Equating social network marketing results in terms of friends, likes and shares is like evaluating direct-response advertising in terms of exposures instead of responses. But in news with man-bites-dog uniqueness, one national advertiser is actually measuring its social networking for sales results.
In an October 8 interview, A-B InBev VP for North American digital marketing Lucas Herscovici told Advertising Age that Bud Light did something most social network advertisers can't or won't do – measure actual ROI on a Bud Light Facebook campaign.
Beyond Facebook data
But they had to go way beyond Facebook analytics to do it.
Specifically, they combined Facebook data with measurements from consumer information firm Datalogix. Facebook supplied consumer identifications, while Datalogix anonymously linked those IDs with consumers' supermarket loyalty cards. That way, they could see whether consumers who'd seen their Facebook content were buying more Bud Light than before.
Apparently, they were.
"[T]he brewer was able to net an investment return of six times its ad spend for a recent campaign on the social network," Ad Age noted.
Beyond Facebook exposures
Bud Light also went beyond relying on Facebook as its campaign's only advertising medium.
"In today's world with Facebook you need [paid] media in order to reach consumers at scale," Herscovici said.
We have 17 million fans across our brands, but we know when we post something in our pages we are not reaching all of our fans, we are only reaching a certain percentage of our fans because Facebook has algorithms that control that. So if you really want to reach a bigger audience, you need to put money behind it.
You get what you pay for
Social network marketing's main appeal to advertisers is that media costs are dirt cheap, often nonexistent. Too many brands confuse "cheap" or "free" with "effective," measure results in social media terms rather than real-world terms, and end up with big flops in the marketplace.
So if you want your social marketing to have a respectable return on investment, you've got to make an investment, as Bud Light did. You need to invest in analytics that link up with consumer behavior when they're buying instead of just browsing. And you need to invest in paid media, to capture attention to your message that free social media just don't generate.
Otherwise, your free social networking marketing campaign will likely end up being worth exactly what you paid for it.