What drives social media success?

In a growing age of digital innovation, no publisher can deny the importance of social media. On the contrary, no publisher can deny the difficulty and uncertainty each company is faced with when trying to develop the proper social media strategy. These were the thoughts of a panel of speakers today at FIPP’s Congress in Rome.

“Social media is quite often seen as people chatting away in a structured way… it has to be done in a more professional way. If you take it to a higher level there is much more to gain” said Michiel Buitelaar, COO of Digital Media, Sanoma, The Netherlands. “But, beware of the rear view mirror. It’s easy to see new things in terms of the old. You have to realise some things are quite different.” Buitelaar went on to explain that companies need to look at social media as streams, sharing, and devices that are used in different ways. “Social media is about making texts that people want to share,” he said.

It is also important to look to people who know how to utilise social media in a personal and commercial way. “Running social is a craft that you should have the right people for,” Buitelaar explained. His suggestion? Outsource. Turn to bloggers who have a strong following to help promote your brand or magazine. At first, advertisers were reluctant to seek help from independent bloggers, “People didn’t take it seriously… but it’s highly authentic, honest, and it appeals to people.” Bloggers tend to be focused and have a special-interest reach that creates a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the blog’s mission needs to fit with the advertiser in order to maintain the integrity of the brand.

In terms of devices, companies should use key performance indicators, or KPI. Buitelaar explained that “many people start on one device and finish on another.” This type of research can be more effective than social if paired with quantification of social media standing.

Timing is also key. Companies need to find the right method for social media marketing in relation to launching or promoting a product. Alessandro Belloni, CEO, De Agostini Publishing in Italy said everyone is “learning how to get support from digital and online marketing.” There is not a set method for every company, it is important to experiment because everyone is learning how to utilise social media together. Belloni shared his success using Facebook for a specific launch of a how-to cake decorating initiative including a digital magazine and “Rate my Cake” app. He was able to drive an impressive 30 to 40 per cent of the cake decorator’s acquired Facebook “likers” to become unique visitors to the website, which in turn resulted in a two to five per cent conversion from user to paid subscriptions.

While there isn’t a definitive answer for social media success, companies need to explore different paths for an increase in social media traffic. Bloggers and liquid movement is important for any company. Driving users from one social media platform to the next is important for any company to excel in the ever-changing world of social media.

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