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How APAC organizations are unlocking social media ROI

LOVE it or hate it, social media has revolutionized the way in which businesses work and is comparable only to the widespread influence of the Internet itself.

For any business, social media can be a powerful tool to drive brand awareness, build relationships with consumers and improve the overall customer experience.

But there remains an uncertainty around how social value can be measured across all stages of the customer journey and across the enterprise. Because of this, many businesses do not have an accurate understanding of their ‘social investment’, which impacts things such as budgets and setting priorities.

To make the most of social media, understanding how to interpret social data (information derived from social platforms) is key. Such information can help a business gain valuable customer insights, increase sales and boost innovation, so it is important for organizations to rethink how and what they are measuring and correlate it back to their business objectives.

“ROI is one of those terms that risks losing its meaning through misuse. ROI should always measure the specific contribution that your activities make to your organization’s overall success – and to your brand’s bottom-line value,” says marketing consultancy firm Kepios founder and CEO Simon Kemp.

“In order for social media activities to add that value, you need to craft content and manage conversations in ways that actively address your organization’s specific needs,” he adds.

Social media management platform Hootsuite released a report this week outlining how organizations across Asia Pacific are measuring their social media efforts and tying them to the bottom line. As well as this, they identified necessary organizational shifts and best practices to begin measuring and proving the value of your social media investments.

The state of social ROI

Consumers in Asia Pacific (APAC) are prolific users of social media, more so than anywhere else in the world with a consumption of 4.12 billion gigabytes of mobile data each month.

Despite this, the Hootsuite said in regards to the way in which companies are tracking and measuring social media efforts, businesses in the region are trailing their US and UK counterparts.

For instance, despite brand reputation being a top priority for businesses in Singapore and Australia, only 29 percent and 38 percent of companies have established KPIs to measure it. In the UK, this figure is 58 percent, and in the US, 53 percent.

APAC respondents said the challenge lies within organizational barriers such as a lack of technology tools, resources, and a clear understanding of the impact of social beyond marketing.

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Despite some confusion around measuring it, many APAC organizations are utilizing the full power of social throughout the customer journey, and more importantly, they are seeing the impact on their bottom lines.

Enterprises that have made the necessary organizational shifts – including increasing visibility of social data across all departments – are already seeing the benefits of social data beyond marketing.

“With the penetration and consumption of social media in Asia Pacific, the adoption of a social media strategy is no longer a luxury – it must be a core part of any business strategy. Business leaders and marketers are just starting to understand the impact that social can have beyond marketing,” says Roger Graham, Hootsuite’s senior director for growth and marketing in APAC.

According to the study, through social media,

  • 56 percent of businesses gained insights into their customers
  • 55 percent experienced faster decision-making
  • 42 percent identified new market opportunities
  • 40 percent discovered unexpected risks

An example of a brand that has reaped success from utilizing social data is clothing retailer H&M.

In a bid to reverse declining e-commerce revenue in China, the brand developed a personal stylist on the WeChat app who spoke to consumers, delivered content, and offered products.

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The power of social is that as well as delivering content to consumers, it can also be used to listen to the needs of your customers, also known as “social listening”.

Through the use of WeChat, H&M was able to gather valuable insights into its users and use this to personalize content and promotions. This led to great success for the company, with the campaign delivering a 300 percent increase in traffic to, ultimately resulting in increased sales.

So what’s the key to getting the most value out of social? Hootsuite outlined the following five best practices for unlocking the ROI of social media:

Understand your organization’s key objectives

It is important to start by identifying and understanding what is most important to your organization, and from this, linking your social media efforts to specific business outcomes.

Examples of typical business objectives may include increasing sales and revenue, increasing business conversions, improving customer experience, and mitigating risk.

Improving customer experience is just one example of a typical business objective.                                                    Source: Shutterstock

Choose metrics that measure business value

Once you understand what goals social media will help your business conquer, your next step is deciding how to achieve them.

It is important that your business uses metrics that align with your objectives, will provide valuable data to help guide your decisions, as well as have the right tools, platform and skills to measure.

Examples of good metrics to measure business conversions include email registrations, content downloads, and mobile app downloads.

Conduct a low-risk pilot program

An effective way to test how well social can help you achieve a particular business objective is by first conducting a pilot program.

A low-risk program will allow you to experiment with social and see how well a campaign performs.

By carrying out a pilot beforehand, you can discover which initiatives are worth investing further in or which areas of social you need to improve in.

Don’t do everything

While social data can provide invaluable business insights, it is important to remember it can’t do everything. Be clear in your understanding of what you can and cannot do in regards to measuring the ROI of social.

Track and analyze for future strategies

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It is important to understand how your social media efforts are impacting your business objectives.

But what is more effective and useful is tracking your past performance and using the findings to improve future campaigns. You can start by tracking trends that you may have noticed such as video content leading to more conversions.