Ep 55: Serious Social – Proving the value of social to your boardroom
Are you getting questions from the boardroom around the impact and value of social media? Are you being challenged on your reporting? Are you being pushed whether it contributes meaningfully towards business goals? If all that sounds rather too familiar then listen to Colin Jacob’s latest Serious Social Podcast as he explores how to prove the value of social to your boardroom.
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Good morning, welcome along to “Serious Social” live. This morning, we’re talking about measurements and more importantly, the measurements and reporting that your boardrooms want to see.
My name’s CJ, @ColinJacobs. I’m actually the Managing Director at Immediate Future. One of the things my colleagues and I do brilliantly for our customers, is helping them create content. This speaks to the very topics and dialogue that boardrooms look at. Being on a board ourselves, a lot of the pain points that these operatives will be looking at from budget investments, scale, profitability, market share. We live and talk that language every single day. We also have preconceived ideas about how we spend money and what we expect to see back from it. But we also listen to advice and we listen to reason and we look at reports and data, and we learn from those stories and that insight to help us make new and better informed decisions.
One of the interesting things about social media, particularly B2B media, social media spend increasingly, is the focus that is now being placed on immediate returns. Virtually everyone is talking demand generation, lead generation or returns. “We need MQL marketing qualified leads”, or “we need sales qualified leads, SQLs”. There’s a real march to value return. And I’m not surprised by that because we’re still in a COVID scenario, but moving to a post-COVID recovery landscape.
I don’t know many businesses outside of some of the big supermarkets that have made great money in the last year to 18 months. Most organizations have had their balance sheets hit. So there is a focus now on making sure spend is being done diligently. And that brings questions with it. Questions about are we spending on the right media, are we spending on the right deployment? So a lot of the questions you are likely to be faced about proving value from your social media. This isn’t a personal attack on you in any way, shape or form. And it’s not necessarily scrutiny of social media as a discipline, although there’s an increasing degree of cynicism happening around social media right now. But the good news is, you don’t need to be worried of any of that because you can show the potency of social media and the impact that social media has and more importantly, the tangible contribution it brings to a business’s bottom line if you measure the right stuff. And that’s what we’re talking about today.
The key to successful measurement for boardroom are three D’s: data, dialogue, direction. Let’s start with the data because this takes a number of guises and this isn’t just on basic metrics natively out of the platform. The data can take the form really of three types, social listening data. So, those of you that are interested in the technology element to this debate, the MarTech. Summary, you need insight from social listening. That will show you what conversations are being spoken about. It will give you insights into the intrigue and the questions that are arising out in the marketplace. It will also, if you’re smart in looking at the data, it will show you what’s not being spoken about. It will show you where there’s opportunities to own conversations. It will show you how competitive conversations are. It will also show you how many companies are spamming really crap content to your audiences and your customers.
All of that brings opportunity to your brand. If you’re able to identify the audiences who are on social that work in your space. The need for content or solutions and then you go and create speak into that, there is an opportunity. So, social listening is one aspect of the data you’re going to need. You may want to look at some broader insights around category. So for example, we use GlobalWebIndex as a brand, and it plays a contributing factor in some of the reports that we publish that you may have seen out there.
So, for example, let’s talk technology for a second. We learned a couple of years ago, a report that is still available, a CTO report, that evidence these people are all on social media and they’re all looking at content, but they don’t necessarily engage on a one-to-one basis. We recognize that they were watchers, people that like content. So we ran some tests putting out video and lo and behold, we were getting really long video metrics as long as 16 minutes in some cases, I’ll come onto that. The point being they consume content, but you’re not likely to get a message back. But if somebody has watched a 16-minute long video of your proposition, I would suggest that’s quite a big metric of desire and intrigue. Again, we’ll come back to that point in a second.
And then the third data that you need is the native data. Now, in social, should you be using vanity metrics or should you be using sanity metrics? Well, at Immediate Future, we say you need both and here’s why. Your vanity metrics or what they should be called, your social resonance metrics. These are your impressions, the reach, engagements, video views, but, and there’s a big caveat here, some of those metrics are just the thumbs up that your content’s working. If you are basing your entire social measurement purely on likes, reach, and impression, well, expect your boardroom to start rolling their eyes because they’re not tangible or business impacting metrics, but they are signals that your content is adding value.
So if you’re not getting even basic likes like a handful of likes, I would suggest you need to go and look at your content. But very quickly, you need to get out of the vanity metrics and you need to be looking at some of the more meaningful metrics. And video views can be one of those, but not a three-second view. Come on guys, that’s a thumb scroll, right? If you’re getting minutes, several minutes of video view, that is a big signal that there is something in that content that’s spoken to your audience that has driven resonance with them. And as a form of engagement, we place a lot of credence at Immediate Future on that, but we don’t report on three-second views, we don’t report on 30-second views. We look at the meaningful views and we also look at video completions, long form video completions in social. If you’re getting thousands of technology audiences watching 10, 15, 16-minute videos, then your proposition is really lined up with them on something meaningful.
And that tells you two things. One, you should be investing more in that type of content, but two, you need to be talking about how you’re retargeting that audience with contextual storytelling because they’ve got an interest in your proposition. There’s tangible data. That then brings me on to dialogue.
Imagine you just extract those data points and you collect number of impressions, reach, number of video views. You’ve even modeled your cost per click counts of social to site and then you send a report to the boardroom. Unless there’s somebody that’s made an effort to learn about these metrics and understand what they are and what they do, pretty much everyone’s going to look at it and go, “So what? What does that mean? “I’m just seeing a load of data here, “and I’m not seeing site to site traffic.” Valid point. So in your dialogue, in your reporting, you need to bridge that. And you need to factor in, in addition with the social resonance, you need to line that up with your conversion metrics, which would be your website conversion, page views, dwell time. It’s all well and good getting 10,000 people X 10 out of Facebook clicking through your site.
But if you’ve then got a really big bounce rate and people are only staying on page, I don’t know, 10 seconds, they’re not even reading a paragraph, let alone participate in any sort of form fill, I would suggest that you’re hooking the wrong audience and that there really isn’t any resonance between what they expected to see and what they found on the landing page. That again, could give you information around your landing pages need changing. Is it a layout thing? Have you got too much of the good stuff below the fold? Not enough of the juicy stuff above the fold? Or is your target audience not lining up to really who your proposition is. Either way, you’re learning something from it. And that’s how you know, your boardroom would be interested in that insight, good, bad, or indifferent.
The dialogue needs to make sense of what the data’s telling us, good, bad or indifferent. And don’t be afraid to learn from mistakes. There is not a Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer, MD, founder, whatever they want to call themselves. There is not a senior person out there who has not learned through failure. There is not a single person who has not learned from making a mistake. And sometimes some of the mistakes that we make in our marketing, are the biggest educators for how we can make a success of things. So if things aren’t going well, do not shy away from learning from it and shaping a dialogue around the action you’re going to take. Boardrooms will welcome that. And that’s what brings me on to the direction. If you really want to get to marketing qualified leads and in turn sales qualified leads, there needs to be some direction with the board about what you’re doing, what you want to do, and how long it’s going to take.
The demand generation focus has brought an age where people think social media is an immediate returns space. It’s not. This isn’t PPC. These are not salespeople in a room with warm leads. Social media is the opportunity to create a series of people who are interested in your brand or proposition who will likely have future spend. But particularly if you’re a high value proposition, they are not there today to trade. They’re there to learn about the solutions that you can bring to them, the problems you can solve for them.
Some of the data that evidences they are hooked into your brand, are not likes, are not comments engagements, and they’re possibly not conversions to site. They could be those long video views. I go back to that point. For Fujitsu, we trialed many, many years ago whether this philosophy worked. And Fujitsu are a brilliant client for many reasons, but not least because they’re bold and they let us go and try stuff and prove things. We shot long form content, which everyone says doesn’t work in social. But we made sure that from an editorial perspective, we were looking at getting senior stakeholders, speaking to industry level problems and issues that they could solve. And we had them discussing business value that could be delivered if they looked at the right solutions. So this wasn’t about product or service or a credentials deck. This was, I thought leadership content helping fellow CEOs understand how they could unlock business value from adopting new technology. So it was a specific boardroom-level conversation. We were told, “CEOs are not on social. “They’ve not got time for social content, “long form content does not work.” Well, the first year that we created Fujitsu Forum TV, we delivered so much content that it was the equivalent of CEOs watching the entire series, the entire eight or nine series of “Game of Thrones”, back to back, 17 times over.
The direction and dialogue needs to tell a story. Boardrooms want to have insight about what we’re achieving, the successful failure, where we’re going, and what we can achieve. And there needs to be dialogue that actually helps them understand the impact of metrics, because they’re not going to know the individual data points, unless it’s somebody who’s grown up in digital that now find themselves on the board. It is unlikely, anyone is going to be able to tell you at board level, what an industry average conversion is from a click through rate, a cost per click. They’re unlikely to be able to tell you the role of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as far as surfacing customers and audiences. But they’d love outcomes. And if you have a really positive outcome, don’t just put dialogue at data level, put dialogue at a story level so they can understand what the data volume means.
The minute Fujitsu understood that there was all the CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs spending that much time looking at their content, that it was the equivalent of binge watching all the series of “Game of Thrones”, that had something tangible for them to latch onto. They invested in year two, and we had greater scale and growth. If I had said to Fujitsu, “We’ve had 35,000 minutes of content consumed by a CEO.” They’d say, “So what? That sounds a lot. “Is it a lot? “What does that mean?” Data, dialogue, direction, and tell a story, a tangible story. Don’t make one up, follow the data obviously. Don’t become a natural doll. I know I’m a big fan of roll doll, but, boardrooms want tangibles. They want insight that they can back their investments on. And that’s what marketing is. It’s an investment in the medium to long-term. Social media is not going to deliver transaction tomorrow, if you’re a tech brand with multimillion pound propositions. But social will deliver impact in the medium to long term if you create the right content and nudge and nurture your audiences to come to an understanding of your philosophies.
The final point I’m gonna make. nudge, nurture is a series of content. It’s not single ad. It’s not a buy now, a demo now, a try now. You have to give away some intellectual property to evidence the quality of the talents you employ and collectively evidence the wonderful talents the brand holds. And if you do that in a way that speaks to the very issues that boardrooms are experiencing, you are going to get social resonance data, which shows your content is delivering a thumbs up, people are consuming it, people like it, people are acting on it. They’ve given you dwell time to watch the videos. You will get data around your Click Throughs. You will then in turn, get your site side data from Google, which will show the number of people who have clicked through.
And by the way, if anyone’s expecting to see identical numbers out of Facebook and Google, you’re wrong, it’s never going to happen. Facebook don’t like Google, Google don’t like Facebook. They’ve both got different algorithms around their measurement. There will always be a discrepancy around the number of people clicking out of Facebook and arriving site side on Google. It shouldn’t be millions of different data points. There will be subtle differences. The point being you’re never going to see an identical number. That’s normal. Don’t think something’s wrong when you see that. But Google will then give you your dwell time on page. And if you’ve got people spending minutes on page, the content’s good. If it’s seconds on page, the content needs work. Again, it’s not that the content’s bad, it needs work. Is it layout? Is it insight? Are you speaking to the pain points? Have you lined up the journey?
These are all great questions to be asking yourselves. The page visits will give you a barometer of people coming through so there’s some data to play back to your customers. And of course, back to your boardroom rather. And the form fills around the report, a white paper, or signing up for a webinar, that’s really juicy stuff. Last point, drip feed the intellectual property throughout the entire journey. Don’t just give away the same insight in a social post, landing page, form fill. People have got to learn. And if you expect somebody to download a report and then join a webinar, they’ve got to feel like they’re gonna learn more information from the webinar. If you package all of that storyteller and think of your reporting like a mini business case, your boardroom will pay attention to it.
And if you want a proof point to show this works, push for a talking heads video with your CEO, interview them yourself, asking them a series of provocative questions about proposition or service. Get them speaking from the heart about the very solutions that you deliver for customers and the value that you unlock. If you do that, they’ll be invested in the video at an emotional level because they’re in it. They will pay attention to the metrics about how far it’s traveled. And when they see that it really does deliver intrigue and dwell time, they will give you not only more time, but more budget to scale this. And then you can start looking at the more funkier aspects of your delivery and your ad sets. Data, dialogue, direction, have a story, and think of your report like a mini business case. If you do that, your boardrooms will pay attention. 18 and a half minutes the clock says, I’m supposed to be on air for 10 minutes.
I’ve clearly talked way too long. But as you can see, I’m passionate about this topic because there’s a lot of big boardrooms out there that think social is bad. I spend most of my time working with senior leadership, helping convince them otherwise. And it’s one of the reasons why we’ve worked with Fujitsu sort of six to seven years. We live this day in, day out. You can too, if you follow those advice. Clearly you’ve probably got questions about this because it’s quite a key topic.
If you want to pick those up offline, drop me a note CJ at immediatefuture.co.uk, or you find me on Twitter @ColinJacobs, pretty simple. Drop me a line, I’ll gladly pick those up. Next week, 10:30, we’ll be back with another “Serious Social” live. We’ll be looking at the very topics that help you evolve as a marketer. Until then, have a good weekend. Thanks for joining, bye-bye.