Return on Investment

BOSTON -— Social media marketing programs are sexy. But do you know what’s even sexier? Social media marketing programs that tie directly back into sales, conversions and strong leads.

SAP North America’s social media program was featured during this morning’s keynote on Day 1 of the Gilbane Conference here at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.

Third Party Metrics

Gerry Moran, head of social media for SAP North America,said SAP has a metric that directly ties its social media programs into sales. Speaking to an audience of several hundred, Moran explained that his organization uses a third-party vendor that provides mechanisms that tie social media engagement and activity back to revenue.

The software system tracks links and codes that convert social media activity on Twitter, blogs and other forums back to sales, conversions and leads. These performance metrics can show how customers’ social media engagement with SAP tie directly back into revenue.

Not too shabby since all we hear in the social media marketing sphere is that C-Suite cares only about its ability to produce ROI. It’s a “what have you done for me lately” kinda world, and likes and retweets aren’t exactly doing anything for CEOs.

It’s what keeps digital marketers up at night. Want proof? A software consultant approached us after this morning’s keynote and told us this is exactly what he's heard — how marketing struggles to tie programs back to sales.

Learning Opportunities

Brian Goins of I-Cubed in Raleigh, N.C., a software consultancy, said the constant struggle for the industry comes down to producing direct ties of marketing into bottom lines. “The main struggle for social strategy or any kind of content strategy is tying it to the numbers,” Goins told CMSWire. “What numbers relate to your bottom line?”

Goins, who develops content for a company blog, said he was impressed with one keynote speaker who stressed it’s not about what you have done but what your customers want.

SAP’s Social Strategy

So what works for SAP? Here are a three key strategies SAP deploys in its social media platforms:

  • Building a set of rails. Moran said his organization once deployed 10 or so social media agencies to run its programs, but that didn’t work out. It has since in-housed its operations, and each team is on the same page with governance and strategy. “If the rails are not connected, you are not going to be able to get the content delivered to the right contact at the right time,” he said.
  • Content conductor approach. When you need to ignite a campaign across multiple platforms, having four people isn’t going to cut it, Moran said. Have one person control the ultimate deployment of content, with input from others on objectives and goals for the content. “The content conductor approach proved valuable for us,” Moran said. “One person in charge managing it from end to end.”
  • Determine requirements. Define roles and responsibilities and make sure you’re all “singing from the same songbook” when it comes to your organization’s message. You will not say the same thing from one platform to the next, but there has to be consistency in the messaging.

At the end of the day, Moran said, you worry about whether someone is doing business with you and how your organization measures awareness and engagement against conversions. That final question is one for which many digital marketers would love to have an answer.

Title image by alexmillos(Shutterstock).