Let’s face it, while you may not spend any real money on your Facebookm page, or your Twitter account or your LinkedIn profile, there certainly is an investment in time. And time is money. And any time you spend money for your business it’s considered an investment. And every investment you make for your business needs to have a return which exceeds the initial investment.
That’s all just common sense.
So, let me ask you, what is the return on your social media investment?
I’ll forgive you if you need to do some quick addition in your head before answering my question, but you should be able to answer it eventually. There is a return on your social media marketing work. Perhaps that return comes in the form of increased traffic to your store, or maybe it can be tracked in online sales. Whatever it is, it’s there and it’s real and it’s measurable.
If it isn’t there and it isn’t measurable, then you might as well quit wasting your time.
In addition to pushing the hashtag on TV, Audi purchased a Promoted Trend ad from Twitter, and it hired Klout, a startup firm that combs through Twitter and Facebook in search of the most “influential” people online. Klout helped Audi find more than 1,100 people to reach out to about the campaign — 200 of them received an Audi travel mug and flashlight. Klout’s Audiphiles tweeted more than 12,000 times about the hashtag, creating a viral chain of Audi-related chatter online. The company then chose the best tweets containing #ProgressIs; the winner, @jetsetbrunette, won a trip to California to test-drive some Audis, and she also got to choose a charity to which Audi donated $25,000.
But what did Audi get out of all these influencers’ tweets? Did the Twitter campaign prompt anyone to consider buying an A8, say, or to go into a dealership to test-drive one? Did seeing the #ProgressIs tweets at least inspire an outpouring of positive brand feelings toward Audi?
The company doesn’t know. “Today the equation to measure that doesn’t exist,” says Doug Clark, Audi of America’s general manager for social media and customer engagement. Audi has a full-time team monitoring its presence on social-media sites, it’s constantly posting new content, and it has even held special events for the most devoted members of the online Audisphere. The best Clark can do to suggest that all this work has paid off is offer a study by Visibli, a social-marketing analytics company, which recently found that Audi has the most “engaged” fans of any entity on Facebook. Audi’s more than 3 million obsessives apparently outshine even Justin Bieber’s minions in their willingness to click the like button.
Clark concedes that, so far, he doesn’t have any numbers to prove that all this engagement has resulted in, you know, selling more cars. Amazingly, the company isn’t too interested in finding out, either. For Audi, Facebook and Twitter “are places where we know tech-minded consumers are active, where they’re seeking to engage with the brand,” Clark says. “But can I say that a fan is more likely to buy an Audi? No.”
Audi, like almost every major brand in the world, is jumping onto Twitter and Facebook in a big way. EMarketer estimates that 80% of companies will participate in social-media marketing this year, nearly double the number of just three years ago. All of them are feverishly working to get consumers to “engage” — to “like,” to tweet, to comment, to share. And they’re spending a tidy sum to do so. According to BIA/Kelsey, a media consulting firm, companies spent about $2.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2010; the number is projected to grow to nearly $8 billion in 2015.
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