In Social Media, Point-of-View Equals ROI

Marketers rushed into social media in 2009 like gunmen into banks, looking for fast cash and a quick way out. Typically, this resulted in a bad experience for all parties and a premature determination that this “social media thing” just doesn’t pay out.

To avoid such folly in 2010, marketers would be wise to follow these three basic steps to optimizing their social media ROI.

After 100 years of talking at customers via advertising, it’s finally time to heed the advice of our kindergarten teachers and learn to listen. It’s such a simple concept—just listen to what your customers and prospects are saying about you, your brand, your category, their passions, their aggravations and their world in general.

You can listen on the cheap by using the Search function on Twitter or free daily alert services like Google Alert or Tweetbeeps. It’s truly amazing what you’ll learn. Avaya recently monitored a Tweet from a prospect asking about their brand and a competitor. An Avaya representative engaged this prospect via Twitter and closed the sale 13 days later!

Listen closer
Assuming you foresee value in engaging your customers and prospects via social media, you may want to invest in more sophisticated monitoring services, such as Radian6 or Scout Labs. MolsonCoors uses Radian6 to stay on top of all the banter about its major brands, which allows the brewer to respond with remarkable speed to consumers who talk about its beverages.

And while these tools are great, each requires a sizeable commitment by the marketer in time of staff, a commitment that can and does pay off. Just ask JetBlue, which manages to enhance customer loyalty daily by responding to any and every customer Tweet within minutes, following 117,000 on Twitter, and in the process generating over 1.3 million followers.

Express your point of view
Once you are in tune with the conversation, all you need now is a crystal clear point-of-view that warrants and guides your participation. This point-of-view can and should relate to your business – but not in an overtly self-serving way.

This may surprise you, but a large percentage of consumers are actually okay with idea of brands participating in social media. But they are not interested in a sales pitch. What they want is your expertise, your advice, your attitude and, most of all, your point-of-view.

For example, Best Buy has amassed 13,000 followers for its TwelpForce on Twitter to help answer tech questions and provide tech advice. ComcastCares, the Twitter voice of Comcast, is all about raising the bar for customer service and has gathered over 32,000 followers in the process. Toasted Head Wine has made friends with 3500 devotees on Facebook simply by encouraging its fans to fire things up with fun questions, comments and content.

The reality is that consumers engage with brands that they like on a visceral level and that provide a distinct perspective on the world. Aflac’s Duck quacks up a gaggle of quirky content, including charitable requests that appeal to over 161,000 fans on Facebook and 3,000+ followers on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Geico’s Gecko has been left in the social media dust due to its surprisingly dry and unresponsive online voice. Ironically, a brand by definition is a point-of-view that, once clearly defined, should guide all communications, social or otherwise. When all is said and done, a clear POV equals an equally clear ROI.

Drew Neisser is founder/CEO of New York-based digital marketing agency Renegade.

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