social media marketing, digital marketing,#smwa
Digital marketers looking for ROI on social media data and analytics that make C-Suite executives smile and open their wallets have the same problem as the men in Shania Twain’s life: they struggle to make an impression.

"Okay, so you're a rocket scientist. That don't impress me much,” Shania sang to potential men trying to measure up. “So you got the brains but have you got the touch?” (no, she didn't headline the Summit).

Making Your Social Case

Digital marketers need the touch, too. Here on Day 1 at the Social Media & Web Analytics Innovation Enterprise Summit in Boston #SMWA, it always seems to come back to the golden questions: Do these analytics on social media data lead to increase sales? Where is the hard data that shows our investment on social media marketing campaigns is increasing ROI?

One conference attendee summed it up best when he asked: “My CEO always asks us how this ties directly back into sales,” he said. “It’s still very hard to quantify it.”

He's not alone. The speaker during this particular session this morning, Wayne St. Amand, vice president of marketing at Crimson Hexagon, said the challenge with presenting this type of information to C-Suite executives is that “systems are not connected.”

“You have to do manual correlation at some point,” he added, “to figure out how to connect this stuff. … The perfect solution does not exist today.”

Impact on Brand vs. Sales

You can, however, share one important message to your C-Suite executives about social media campaigns: while it may not produce an immediate return on investment than, say, hiring sales staff, it better enhances opportunities to make your brand healthier. 

Natalie Kortum, manager in decision science at Dell, said in her presentation this morning that it comes down to timing.

“Why should I invest in social media in comparison to other things I can do?” Kortum asked. “The timing is different: hiring a sales guy is much faster for ROI than engaging in social media.”

“So you’re telling me I should fire all my sales people?” an executive may reply to Kortum, she said.

“No, no,” Kortum can reply, “we’re saying that an additional salesperson would not have as much impact as investing in social media.” 

Dell was able to produce some numbers on Facebook fan spending per year. It found, using what it called prescriptive modeling techniques, that in the past year spending per Facebook fan increased from somewhere in the $200s to the $500s.

"Analytics is not magic,” Kortum said. “You are the expert. In my mind it should be an even split between analytics and the expertise of the business decision maker. Make sure you check your analysts’ assumptions and consider running a test with a small subset. Be patient. And give your analysts time.” 

Know What’s Being Shared

Dean Praetorius, director of trends for The Huffington Post, said his organization’s social media platform is all about increasing viral traffic.To that effect, the news site wants to how people are sharing their articles. Are they publicly posting them? Or are they afraid of backlash and are sending them to their inner circle of friends on email and IM?

A story on Zodiac signs by the Post generated 5 million page views, Praetorius cited this morning. You would never think something like that would produce such an audience, “but,” Praetorius said, “people wanted to search it.”

It creates, he said a “cyclical pattern of reinforcing traffic.”

5 million PVs. Even Shania would be impressed by that one.