Veteran CPA firm marketer Katie Tolin had posted an article on the need for a social marketing audit in a LinkedIn group I manage a while back and I just spotted it (yeah, I know, my bad).
I commented there with some specific recommendations and thought I'd share them here with you, too. Here's what I wrote, slightly modified for this blog...
I think it's important for the marketing departmant to have their arms around who in the organization is doing what online (only relevant to the org, of course) and to help those individuals learn the best, most effective ways to interact on the Interwebs.
Knowing where people "are" is a good start, but we (as their marketing educators and supporters) want to help them focus their efforts and be aware of signs of true success so they become increasingly encouraged when they occur.
The signs can be quite subtle and might go unnoticed!
In Chapter 6 of my book, as part of planning social-media use in the first place, I recommend taking baseline measurements as early in the (any) marketing process as possible, and then identifying very specific objectives as part of an individual's role in increasing his or her—and ultimately the firm's—visibility.
Side note: For the individual versus company promotion trade-off, you might like to see my blog post "Why Social Media Rock Stars Are Good For Your Firm." (Sometimes CPA- or law-firm partners get frustrated about the attention an individual "supposedly representing the firm" starts getting when their online visibility increases. This article helps explain to those partners why they should encourage the individual "fame" and not squelch it.)
As the marketing audit article says, the audit isn't just about assessing where we stand at the moment, but this is an important part of ascertaining success when you're using multiple channels to market.
You can rarely truly know exactly where a lead is generated anymore (unless it's from a specific campaign) and that's OK. We are looking for overall growth. This is all the ROI that you'll need.
To accurately assess growth later, I recommend taking these broad baseline measurements now:
- number of current clients
- revenue (average and standard deviation)
- revenue change % year over year
- client longevity (length of stay with the firm)
- frequency of client interactions
- frequency of transactions (purchases)
- number of clients lost per month, quarter, or year
- number of new clients per month, quarter, or year
PLANNING AND GOALS
Then it's wise to plan for the right types of outcomes from online interaction. Some very specific sample objectives (besides the obvious $ in the door) might be:
- Increase retweets and mentions (by anyone) related to [practice topic] from [baseline #] to [goal #] by [date]
- Obtain [#] retweets and mentions by target personas including peers and thought leaders in the specialty (i.e., Get on their radar. Knowing exactly who they are in advance is best.) by [date]
- Receive at least [#] unsolicited invitations from trade organizations to speak or write by [date]
- Earn [#] appearances as media “expert” in [publication or station] by [date]
- Receive [#] questions or requests for advice from [define personas] every [frequency]
- Build up to [#] of [define persona] Twitter (or blog) followers (or subscribers) by [date]
- Move [# define persona, or specific names] from digital to personal conversations by [date]
These are very attainable goals with social marketing. Having goals like this (rather than just "tweet often") might help reshape how you or your colleagues are using social-media tools.
TRACKING WORTHWHILE THINGS
I also think it's important to track the right things. Just # of followers or visits or likes or RTs is pretty useless. I like the marketing department (or individual) to keep track of mentions:
- Where did it appear?
- Who said it?
- Was it positive? Y/N
- What was said? Categorize the nature of the comment and keep a clip file.
- Was the mention about a particular practice, department, or person?
- Did the mention include reference to your content or website? If so, to what specific content or page?
- Who responded and how fast? You may want to keep the response in a clip file, too.
Ultimately, we're looking for an increase in mentions that are positive and made by increasingly influential people in the right spaces.
Sound like a lot of work? Maybe. No one ever said marketing was easy! Also, what do you want from a basically free marketing channel?
You don't have to do any of these things to be successful...you might luck out.
But if you're not having success, or if you really want to ensure it, you've got to be able to recognize it when it happens. Like I said, social marketing success can be very subtle, but never confuse that subtlety with lack of importance to you and your organization. It's similar to—and deeply tied to—the level of subtlety and importance as your brand. And it merits the same level of forethought and attention.
These days, our brands are often defined by our most recent interactions.