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27/11/2012 by

Improve Advertising ROI With Social Media

It’s every marketers dream. You are the CMO of a brand new product and have a virtually unlimited ad launch budget; in fact your ad and media budget is close to an incredible billion dollars for a six-month launch period for just nine or ten states across the country, representing about 20% of the U.S. population.

Social Media Advertising ROI

Some customers may see hundreds of ads. You have all this money to spend and the best minds in the business to run the operation and yet your launch failed. Now you know how Team Romney feels.

The presidential election of 2012 showed more than ever the limits of advertising in selling a product and candidate; it also showed the incredible new power of social media. For the first presidential debate, there were over ten million tweets, a 2000% increase from the first presidential debate four years ago.

And the response on Facebook and Twitter in response to Romney’s “binders full of women” comment showed the spontaneous galvanizing impact social media can have in creating a sense of community and commitment among groups with common ground.

Presidential election

But what if you could use social media to make your advertising, and your campaign, more effective? The evidence suggests you can. The single key to a successful ad is relevance, an ongoing quest to make the viewer feel that an ad is speaking directly to their needs and values.

Make an ad relevant and it almost automatically and magically rises above the noise level and resonates with its intended audience; and maybe, just maybe, creates a favorable shift in attitude. Of course, the question always is, “how do we create relevant ads and messaging?” Social media may be the key. We can now identify trends and gauge the public’s sentiment in real time, which can give marketers valuable insights into their key audience.

One of the more exciting trends in advertising and media lately is the concept of dayparting; that by placing an ad at a certain time of day when the user has a heightened sense of need, the ad will be more effective. Think of a tuna fish ad just before lunch, at say 11:30am when hunger pains are beginning to set in; the increase in ROI skyrockets. Clearly, whenever you can synchronize media with arousal and heighten interest, advertising ROI mushrooms.

The presidential election serves as a powerful case study in the power of social media. During the election, voters expressed any and all thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. After each presidential debate, you could scan these social media channels to see how the public reacted and what messages resonated the best, or worst.

Social Media Power

What if instead of dayparting, you did “issue pairing,” and coupled your media schedule with the pertinent topic of the week that users were discussing on social media platforms? During the campaigns, my client, the UK social media monitoring firm SDL, published a daily social media sentiment report and weekly share of voice report for a handful of key campaign issues for the eight battleground states.

The sentiment report showed how each candidate’s sentiment score ranked in each swing state. The share of voice report ranked the most popular campaign issues in each state, including women’s rights, foreign policy, the deficit, jobs and the economy, protecting the middle class and Medicare

As you can imagine, the SDL social media monitoring report showed wide swings from week to week and state to state, as the campaign news cycle played out. Foreign policy interest spiked, especially in states with large military bases such as North Carolina and Virginia in the wake of the Benghazi attack in Libya. And women’s rights issues spiked in the wake of Romney’s “binders full of women” debate remark, particularly in states with a large percentage of college educated women like Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

While there are unpredictable “Black Swans,” most marketers can generally predict the range of issues that will affect their launch, be it political of otherwise, and can produce 3-4 ads that address these issues. These ads can still maintain the same umbrella theme and style to ensure campaign synergy (i.e. think Obama Forward!).

Perhaps the Romney campaign could have used these social media metrics to identify what worked, and what didn’t work, with constituents. For example, in the vice presidential debates, Ryan fumbled a question regarding the Republican Party’s position on abortion.

Immediately after, his social media sentiment score dropped form a +2.6 in the first hour of the debate, to a negative -15.4 in the last hour in the state of New Hampshire (SDL social media sentiment score). Romney ultimately lost this state on election night. It would appear that this plummet in Ryan’s sentiment score after discussing abortion foreshadowed the election results in New Hampshire, proving that social media can accurately represent public opinion.

Social Media Sentiment

Smart campaigns should consider using social media monitoring to guide their online and broadcast media decisions on virtually a daily basis to improve their “relevance” factor. Social media monitoring can break out any meaningful region in less than 24 hours, as to what the online consensus is, and to what degree. 

Iowans, for example, are proud of their excellent K-12 focus on education, and the SDL social media report could show how Romney’s comment on stripping funding on PBS and Big Bird resonated regionally, and guide media placement accordingly.

Imagine how this social media monitoring could improve your marketing campaign. After a product launch, you could monitor online sentiment towards your product and its messaging. In real time, you could alter your tagline or campaign strategy to better resonate with your audience.

You could track what key words are most used in relation to your product and determine which ads and videos are being shared the most. Never before have we had so much information at the tip of our fingers, in just a matter of seconds. Marketers can now use that information to better relate to key targets.

Research performed under the guidance of The American Association of Advertising Agencies shows that two different and separate media impression will, on average, generate a 33% higher return, all other things being equal than two identical impressions.

For example, instead of two identical print ads, it would be better to use one social media impression and one print ad. This is due to the synergistic benefit of the different ways we absorb information. Thus, it suggests that a TV ad that follows up on an earlier social media discussion would be more effective in reaching the target audience.

The 2012 election proved two things: that money can buy love or votes, and that social media, more than ever, plays a critical role in who will win an election.

Imagine the benefits that can accrue to the savvy CMO if you use both traditional media and social media together to create more relevant advertising and marketing synergies.

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About the author
Ralph Fascitelli is the president of Resonance PR & Communications.


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