Sunday, October 18, 2009

Social Media Drives Searcher Intent. Now What?

Last week, Comscore and GroupM tried to steal my search ranking ;) when they released a study that shows the impact that social media has on search behavior, specifically brand term search volume and paid search click through rates.

It's a valuable study that will surely help drive brand investments within the social media space, and you can find it, along with additional analysis here.

Overall, the study confirms much of what we mostly already knew (or in many cases, took for granted): social media influences consumer intent and search behavior. Of course, most types of media influence consumer intent and search behavior.

The study provides some interesting data points:
- Consumers exposed to a brand’s influenced social media and paid search are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand’s products

- There was a 50% CTR increase in paid search when consumers were exposed to both influenced social media and paid search

- In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed
to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 2.4 times more likely to click on organic links leading to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone

These data points beg further analysis to understand the implications on how we think about the financial impact of social media on paid search campaign performance (e.g. if social media drives more searches on brand terms, what is the impact on a brand's overall paid search campaign cost per click? Since brand terms tend to be very inexpensive, analysis could show that social media reduces paid search costs, improving ROI, but that's another post).

At this point however, it's clear that the study will likely be widely used by both in-house and agency social media strategists to help attract organizational resources and financial support for their efforts.

Building a coalition of support can take some time, but based on the synergies the ComScore/GroupM study indicate, social media strategists would be wise to connect their ROI models with those of paid search campaigns (leveraging both the ComScore/GroupM study as well as brand-specific media analytics), so that ecommerce directors and brand managers can see the holistic impact of their social media investments.

But the study does not provide much in the way of clues on how to proceed from there. When many brands are still trying to figure out social media, still trying to figure out where to invest while minimizing risk, how can brands show quick wins and then build momentum?

In addition to starting a formal listening campaign to generate insights and learnings, I believe the answer is in finding ways to begin demonstrating clear ROI. This can be especially important for those social media groups that are currently a group of one, and looking to grow.

So my question for you is: where can social media strategists most quickly show direct ROI impact with minimal effort?

Please post your thoughts in the comment section below. Or if you have the Google Toolbar with Sidewiki, feel free to leave your comments on this page's Sidewiki panel.

And you can find me on Twitter @iano1000
Ian Orekondy


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