12 Social Media Questions for a Real Direct Marketer
Social media raise a lot of questions for direct marketers, not the least of which is, "Is it really direct marketing?" Well, Jim Gilbert has some answers for you. He's CEO of Gilbert Direct Marketing, current president of the Florida Direct Marketing Association and an adjunct professor of direct marketing at Miami International University. He's written for Target Marketing, Catalog Success, Retail Online Integration and eMarketing + Commerce for many years—and in fact he just restarted his blog on Retail Online integration. Suffice it to say, if your argument against social media is it's something kids are doing, not real direct marketers, Gilbert can put those doubts to rest.
Yesterday, Gilbert presented on a webinar "9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,"—which you can still see on demand here.
After the webinar, many of the attendees asked Gilbert some fundamental questions about direct marketing on social networks, and for an old-school direct marketer, his answers might surprise you:
1. How do you measure social media ROI?
Call me a heretic, but ROI is not as important as engagement ratio. Engagement ratio is the ratio is people who saw the post vs. the number of comments, shares and likes. I know that if people are happy, they will buy. When I use promo codes in posts, we can track results. Also, our call center is adept at asking people about Facebook and always hears things about how they enjoy our Facebook community, or that they looked at Facebook and everyone really likes the company, the food, etc., and that is why they decided to buy.
2. We're just launching a blog; what's the best way to solicit feedback/interaction?
Think thought leadership. In social, content is king. You need to create content that focuses on your value proposition and shows you as a leader. Leaders aren't afraid to ask hard, provocative questions.
Always write in a way that provokes a response. But back it up by asking a question and asking for a response. You would be surprised that something as simple as asking for a response actually works.
Once you have content, cross-post it everywhere—on Facebook especially, but also to LinkedIn and appropriate LinkedIn groups. Also create video content and a YouTube channel around your core competencies and become a thought leader via video; ask for responses there too
3. On social networks, we have a few really engaged customers who respond to posts, but overall most people are not engaged. How can we fix that?
Your job is to get them engaged. Think about the eight stages of engagement and what you can do to get them active. Ask questions-questions are a simple way to engage. Do simple picture caption contests. Start small and condition your followers via fun contests to engage.
4. What frequency did you put up videos or special posts on your Facebook page?
Two posts per day. Enough to keep in peoples feeds, not too much so they block you out.
5. Do you have numbers or statistics on how many people in the general population take the same actions you noted, such as checking out a Facebook page and other social media outlets to find out about a company?
There might be some stats out there, but I think its safe to say that smart consumers do check. As a marketer, when building social media properties, I assume 100 percent of my potential clients will review it. That is why I work so hard to build what I call a "shiny, happy community"-you never know who is looking! Tip: There are some tools out there that can help you see how many visits you have on Facebook. Also check out Google Analytics to see how many people come to you from FB and go to FB from your site.
6. How do you handle negative PR in social media?
Find the negative poster via social listening and social listening tools, make contact, and solve their problem. Negative posters are people who are your best clients (advocates) waiting to happen if you handle them correctly and fix their issues.
7. Did you test sponsored stories, suggested posts and ads for performance with your target audience on Facebook?
Not with the company in the case study, but I do recommend testing these. My goal when doing so is to point to solid content with sponsored stories that can help build or engage my audience. As I said in the webinar, my goal when building a social site is to have the site look like it is growing fast. I concentrate on amassing a lot of likes and worry about conversion later, once people see how my company is helping their customers be better at whatever my client is selling.
8. How important is it to use paid Facebook ads? Can things be done without paying?
These days nothing on Facebook is free-even reaching your own fans, as now you can pay to reach more of your fans with "boosted posts." The free things you can do are the contests and the freebies, and all the stuff I talked about in the webinar. I do advocate testing all the paid things on Facebook.
9. When Facebook first came out, wasn't it illegal to run contests unless using approved apps? What were you using?
You are right, when I built the company in the case study's Facebook page it wasn't "illegal" (good choice of words, as Facebook is really making it hard to build a fan base these days.) There are some good apps out there. Some free, some paid. I would do some research into what fits your budget and your needs rather than recommend an app here.
10. Do you work with legal on your contests?
Of course. I have a client now who has lots of internal rules. Lots of hoops to jump though and its part of the process. Some stuff gets through, some doesn't. After a while you understand what you can and can't do. Legal will let you know.
11. I work for a mutual fund company and we are struggling with our social media presence. What advice would you give for us, seeing as our compliance will not allow us to post product-related content on our social media sites?
I would sit down with your legal department and find out exactly what you can and you cannot do. I have seen some financial companies become thought leaders with blog content and videos that help their clients invest better. Not really recommending a specific financial instrument, but by educating the population in general about how funds work, are bought and sold, etc.
12. Do you think it's good to have a social media presence across the board, or to focus on a few channels and do them extremely well?
I always tell clients to pick the ones that A) their customers and prospects use most, and B) fit their businesses the best. I agree, its better to focus on the core ones that are a great fit than to dilute your efforts with all of them. Once you are successful in a few SM channels, you can always expand.