A Step-by-Step Guide to Social Direct Response

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A central part of any social media strategist’s job is to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in newsfeed algorithms, analytics features and paid post programs. After managing social programs for a wide variety of brands, I’ve discovered that the best strategy is not to be reactive to these changes, but rather to authentically engage with users.

That means that, instead of seeking to take advantage of the latest loophole, engage to the point where customers — or potential customers — actually want to share their data (name, email address, zip code, etc.) because they are genuinely interested and want to participate. There are three important steps to achieving success in generated social direct response:

1) Engagement

Think of engagement as the foundation upon which you build your strategy. Approach your effort across screens and marketing vehicles so that your message reaches your target audience both offline and online. Remember, the consumer is looking for an easy and consistent experience when taking the time to engage with you, so allow your marketing messages to prompt a consumer action no matter where they see your messaging.

For example, Sprint recently partnered with The Voice to give fans of the TV show a chance to unlock exclusive, behind-the-scenes videos of the contestants. Fans had the opportunity to express interest, and Sprint responded by providing access to the content. This sort of interaction creates dialogue between brand and consumer while executing a data/content trade off. This balance between benefit received and information given allowed Sprint and the Voice to achieve specific awareness and conversion goals.

2) Conversion

Conversion can mean a sale, but it is so much more. Being able to learn about your core audience – those who consistently engage with your brand — will allow you to test and improve what you offer on each channel. To be able to connect offline (quiet) channels to social ones amplifies your brand message in a public way while giving consumers the ability to get something in return.

There is already so much time, creativity and money that goes into the content brands create — particularly with real-time social strategy during large events or holidays — that it’s time to make content that converts in an action-oriented way. You’re probably doing it already, so why not exchange valuable content that consumers want for additional information about them, which will allow you to further tailor future conversion campaigns as well.

Per our example above, Sprint and The Voice were able to capture social handle information in exchange for exclusive content. The consumer is happy sharing the data, because they get delivered to them exactly what they are asking for, on the channel they are active in. In return, the brand knows more about which channel and which consumers are willing to take action with the brand for particular marketing initiatives.

3) Measurement

Set KPIs at the outset of your campaigns and measure against them. It’s time to move beyond engagement and impressions to focus on metrics and calls-to-action that map to specific business goals. Use your metrics as a way to assess and improve. Social direct response provides terrific feedback mechanisms, allowing marketers to measure and answer key questions in new ways, such as, “What messages resonate most with which customers in which social channels?” and “What activation mechanisms are most effective for our target market?” Take advantage of the opportunity to measure, test and improve your results.

There is a lot to keep up with in social. The good news is that you can build a strategy with social direct response that, while watching the latest changes to the social networks, doesn’t mean you have to constantly change your strategy. Your decisions are based on your specific audience and what they are willing to do, not what everyone else is doing. While your individual tactics may change, keeping an eye on higher-level goals that drive higher interest and intention from consumers will keep your marketing programs running efficiently and effectively while returning dividends to the business.