From conversations to conversions

Prasad Sangameshwaran | Updated on April 03, 2014 Published on April 03, 2014

Marketing in social media is moving away from counting the number of likes and fans to using technology to drive commerce

It’s Heather Taylor, Social@Ogilvy's Head of Content and Strategy who deserves credit for this crisp and say-it-all title. But it’s not just Taylor. At the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit that concluded recently in Salt Lake City, Utah, it looked like almost the entire world was talking about the monetisation of social media.

At the summit, a gathering of more than 6,000 professionals from over 33 countries, nearly all conversations around digital marketing veered towards how digital media could be used for monetisation. Umang Bedi, Managing Director, South Asia, Adobe Systems, says most marketers are moving beyond making and managing content to measuring and monetising. Globally, most brands, from fashion retailer Guess to hospitality brand MGM resorts to automobile giant Audi to food retailer Dunkin Donuts and beauty retail brand Ulta are all speaking the same language. Still measuring return on investment (ROI) on social media might not get you the same answer from everyone who’s trying to do it. Even some of the measurement metrics are still too fluffy. But there’s no denying that the medium is certainly evolving.

In India too brands from the hospitality, telecom and e-tailing sectors are fine-tuning and honing their digital strategies. But it’s still early days in India, says Bedi, whose company works closely with marketers in sectors that are going digital with a vengeance.

cat.a.lyst brings you global cases from the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit 2014 of companies using social media to make critical marketing decisions.

Square Up

Social networking site Foursquare has gone way beyond the check-ins and the badges, says Dev Anand who looks after Business Development at Foursquare.

The accent, according to Anand, is on using intelligent local recommendations for local search and social discovery, and help users save money by finding great deals. Special offers makes up 25 per cent of business, he says.

Foursquare, which is in its fifth year of operations, has seen a fair bit of evolution. The first two years of Foursquare was just about broadcasting the user’s location to friends. Then the site launched its local recommendation service, thus pushing data into its users’ pockets, making them go where they have not been before.

Now the site is using check-ins (users typically disclose their current location to friends by check-ins on Foursquare) to help companies take sound business decisions. “Check-ins are taking place is a good proxy for economic activity,” says Anand whose site has seen as many as five billion check-ins from 45 million users globally in the last five years.

For instance, take how Foursquare user movements are tracked. New York is more than a city. The networking site knows where people live and work and how they move through the day and also where they go after office hours. “We know how the city changes over a period of time. We have fingers on the pulse of the city. If people go to a theatre, we can predict where are they likely to go next,” says Anand.

See how this can be an opportunity for brands. If you are say, food and beverage retailer Dunkin Donuts and the chain wants to expand into areas where coffee consumption is high, using Foursquare data it can figure out where there is an existing market for coffee consumption and set up outlets in exactly those areas. “The check-ins show where there is demand for a certain category. One can map their own check-in along with category and competitors to find out if business is saturated or unsaturated,” says Anand. He adds that the site is a hyper local marketing tool as it enables marketers get a micro view of key markets, map new store performance to the competitive set and identify growth areas in key neighbourhoods and better allocate media budgets for areas that need it.

Viva Las Vegas

MGM Resorts has 22 resorts in domestic and international locations. But 13 of them are in Las Vegas. So it decided to position itself as some sort of expert advisor about Las Vegas. Nick Mattera, social media manager, MGM Resorts points out that on social media, the company also answers queries that are not necessarily about its brands of resorts. However, he adds that these initiatives build affinity towards the MGM brand.

 Two to three years ago, the challenge for MGM Resorts was to be active on social media. But the pertinent question was related to what were the ROI, the key performance indicators and so on.

“We wanted to align it with the parameters the company has elsewhere, whether it’s investing in billboards, search marketing or traditional media. We wanted to drive profitable bookings and wanted to have a profitable social database,” says Mattera.

For its social media strategy MGM followed the approach of “right customer, right message, right timing and right medium”. “We had a 60-million e-mail database. If anyone ever came to Las Vegas, we knew what they ate, what they saw, where they stay and where they gamble.”

 For social media, MGM executed an “always-on acquisition strategy” across all social networks. Go to Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest and Tumblr and it was likely that on any mention of Las Vegas, you would spot them. The company’s marketable social database (users who could convert to customers) went up to 5.2 million in 2013, an eightfold growth since 2010.

In 2012 MGM started introducing more direct response advertising solutions such as Facebook Custom Audiences and Facebook Exchange. Total revenues derived from social media advertising grew by over three times over the last two years.

The company also engages in active social listening on social media. That helps in spotting potential customers and building loyalty. Talk about not gambling away your money through social media. 

The writer was at the Digital Marketing Summit at the invitation of Adobe.

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Published on April 03, 2014
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