This is the era of social media. With more than a billion consumers offering opinions, sentiments and insights online, social media has in a few short years eclipsed many traditional forms of expression in terms of volume and importance. As a result, the professional world is abuzz with discussion of this new form of communication and interaction, concentrating on its positive, even revolutionary, aspects. However, an alarmingly large group of pundits still claim that social media lacks clear ROI. In my view, since social media generates ROI more directly and with higher velocity than other forms of marketing, it’s considered the era of social media for a reason!
Media planning and buying is an area in which we see this social media-led advantage in bold relief. In the traditional model, advertisers and media buyers make and execute buying decisions and then wait for the results to come in. It’s often hit or miss, and mid-course correction is impossible. Nuanced feedback is virtually nonexistent and when insights are generated, they are delivered after the fact. Billions of dollars and thousands of people-hours are expended with little result to show. Of course, there are effective media buys, but they are rarely driven purely by empirical or predictive data. While hits occur, the ratio of hits to misses is suboptimal, a bitter pill to swallow in turbulent economic times.
Not so when media planning and buying is informed by social media. When it is, you benefit from immediate ROI and take the guesswork out of your decision-making. This is true for three core reasons:
-Social media provides real-time and contextual data.
-This real-time data, when deciphered and interpreted, enables you to make data-driven decisions.
-Social media is underpinned by technology, which allows for speed, meaning you can measure and react with no delay.
When these reasons are combined with a team that is ready to hone their skills and adapt quickly, media planning and buying can be taken to the next level.
A few examples are in order here.
Leveraging the social nature of TV:
In the traditional model, a media buyer contracts to purchase spots based on imperfect knowledge of audience attitudes. The spots run and the buyer receives feedback three months later, well outside the window of possible action. With social media, you gain feedback instantaneously whether on content, messaging or the theme of your ad; you learn what is resonating with the audience of a given TV program minutes after it airs! With that insight, you can make changes on the fly and either avert disaster or further enhance an already-popular campaign. An engaged TV audience with spot-on messaging results in more happy consumers and is a profitable win-win that pays for itself quickly.
Optimizing media choices:
In the traditional model, smaller companies with new and disruptive products and services are often locked out of media buys because they lack the incumbents’ financial muscle. With information and insights derived from social media, these companies can find alternate and more effective channels to disseminate their messages in real time and with high fidelity to audience attitudes and behavior. Social media democratizes the playing field for small and medium companies for whom attention and exposure are priceless, and again generating an immediate ROI.
Perfecting product placement:
In the traditional model, a media buyer spends valuable dollars to place an advertiser’s product in a media outlet. The decision about which outlet is made often with a gut decision based on limited information, and the resulting uptake, or lack thereof, cannot be measured with precision. It’s a shot in the dark, which not only costs dearly but forecloses on other opportunities too. With socially informed buying, a buyer can test the potential reception of products in real time and make data-driven decisions accordingly. This process leads to finding the most relevant audience and most relevant outlet, driving immediate ROI and enabling an advertiser to avail the best opportunity available.
In today’s world of media and marketing in general, ROI is not a luxury. It’s a must. By informing your decision process and actions with the data from social media, you can guarantee the most of your marketing spend and in doing so, immediately generate what we call an IROI.
Paul Dunay is an award-winning B-to-B marketing expert with more than 20 years’ success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology, consumer products, financial services and professional services organizations. Dunay is the CMO of Networked Insights, a leader in social media analytics, and author of five “Dummies” books: “Facebook Marketing for Dummies” (Wiley 2009, 2011, 2012).
Follow him @PaulDunay