Room 214—a social and digital agency based in Boulder, Colorado—helps major brands navigate the intricacies of both established and emerging channels to drive awareness, advocacy and sales. They count a number of heavy-hitting brands among their clients, such as Adobe and Verizon, that look to the agency for multi-channel insights, smart business analytics, and ongoing growth.

On a recent call with Maya Shaff, Account Director at Room 214, we found ourselves talking about the many challenges that plague digital marketers at leading brands, from balancing small teams and budgets to staying ahead of trends. In the following article, Maya addresses four questions her team frequently hears – and provides detailed answers to each of them.

digital marketing questions

You have questions. She has answers.

maya shaff room 214

  1. How can I measure my social and digital strategy in dollars, proving value and demonstrating ROI?
  2. How can I design an integrated social/digital strategy and ensure every touchpoint plays into my brand’s larger story?
  3. How can I quantify the long-term value of a fan on emerging platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and/or Tumblr?
  4. Is there an ideal mix of organic and promotional content? How do I know when to utilize one or the other?

1. How can I measure my social/digital strategy in dollars, proving value and demonstrating ROI?

social ROI

A huge benefit of working in digital mediums is the ability to set up robust tracking, which helps marketers identify and analyze traffic, conversions and desired user actions as a result of digital marketing efforts. The first step to measuring ROI is great tracking. Is your organization set up on Google Analytics, Omniture or another web analytics application? Even if you’re not an ecommerce brand, there are straightforward ways to identify a “sale” online; setting goals and utilizing link tracking ensures that any brand can measure success.

At Room 214, we recommend tracking both assisted and last click conversions when measuring social ROI. While some channels, like search or display, have more straightforward click throughs to your website or landing page, social has a tendency to influence purchases at many steps along the consumer’s path to purchase. Assisted conversions can identify where in the sales funnel a consumer interacted with social, and gives a more comprehensive view of dollars attributed to social campaigns or initiatives. The addition of goals and link tracking in the platform can help marketers see how specific social content and interactions led consumers to make a purchase or attain a brand goal. These insights help inform an ongoing optimization strategy for social content.

2. How can I design an integrated social/digital strategy and ensure every touchpoint plays into my brand’s larger story?

desining an integrated social strategy

Storytelling is huge in the digital world. Creating a meaningful connection with consumers can create a longer-term relationship with brands, increasing consumer life cycles, loyalty and satisfaction on a large scale. A great strategy built on storytelling takes time, so it’s not something we’d recommend jumping into at your next brainstorm, but would be better served as a part of a long-term brand initiative or campaign.

There are a ton of resources around how marketers can use storytelling. Some of our favorites at Room 214 include Winning The Story Wars, by Jonah Sachs and Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. Ultimately, finding a way for your brand to integrate into the narrative that consumers already believe in or tell themselves is where your storytelling should start. It’s helpful to fully understand what your fans talk about outside of your industry or topic, and the consumer landscape, before crafting the brand’s overarching story.

3. How can I quantify the long-term value of a fan on emerging platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and/or Tumblr?

long term value of a social fan

Tools like Curalate are instrumental in identifying the value of fans on Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. If your budget doesn’t allow for a robust analytics tool, manual analysis is your best bet at understanding how fans interact on these three platforms, and what it means for your brand in the short and long terms. Analyzing web traffic is also very helpful when analyzing the success of networks like Pinterest and Tumblr.

We tend to see extremely high engagement and referrals from Pinterest for almost all of our ecommerce brands, and Tumblr is an ideal network for brands targeting the millennial audience. Instagram is sort of its own beast, since they have historically not allowed links off of the platform (although this is changing with some paid options). Curalate’s Like2Buy platform has helped us better monetize ecommerce brands’ Instagram profiles, and as Like2Buy and similar platforms become more popular, we will see user adoption soar – and therefore continue to see an increase in last click conversions through Instagram.

Of course, on all three networks (Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr), great content is key. While it’s easy to find best practices online, high-quality content that tells a story is instrumental in the success of emerging platforms that often target a younger, savvy and media-bombarded audience.

4. Is there an ideal mix of organic and promotional content? How do I know when to utilize one or the other?

organic vs branded content

Of course, every brand is going to have a different mix of promotional and organic or UGC content. However, tying back to the importance of powerful storytelling for brands, we see organic, emotional content performing well on social channels overall. This is with one caveat: High-quality images and video assets are a must when developing an organic content strategy.

Almost every brand struggles to create enough content for their social presence, but there are a few relatively easy fixes we’ve helped our clients find. Hire a professional lifestyle photographer (your agency may have someone in-house, like Room 214 does, or have a contact you can use) for a relatively inexpensive shoot. Find on-brand quotes or sayings (always attribute any content you find online to the owner/creator, including quotes), and produce basic design assets to help define the story behind your brand.

Finally, engage with your consumers where they are most, in an authentic and human way. You don’t always need to reach out to fans because you’re asking for permission to post their content. You can reach out just to say hello, show support or offer encouragement. Mixing this type of emotional content in with the necessary brand content all marketers need to support online can be tricky. A good rule of thumb is 1:3 branding to organic/storytelling messages. However, depending on asset availability and buy-in from your brand, target a goal ratio to attain. Can you get your brand to 1:5 branded to organic content? If so, you’re on your way to a successful, engaging online presence.