Everybody knows what social media is, but few know how to take advantage of its potency. In a highly illuminating update, the McKinsey Quarterly lays out social media’s core functions. Since General Motors made news today by its decision to stop paid advertising on Facebook perhaps it needs some McKinsey help. A GM official decided that paid ads have little impact on consumer’s car purchases. General Motors’ paid advertising commitments are among the highest in the world. Although the investment in Facebook was not huge, the decision is liable to have profound implications for both Facebook and General Motors.
So how can you best use social media?
The McKinsey study enables targeted marketing responses at 10 touch points along what it calls the “consumer decision journey.” One of the ten—monitoring what people do and say—is so important that McKinsey says it’s the core function of social media. The other nine uses of social media easily fit into three categories.
- Monitoring. Brand monitoring—awareness of what’s being said about your products and services—makes an appropriate default social-media function. This is the kind of information that should reach the relevant organizational functions such as marketing, public relations, research and development and public relations.
- Responding. Although it’s valuable to learn how the medium is doing and what to improve, this kind of response can uncover sales leads and provide customer service. Responding to counter negative comments and reinforcing positive ones is of vital significance to brand management. Recently a hoax photograph claimed that McDonald’s was charging African-Americans an addition service fee. McDonald’s social-media team released a statement declaring the photograph a hoax, asking key influencers to let their “followers know.” The company even responded personally to a number of people who believed the image was authentic. Within just a few days, the firm had resolved the problem and its stock shares went back up.
- Amplifying. Amplification means designing the medium with a social motivator that encourages broader engagement and sharing. It means that the campaign provides for experiences that invite customers to broaden or extend the relationship with the brand, product or fellow users. Groupon, for example, provides consumers with credit for referrals.
- Leading. The medium can be used to lead the customer toward long-term behavioral changes by driving Web traffic to content about a firm’s other products or services. It can, for example, provide time-sensitive targeted deals. American Express created shopping promotions for the weekend following Thanksgiving.
Although the McKinsey study is oriented to organizational marketing, I’ve found by means of Analytics that the same insights are applicable to my own personal blogging. By regularly posting on four different websites with slightly varying niches, I’m able to gain very useful marketing insight. I’ve been able to identify issues, language, and approaches that, over time, clarify potential consulting and writing objectives.
Analytics and Quantcast provide me with much free insight. Although conventional knowledge, for example, says that blogs should be kept below 500 words, I’ve found that content is truly king. Three of my top five blogs, by reader stats, are more than 1,000 words in length. Surprisingly, average time spent on blogs does not necessarily correlate with the length of the blog. I take that info as a means of identifying exceptionally relevant content to my readers. Quantcast is especially useful in that it provides free information regarding income, education, age and categories of interest to my readers. Currently, my blogs reflect readership identical to my strategic objectives. As a result of the marketing information, I’ve been able to fine tune my readership and better reach both the educational and income levels on which I’m focusing. I spend a great deal of time monitoring and responding to the marketing data, blogging to achieve my desired objectives.
Fm: Divol, R., Edelman, D., and H. Sarrazin, "Demystifying Social Media." McKinsey Quarterly, April 2012.