Mission Impossible: Measuring Social Media Return on Investment
(10 pages of text)
In August 2011, the digital strategist at Online Advertisers, a small digital media company (web development, affiliate marketing, and social media management), was faced with finalizing a value proposition for a new social media marketing division, Online Advertisers Social. Online Advertisers was a creativity-driven company. Data and analytic capabilities were generally not the reason why clients worked with Online Advertisers. Online Advertisers attracted clients by being young, in touch with trends, energetic, and creative. However, clients (especially larger clients) wanted analytics — metrics that could be used to objectively quantify returns on social media investment. The digital strategist saw an opportunity to position Online Advertisers Social as a social media company that offered smaller businesses insights into their target markets that they would not otherwise have access to due to budget constraints.
The digital strategist needed to create a value proposition that balanced an analytics focus with Online Advertisers’ creative marketing and design. The company was too small to offer a large-scale competitive analytical package, and had relied too heavily on intuition in the past to create a competitive data-based social media package. The digital strategist went through the nuances of social media management, including campaign management and community management, and the issue of offering services related to the measurement of social media ROI in a rapidly growing and maturing industry.
This case is appropriate for undergraduate or MBA courses in intro marketing, consumer insights, marketing management, and e-commerce. It exposes students to the strategic complexities underlying social media management (from business to business and business to consumer) and the challenges in defining a value proposition for a new social media marketing division. Students will consider the alignment of core competencies when determining a value proposition in an industry where clients’ wants and needs are evolving in response to a new and complex engagement platform with consumers. Does one follow the emerging trends in the industry, or instead leverage existing competencies to carve out a niche strategy in the social media marketing space? How can the company compete in an industry with so many competitors? Students will consider what it is like to be a small entrepreneurial company with fewer resources than major competitors, and how this may constrain value proposition development. The major learning objectives are as follows:
- To enable students to appreciate the complexity of social media management and measurement, as well as the necessity for measurement.
- To expose students to the power of different components involved in social media marketing (e.g. community building and campaign management).
- To provide students with the opportunity to determine a value proposition for a company with human capital and resource constraints, competing against larger and seemingly more sophisticated competitors.
Canada, Small, 2011
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