Does successful community management positively influence sales?

As an integrated agency we approach each and every client brief in the same way, interrogating the business challenge in order to work out what sort of communications strategy would deliver the best outcome. Nine times out of ten, social media will be in the mix, whether it be managing a particular social channel or implementing a blog campaign there will almost always be a digital element included.

 

The majority of our clients are keen for us to manage at least one social media platform on their behalf. Most commonly we’re asked to look after either Facebook or Twitter or both. Our job being to generate content plans and to monitor their communities, interacting with users. The end goal is encourage brand engagement and in turn generate leads and of course sales!

 

Once we introduce a social media mechanic, we know that we need to demonstrate its viability to the client. What is it ‘worth’ to them and how do we measure this ‘worth’. There are a multitude of tools available to measure the ROI of social media, all of which are constantly evolving or getting usurped by a new kid on the block.  It’s therefore key that we look at the ‘science’ of measurement and critique it appropriately in order to demonstrate just how influential certain social media mechanics actually are and if they are impactful on the bottom line.

 

Many social media marketers have argued for some time that extorting ‘LIKES’ from the Facebook audience and then bombarding them with spam is worthless. It doesn’t convert into sales because the ‘LIKES’ aren’t from people who are genuinely engaged with the proposition. A recent joint study investigated how a retailing business used Facebook and if their engagement methods positively influenced sales. Instead of measuring the number of LIKES, they quantified the number of customers who saw the posts and comments also analysing the text to understand emotional sentiment. This way they could effectively categorise each user into marketer-generated versus user-generated and direct interaction versus indirect interaction. Their technical know-how also allowed them to take into account the possibility that people were joining the Facebook page as they were going to spend money anyway – not the other way round. The insights were pretty staggering and it was more to do with the interactions that look place on the actual Facebook page.

 

Broadcasting general content on the site didn’t actually influence sales in anyway – of course, we need to consider that the retailer’s content wasn’t actually that good and so failed to generate sales. However in this case, it was only direct interactions that actually influenced purchases and overall user-generated content influenced sales far more than anything that the marketer actually did. When we talk about user-generated content we mean people discussing the product or asking questions and getting responses from existing customers. It’s therefore clear, that if you only do one thing on Facebook, it’s to encourage rich interactions between users.

 

A good example of a business that’s doing this well is Shopify, rather than just posting links to their website or asking people to sign up to a blog, they are encouraging real time and online conversations amongst their Facebook audience – all of which leads to sales. The next question is therefore, how do you create an audience of users that will successfully interact with one another and is it via so-called ‘shareable content’?

 

We’ll be following up this blog with an investigation into ‘shareable’ content and its value and whether or not this underpins the success of social media platforms in terms of enhancing brand engagement and in turn generating sales.

September 23, 2016 - This article was written by Sally Fairclough

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