Social Media and its real impact on business

Judit Esquivel

19 July 2019

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Social media has been a subject of controversy ever since it first appeared in 1997, long before Facebook was born. Remember Six Degrees or Friendster? They are just a couple of examples of social media platforms that claimed to give you a ‘better life’. 

Nowadays, they have become a part of our daily lives, with a global penetration of 3.4 billion active users and an average annual growth of 9% (source: Hootsuite). This data clearly reflects that no brand or business can avoid having its share of presence in the social landscape.

But what is the real reason for a brand to be on social networks? Does it really have a direct impact on your business? How does it contribute to a company’s global objectives? Should social media be considered completely separate from the offline world or does the so-called omnichannel experience really exist?

The different aspects and uses of social networks

Social networks are the tools of the trade for marketing and communication professionals. Any results obtained with these tools will either be good or not, depending on the strategy pursued and the objectives set.

Today, investment in digital media is growing exponentially, due to its greater effectiveness and traceability compared to traditional media. According to Infoadex reports, there has been a 2% average annual growth in digital investment over recent years, and it seems inevitable that by 2020, for the first time, this will be higher than investment in traditional media.

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GRAPHIC – investment in advertising in 2018 (in millions of euros and variation on 2017 in %) 

From left to right: Television, personalised mailing, Internet, merchandising: signage and billboards, telephone marketing, newspapers, outward, magazines, cinema, dominicals)

However, it is now more important than ever that investments are optimised to a specific objective in order to achieve the highest possible ROI. Although there are multiple options, we can identify the use of social networks with three main objectives: expand our customer knowledge, boost sales or create an omnichannel customer experience. The prioritisation of one over the other will depend on a number of factors, such as the strategic objectives and business model of each organisation.

Social networks as a source of customer knowledge

  • In some cases, social media cannot make a significant contribution to bottom line numbers, due to the nature of the business model or product.
  • However, this does not mean that they are not a valuable tool for this type of business. Social networks are an ideal channel as a source of customer knowledge and profiling, thanks to a variety of actions that we can activate, such as:
    • Monitoring: In social networks, users express their opinions and share details about their lives. All this information can be analysed thanks to tools such as  Brandwatch, with which we can enable active social listening and alerts to meet different requirements. Other tools such as Fan Page Karma or  allow us to undergo competitor analysis using similar technology. 

  • User profiling: To take a step further, social media is also an ideal channel for launching surveys or panels that allow us to monitor critical aspects of our business such as: brand perception, product improvements, user profiles linked to the brand and much more. There are also general consumer insights tools that can help us with more generic market profiling, such as Global Web Index.

  • Customer Care: More and more companies are encouraging the use of social media to meet the needs of users, from the awareness phase to after-sales. The experience we have during these interactions is crucial to a business, as 70% of users will decide whether or not to buy a brand’s products or services depending on how they feel they are being treated (source: McKinsey). In addition, customer service tools with integration options allow the management of customer service across different social networks, sharing the data with CRM systems automatically (as in the case of Social Studio), achieving a 100% personalized experience at each of the different stages of the funnel.

Social networks as a business driver

Contrary to the belief of many people, social networks go beyond getting fans and likes, they are also a direct selling channel. Every year, the direct sales opportunities increase on these platforms. Currently, FB and IG allow direct sales from their platforms through the marketplace or with the labeling of products directly on their posts.

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There are also native formats of advertising optimised for e-commerce, in which you can choose the goal of generating traffic to your website (for more generic awareness campaigns) or pure conversion. Nor should we forget lead generation formats, including Lead Generation from FB and IG or the new native LinkedIn systems. With technologies such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, an entire inbound marketing ecosystem can be generated within the channel itself, with different integration options available for external databases. The results of this type of campaign are proven, generating leads with key personal data for an average cost of less than € 0.30, even in the B2B sector, as in the case of Santander UK Corporate and Commercial Banking.

As you can see, the options available today, including new creative formats such as instant FB experiences or Twitter conversational cards , mean that the only limit is the imagination of your media manager.

Furthermore, it is also possible to use custom audiences, integrating with internal CRM business data, or to create personalised audiences by levels of interaction and attachment with the brand. In addition, there is the option of activating tracking with pixels that can be personalised in each campaign or new options such as Facebook Attribution, which make the advertising impact in these channels much more qualified and selective than ever before in traditional media.

Social networks as a key player in the omnichannel experience

According to  Global Web Index studies, there are 3.48 billion users who use social networks an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes a day, and use social media to follow their favorite brands and seek information about products to buy.

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However, today, most brands are not really able to measure that impact on the final sale of product, especially in the offline world.

On the other hand, one of the most popular concepts in the world of marketing is the omnichannel experience as a key point of customer experience. This concept tries to make the user journey as simple as possible by being able to buy when, how and where you want, regardless of the channel.

This integration is more or less complex depending on the characteristics of each business model. In addition, and especially in organisations that depend on an offline service with sales teams, the online and ecommerce world is perceived internally more as a threat to their way of life than as a help.

But today, there are multiple options that these channels offer to encourage traffic to the physical point of sale, allowing full traceability of the user and building a more realistic attribution model.

One of the most common options is to redeem physical vouchers. These coupons do not always have to be of direct monetary value (discounts or offers), but can be pieces of exclusive content that can be of value to the user while conveniently allowing the business to trace their point of discovery.

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source: Facebook for business

Another option that allows traffic to physical store are purpose-built campaigns. With dynamic ads in which both the text and the rest of the options of the ad are adapted to the location of the user to allow them to reach the nearest store.

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Fuente: Facebook for business

And finally, we cannot disregard Francis Bacon’s notorious phrase, “information is power”, which we often ignore. Nowadays, social networks allow you to host your own information such as physical business and ecommerce locations. Having correctly optimized these platforms (including those that are not considered as properly social, as is the case of Google My Business) will have a direct correlation in traffic to store and business conversions.