Social marketers often know what tools and resources are worth spending money on, but advocating for that budget, and working with the C-suite to allocate said budget, proves the greater challenge. We spoke with Rajesh Kari, Vice President and Business Leader at Infovision Social, about this exact matter ahead of his appearance at next week's Social Shake-Up Show in Atlanta.
Rajesh shared his advice on advocating for social budgets to the C-Suite, what KPIs are worth monitoring in 2019, how to approach organizing your social demographics into appropriate audience segments and more.
Social Shake-Up: Many social media managers find their C-suite is reluctant to give them the budget they need to run paid social campaigns or purchase third-party tools to help them succeed. What's your advice for making the argument for these resources to executives?
Rajesh Kari: To get support from the C-suite, it needs to be ensured that the marketers should put themselves in the C-suite's shoes to understand what is crucial for them to show a possible forecast around ROI.
One of the best ways to get the ideas passed from the C-suite without much scrutiny would be by allocating the levels of risk associated with the various activities planned for. The activities can be categorized either into 'low-risk' or 'high-risk' buckets. 'Low-risk' includes the activities that have in the past shown to have had a positive outcome for the company in the past. This can bring in a stable ROI for the company. 'High-risk' includes activities for which the ROI can’t be justified as there is no past data available.
These activities have 'high-risk' associated with them, but also have the capability of bringing in much higher ROI for the company. A marketer should plan for a mix of activities, most of it should be 'low-risk,' and only a small fraction of 'high-risk.'
While communicating the plan there also needs to be a clarity of thought in the objective and diligence in communication. It is imperative that they bring in the fact and figures from the past to showcase their success rate in implementing the similar social media marketing strategies.
SSU: Budget allocation is a critical task for any organization. How can we determine to spend the marketing budget in an optimal way?
RK: There are multiple factors required to make a perfect recipe, and allocating the right budget is one of the key ingredients. Spending the right budget in an optimal way drives success for a business.
Once the budget is allocated, there is a need for clarity on what the social media marketing goals are and how they relate to the overall business goal. Sticking to not more than two primary goals helps in a better outcome. For each of the social media marketing goals, specific marketing objectives need to be set.
Other essential factors that can help decide how to spend the budget are:
- Identifying the right customers: If there is low engagement on the social profiles of the business, it can usually be because of not targeting the right customers
- What are the market trends: To effectively plan where to allocate budget, gathering competitive intelligence gives an idea of what’s working and what’s not
- Channel ROI: Before allocating the budget for each platform there is a need to look at the cost for each channel and the potential ROI
- Identifying Content Strategy: Being present on social media without a good content strategy is meaningless. It needs to be identified by a quick research what type of content works for different channels.
The social media marketing strategy might not always work. Based on the competition, market and customer current needs, companies should be ready to adapt quickly and modify the budget allocation to include additional digital outreach with the social media marketing efforts, along with spending more on channels that are optimized towards their audience.
SSU: What do you see as the most crucial KPIs for brands to monitor in 2019? Any metrics that you think should be disregarded or de-prioritized?
RK: To understand our current predicament, it’s crucial to comprehend the wise quote by Karen Backstein about blind men and the elephant, “You are all right. But you are all wrong too. For each of you touched only one part of the animal.”
Measuring brands’ performance metrics in isolation is the heaviest baggage that we can carry in this ever-changing social media atmosphere. Evaluating metrics such as awareness, reach, sentiment, engagement, etc. as standalone performance indicators, is fast proving to be misguided for those making critical business decisions. As we blindly measure one social media metric after another in seclusion, our narrow vision is bound to produce narrow results, which are incomplete, and sometimes even provide an inflated sense of brand success!
We need to understand the interconnectedness of these essential metrics. My team at Infovision Social takes a consultative approach to each business problem. Because we recognize every business problem is unique, we modify our social solutions by recasting our dies every time.
An excellent way to tackle a business problem would be to understand the levers that effect, then come up with advanced social metrics surrounding it. For example, we created an entirely new index to measure ‘convenience’ for a large U.S. retail brand, integrating several social KPIs.
In another case, for one of the top F&B clients, we came up with a new way of calculating brand’s ‘likeability.’ We did an in-depth secondary study and social research, to arrive at a predictive model for answering questions on PR profitability and PR impact for one of our clients.
Brands are now asking the right questions to understand what makes them tick with the customer. Why not answer them by creating a well-rounded framework of social metrics, which is tailor-made for each brand/industry. Why not help brands see the big elephant that is social media?
SSU: Are there any metrics that have recently emerged, or that are just now emerging as a result of new analytics technology?
RK: Within the rapidly evolving social media space, the metrics have also evolved, right from the basic metrics like reach, impression, etc. to the more advanced ones. Today's audience listening is not enough for the brands, so customized metrics are required to understand what’s working and what’s not. Brands are progressively looking for better social tracking and influencer identification techniques, to run more effective campaigns and gather focused intelligence.
At Infovision Social, one of our primary offerings is to cater to the business problems and design custom metrics that are derived to measure qualitative KPIs. A fast food chain might benefit from tracking their performance in terms of food and service quality or convenience, for example. Similarly, a transport services company might be interested in the customer experience. They should the factors impacting a convenience or customer experience in terms of wait time, customer satisfaction, quality of food etc. and then create a holistic qualitative KPI, like 'convenience score.'
Our in-depth influencer ranking methodology covers measuring connectedness, awareness and engagement aspects that integrates a mathematical solution to identify relevant & key influencers for a specific industry. Our metrics and ranking system helps evaluate the performance of the influencer post the brand engagement as well. This approach helps in identifying a relevant influencer network, which we leverage to analyze influencer awareness, measure brand affinity and engage them to become the brand’s advocates and ambassadors.
The most challenging question at the communications & marketing executives is measuring the ROI for their PR or marketing efforts. How we demarcate the impact of PR from a marketing activity and measure the contributions separately is a critical requirement. Measuring the ROI for a robust decision making process can be accomplished by considering the social metrics along with non-social, conventional metrics. Arrive at a consolidated view by performing a statistical study on top of the usual listening and measuring. Taking a statistical approach, in combination with social & non-social metrics measuring profitability, gives us the edge in making better decisions.
This is a tried and tested process which has won accolades from our clients, a CPG industry giant and a manufacturing industry stalwart. Comprehensive approach of identifying key influencers by segments is the one-stop solution to many questions that brands ask.
SSU: What's your top tip for grouping social media audiences into targetable segments, and which social platforms do you see as the most viable for effective segmentation?
RK: Understanding your customers and targeting with relevant content is the key to successful marketing campaigns in the digital space. Based on the business need and marketing goals, segmenting around demographics, behavioral, psychographic or geographic dimensions is suggested. The segmentation approach should differ from a B2C or B2B.
The business function primarily defines the segmentation methodology. A Millennial customer segmentation for financial/banking sector fits the bill. Similarly, a category level segmentation works for a CPG company. Aligning your segmentation with industry or a category is all encompassing the micro shifts and trends.
Twitter is the ideal platform to start the social media audience listening process on in terms of flexibility to perform analytics or filtering user your base. Understanding your audience and their preferred channels is critical for brand communications, rather than deciding the best platform for the segmentation. Voluminous & unstructured social media data, along with data continuity and relevancy, are the critical areas of challenge in performing tool-based social consumer segmentation.
Combining an approach with human intelligence and efficient filtering options from tools is ideal to start listening to your preferred customer/consumer groups online. Audience demographics, detailed by profiles, provide a rich source of information. Audience preferences, interests, profession, gender, location and any other demographic or psychographic data enables effective segmentation analysis.