US marketers are projected to spend $16.2 billion in social media advertising by 2019 (Forrester Research). Brands are spending time and resources curating content, sharing and interacting with potential customers on social media channels, and managing customer relationships. The question remains, what is the ROI on Social Media marketing? Are we truly harnessing the power of social and user-generated content (UGC) to drive sales and transactions?
The question is, really, how can we use UGC to drive sales?
There are billions of photos, comments and videos being created and shared every day by users who are telling stories and sharing experiences about your brand?
Content being produced and shared daily:
More than 4 Million Hours of content uploaded to Youtube
Marketers need to harness the power of crowd sourced and shared UGC as part of the marketing mix - with a focus on leveraging social stories to drive sales.
“THE TIME AND RESOURCES THAT BRANDS SPEND IN CREATING SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS, IMAGES, AND CONTESTS CAN ACTUALLY BE DIRECTING CUSTOMERS OFF OF THE PATH-TO-TRANSACTION.”
Consider how many brand websites have a direct call-to-action, and link to “Visit us on Facebook” or Follow us on Instagram”– taking customers off page to Instagram or Facebook. Some of those outbound links are even right off of the website home page.
In addition to spending marketing dollars on creating content for social media, managing customer relations, listening to customer experiences, and boosting social posts - brands are inviting customers to “Follow us” on social media.
- Ultimately driving the customer away from the point of transaction.
Brands are spending time and resources creating perishable pieces of content for Instagram and Facebook, that may not ever be seen by the customer. In fact, Facebook’s posts on brand pages will not even reach those that “Like” a brand page without a paid “boosted post” or Ad Spend - and even if it does, it is buried in newsfeed and cluttered with Ad content.
How do we solve this problem?
A Social Commerce strategy is necessary in this socially connected digital economy.
Think with Google advocates the importance for brands of being available at all points along the customer path-to-conversion, noting the multiple consumer touch points along the road to transaction. Additional research fromDeloittepoints to the importance specifically of social media and UGC as a primary source for researching travel (as an example) - ranking second (33%) only to friends and family direct referrals(50%).
There is no question that user-generated and brand-generated social content bring value to the customer relationship, and build brand awareness.
Ultimately a socially integrated sales and marketing strategy should link UGC to a measurable point of transaction, with metrics that illustrate the ROI in social media marketing efforts.
This is where brands can truly harness the power of user generated social media stories to drive transaction.
Digital and social media marketing expert, strategist, and speaker, Alicia Whalenhas spent over a decade transforming brands and businesses to take a "Digital First" approach to marketing. A recognized social media influencer on Twitter Alicia’s expertise includes UGC marketing strategy, Social Commerce, Digital marketing for Tourism, and the future of marketing in a digital first economy.