategy for each one. The “Who” should most certainly guide the choice to start.

Is it where my target audience lives?
Can it drive leads or awareness for my brand?

Maybe you are the right brand to do some experimenting with WhatsApp or Kik. Maybe it makes sense to enhance your Google+ strategy. Whatever you do, the “Who” should drive the strategy.

2. Find ways to be authentic.

Facebook is scrapping Sponsored Stories in April for many reasons, but it seems that amidst all the legal issues, Facebook users just don’t think it’s authentic for brands to feature users’ statuses and check-ins in marketing. In our own customers’ programs at Upward Labs, we often see that it’s the loyal brand advocates who identify new and interesting ways to interact with their favorite brands authentically. This can include finding new ways to incorporate products or offerings into their daily lives, showcasing them at a school fair or hosting dinner parties. Then, they want to talk about these experiences on social media, on their blogs, etc. Translating the in-person brand experience into unique and authentic content for social media can be immensely powerful. In other words, ask your advocates what experiences matter to them and follow their cues.

3. Tell the right story.

Brand storytelling seems to be a big buzzword right now. It’s not exactly new. It’s been around throughout the history of advertising, as we’re often reminded by Mad Men.

But, now it’s about applying it to social media and content marketing.

First, it’s got to be shareable for mobile. Then, it has to be consumable in bite-sized pieces for social media. It has to be informative, entertaining and needs to hit on either humor or emotion. Hey, it’s hard.

If the story’s authentic, however, the right platform can be the perfect launchpad for a great story. The HBO series Girls recently launched a Snapchat account and campaign, sharing the leadup to the series premiere and some shots from the Red Carpet premiere. It makes a lot of sense that Girls would have a narrative featuring its characters’ quirks. It’s a fit with both the TV characters and the show’s demographic. The story fits for mobile, social and content. The right stories, told the right way, win.

4. Set up goals that are attainable, yet make an impact.

Finally, let’s cycle back to the numbers. Do additional fans or followers actually mean additional sales? Or are they just coming for a free sample and leaving?

Sometimes, the awareness is worth it, but you really have to assess that. Does it truly fit into the company goals? We witnessed that when our customers looked at the analytics and sales impact ROI in our software, it was clear that getting their best customers to do more social marketing on their behalf was just much more powerful than increasing their number of fans. User-generated content (another fun buzzword) clearly came out on top. Every case is different, but be sure to focus on the hand that feeds you.

So hey, it’s still January. Take some time to figure out how you make social engagement matter for 2014. Because, of course, who knows what new hot social media thing is just around the corner, waiting for its hype.