Social ROI part 3: Keeping your audience engaged

So now that you know how to define ROI in social media and how to grow your audience, this month Mark Cameron looks at how to engage an audience on the various social platforms and the trick to extracting valuable information from users. And in case you missed them, you can still catch up on Parts One and Two.

In the first article in this social media ROI series we outlined how to define the return on investment through social media, while in the second article we discussed growing an audience using a variety of strategies and tactics and how to define a digital value proposition. In this article, we will examine what is involved in engaging an audience, how to use this engagement to obtain data, and what you can do with that data once you have it.

The earlier articles have primarily focused on Facebook, but it’s worth knowing how to plan for each of the platforms available. They all have strengths and weaknesses. Here is a quick rundown:

Facebook: over 55% of the Australian population is now on Facebook, and they view it as personal. For communication to work, it needs to talk to the audience at a personal level. Find ways of expressing the area of overlap between your brand and the lives of the audience members. Graphics and photographs tend to work well and using the segmentation tools that the platform provides is highly recommended.

Twitter is great for customer engagement, but you’ll waste time and money if you just post links to your web-site or to items for sale. Twitter is about providing value, and building trust in the process. Engage in conversations, post links that are truly valuable and you can build a community. Spam and you will build nothing.

Google Plus has had a technical, male-oriented slant for some time, but that is beginning to change. It is growing quickly. Take advantage of this to build your reputation and position your brand as a thought leader by utilising Hangouts.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, after Google. Some brands have managed to launch well-crafted videos that taking a very short time to reach millions. But ‘going viral’ is not easy. Plan to use YouTube videos in targeted ways to engage your audience. It is very effective, but don’t expect miracles.

Pinterest, the ‘breakout’ social platform of 2012, is essentially an image scrapbook online. Like other platforms, it can be effective as long as you think through how it will be used. If you are selling something that lends itself to imagery, then it is really worth considering.

Of all the platforms, Facebook has the most long-term strategic potential if used properly. That’s because you can obtain user data, called Facebook Permissions. The type of data that can be collected ranges from basic demographic information to information that can make up more of a psychographic profile (e.g. the groups a user belongs to, or their interests). These data points can generate deep insights.

All of this data can help you create segments and be used for direct marketing efforts such as email marketing. The most common way to obtain Facebook Permissions data is through a customised Facebook app. To be successful, you really have to think carefully about what you are asking for and what you are offering in return.

Rather than using ‘cookie-cutter’ Facebook apps, like competitions, a far better approach is to devise a strategic approach that looks at where the user’s life intersects with your brand, and develop an interesting way of expressing that through software. This type of project requires a larger investment, but it will have longevity and, if thought through correctly, will demonstrate value that will induce your audience to engage. Remember that your audience doesn’t like to give away personal information, so make the offer compelling!

Getting the art of data collection and utilisation right can be extremely beneficial for your brand. But even though your audience members have provided you with their data, it does not mean they have given you permission to spam their email inboxes. You need to keep up the process of demonstrating value and use creatively the data you generate.

That means designing a conversion strategy. And this is what we will look at in the next part in the series.


In case you missed them, you can still catch up with Parts One and Two, before going on with Part Four


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Mark Cameron
BY Mark Cameron ON 21 February 2013
Mark Cameron is CEO of customer experience innovation agency Working Three and a world renowned digital strategy commentator with well over 400 published articles.

Specialties: Digital innovation, Digital customer experience strategy, Social media strategy, Digital strategy, Online Marketing strategy.
He blogs at and tweets from @MarkRCameron.