All this is interesting and certainly is worth paying attention to as those brands with retail components look to build or refine their social strategies. But the study doesn’t look at the first part of the social retail equation: Acquisition and attraction of that audience.
It’s important to note, as this report does, how updates on social networks influence those who are following the brand. But the assumption has to be that if someone has made the decision to do so it means they already have some sort of connection to or affiliation for that retailer. They’re likely already customers.
In other words the updates are influencing an already pre-disposed audience.
That’s not a bad thing since, as the study points out, it’s still possible to get those folks to try products they may not have previously considered. It does, however, overlook the work that has to be done to get that audience in the first place.
Social programs can’t just be built around current customers. That’s a limited pool to fish from and if you are constantly using messages that are meant for those with some sort of previously signalled affiliation the growth potential is minimal since outsiders, those coming to the brand for the first time, will feel unwelcome at best and turned off at worst.
Instead it’s better to adjust your messaging to speak to different audiences in different ways. Some considerations:
- Are you seeing different audiences on different platforms? Meaning is your Facebook audience made up of more brand loyalists than Twitter, where people might be more casually interested?
- Are you seeing different levels of interaction based on time? Meaning do sale-based posts do better at X time while more general FYI updates see more interactions at another? How are you adjusting to that?
- Are you tracking different message types? Meaning are you flagging your messages as being targeted for a specific audience and then measuring the different ways they are – or aren’t – resonating with the target audience?
It’s important to measure not only how much it’s costing you to interact with the audience you have and how much revenue is being gained because of that interaction but also how much it’s costing you to grow the network – something akin to cost per acquisition – and figure out how to maximize that spend.