In writing about whether P&G’s social media campaign for Old Spice was a success or failure, I realized it was worth outlining how social media actually impacts the bottom line for a business.
As with P&G’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, it can be part of an awareness strategy. The goal is to create that recognition and implicit emotional association that creates converts to your product – and therefore impacts your bottom line – over an extended period of time (years).
A different way to approach social media is as part of a direct response strategy. With direct response, the goal is to maximize specific and quantifiable responses to a campaign. One execution of direct response is to incentivize pass alongs with coupons or sweepstakes (e.g. using Wildfire). This has an impact on the bottom line in an immediate way.
When you hear people say things like “join the conversation,” they’re talking about an engagement strategy. Engagement is about deepening the connection with the customer through meaningful interactions. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” moved from awareness to engagement by responding to their fans via personalized videos.
An engagement strategy – in all honesty – doesn’t differ all that much from an awareness strategy in terms of how you see a return on investment. I know I’m offending droves of my fellow digital strategists who are suddenly bristling at my implication that they might be just making ads (gasp), but the reality is that this kind of engagement still rests on a hope that messages + trust = sales.
You can monitor conversations and measure sentiment – digital does engagement better than traditional media channels – but in most cases this is still a part of the thinking that digital is just a channel (albeit a two-way channel).
I think things get really interesting when you consider the radical notion of going beyond messaging. Maybe I’m leaving my clearly delineated box labeled “Marketing Department”, but invest in a way to make customer interactions the product itself, and it’s not so hard to see where the impact on your bottom line happens.
More on that subject soon.