Can social media deliver ROI? Businesses that specialize in social campaigns and marketing agencies that orchestrate campaigns as a complement to branding, Website design and related services say, “Yes!”
Global brands and small businesses alike can derive measurable benefits from promotions, coupons, sweepstakes and giveaways. But when you're considering a provider, look closely at the case studies to learn how ROI is defined. In the social media realm, return on investment can reference:
Growth in audience members, such as Facebook fans and Twitter followers
Higher engagement of fan base with your digital presence, indicated by comments, retweets, shares and other interactions
The generation of sales leads, often defined as e-mail subscribers who have created a profile and allow relevant, permission-based communications
An increase in traffic
Sales through coupon redemption at traditional stores and links to e-commerce sites
According to a team member of Wildfire Interactive, a software-as-a-service company with a social-marketing platform, businesses get results in three steps: By growing their fan base, engaging fans with their brand, and finally monetizing on their fan relationships.
When choosing to create and manage a social-media marketing campaign, there are several options to consider. Here are five.
Wildfire Interactive. Wildfire Interactive offers online tools (as well as social media strategists for subscription-based clients) that enable businesses to design, deliver and manage campaigns. Capabilities include analytics that allow you to assess campaign performance, evaluate social behavior of fans and gather market intelligence. As a result, you can tweak campaigns in progress to get better results and create more relevant messages.
Acquired by Google in August 2012, Wildfire boasts that it serves 30 of the top 50 global brands, including Facebook. However, its promotional services are affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. Prices start at $5 (flat fee for each promotion) plus a per-day charge of 99 cents.
Constant Contact. Constant Contact is known for its e-mail marketing platform but also offers a social-media component among its services. The company provides capabilities to small-business owners that enable them to manage a database of customer e-mail addresses; create and distribute permission-based e-mail newsletters; send targeted messaging to customer segments; and track results.
Its social media product allows small businesses to run campaigns that attract fans and followers. Crossover tools equip you to promote Facebook pages to e-mail subscribers and facilitate customer sharing of e-mails through social media.
A social marketing campaign is free for first-timers and those with fewer than 100 fans. When (and if) the fan base grows, tiered pricing starts at $29.95 monthly.
SnapApp. SnapApp states that its purpose is to “engage and acquire customers.” The company facilitates marketing campaigns and sharing through social media as well as Websites, blogs, and e-mail. Content can be optimized for mobile delivery.
The SnapApp plans start at $249 per month for a single campaign.
Offerpop. Offerpop is a social-marketing platform with a suite of Facebook and Twitter apps that help businesses run campaigns using contests, deals and more to attract fans and followers, capture e-mail addresses, generate leads, and drive sales. Like the other sources reviewed here, the company has measurement tools that report campaign activity.
Pricing for one-time campaigns and monthly subscriptions is based on the number of social audience members. The service is free for businesses with 100 or fewer fans and followers. Tiered pricing starts at $10 per campaign or $15 for a monthly subscription (allowing multiple campaigns) for businesses and brands with 101 to 500 fans and followers.
Local agencies. A local agency can design and run campaigns for your business using its own suite of tools or technology capabilities from Wildfire, Constant Contact, SnapApp, Offerpop and similar sources. Full service firms should have comprehensive capabilities that may include branding, Website design and content development in addition to development, deployment and management of social media campaigns.
Pricing will vary but should be accessible to small and medium-sized businesses with a desire to grow.
Before launching a campaign or a series of campaigns, businesses should have a content strategy in place and set specific goals to get returns on money—and time—invested.
Julie Rains is a senior writer at Wise Bread, a leading personal finance community dedicated to helping people get the most out of their money. Get daily money tips by following Wise Bread on Facebook or Twitter.
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