Beyond the Numbers: Interview with MRM//McCann’s Randi Rosenfeld

Randi RosenfeldFor the first installment of the month, we asked MRM//McCann’s Randi Rosenfeld to weigh in on how she uses campaign data, which social platform is the next big thing, and the rise of mobile marketing. Randi is the Social Media Director at MRM//McCann, where she leads a team of Community Managers and ensures MRM//McCann is leveraging emerging tools, technologies, and platforms. You can connect with Randi on LinkedIn here.

Next week, we’ll travel to Greece to chat with Stavros Kontaktsis, Partner and Strategy Director at Avakon+.

You can find the complete interview archive here.

How would you define social media marketing, and how does it fit into the larger digital marketing picture?

Social media is larger than a marketing channel. It’s a consumer behavior and the means by which people connect and share experiences. A comprehensive social media strategy serves to inform and enhance each stage of the consumer’s experience with a brand. By leveraging both established and emerging platforms to develop contextually-relevant experiences, brands can foster meaningful interactions that drive advocacy and loyalty.

Strategic social marketing framework for clients is based on their specific goals and target audiences, customizing social experiences across specific points in a consumer’s journey with the brand. This could manifest as an inspirational connection as a user is considering a brand, or a real-time conversation while a loyal customer experiences the brand. A good social strategy is deeply integrated across all digital touch points and affects the entire creative process.

How does social media impact business?

Clients have been positively impacted by the launch and growth of their social media properties. The scale of today’s social platforms means that most online conversions are in some way attributed to social marketing, however the biggest benefit is the increase in top-of-the-funnel awareness. Years ago, brands craved the stories of happy customers walking out of a retail store and sharing that experience with friends. In today’s digital landscape, a retweet or shared post can carry just as much word-of-mouth weight. Consumer-to-consumer marketing will never cease to be crucial to future success; social media simply allows us an alternative—and increasingly critical—medium to generate this on a global scale.

When is social media data most critical: During the planning process; while you’re executing a campaign, so you can change course or allocate more resources; or afterwards, to measure your success?

Data is imperative during every stage of campaign development, and social data in particular has implications broader than the scope of a single social media campaign. We don’t simply optimize social campaigns; we leverage social data to optimize customer experiences across channels at each stage of the journey.

During campaign planning, competitive insights and social monitoring are critical to define a target and develop content. Social listening and general monitoring of the buzz around relevant topics can inform the larger media strategy by identifying targets and understanding them. Furthermore, access to social metrics allows brands to leverage the real-time nature of social platforms and alter course or react to an audience mid-campaign if necessary. Sentiment analysis plays a critical role here as well, and can help inform larger strategy changes that could benefit other aspects of the campaign. This real-time feedback from social (and the ability to enter into a two-way dialogue) can enable faster edits to creative, strategy or even product development.

Finally, campaign overviews that incorporate comprehensive analysis and leverage other channel measurements help holistically measure the impact social had on the greater digital ecosystem. If we were only able to look at data during one of these periods, a brand must start with it. Rooting a campaign in data pre-launch identifies the specific niche audience to target, helps hone the voice and messaging base on how the audience is already speaking, and determines the overall approach to cadence and content. It is a critical juncture that sets the course for the entire campaign.

What’s more valuable, competitive intelligence on brands within your industry, or being able to look at the efforts from brands in other verticals?

Paying attention to the competition presents an opportunity to see where you stand, and to potentially identify whitespace. But, let’s face it: most competitors are facing same challenges in the space. We aim higher by looking for best in class outside of the category. Is Starbucks driving shares by giving away free coffee vouchers? The keyword is not “free coffee”, but “driving shares.” Consumer expectations live outside of the boundaries of a category. In order to meet (and exceed) their expectations, we should learn from best-in-class of the task at hand. It’s about taking these out-of-the-box ideas from leaders in the space, and applying the filter of your particular brand’s objectives to determine meaningful application and spur innovation.

Social media channels are increasingly moving to where paid content is promoted more than organic content. How do you feel about this, and how does it affect your social strategy?

Brands can no longer deny the importance of paid social campaigns – we’ve been lucky to receive what we have for “free” for this long. On mainstream platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the competitive edge now, is around outmaneuvering the competition by leveraging platform tools (ie, Facebook’s advanced audience tool). Increasingly, this pay-to-reach mentality will be adopted across all mainstream social channels, but is still coupled with the need to create and distribute truly valuable content. Brands that haven’t yet set themselves up to be able to generate meaningful content that enhances their branded presence will need to invest even more into advertising to sustain reach and remain successful in the long term.

A real “free” opportunity still remains on emerging social platforms, where hyper-relevant conversations are enabling organic content to break through. Snapchat, for example, does not offer the mainstream reach that an established social platform affords a brand. However, we see users consistently sharing direct 1-to-1 brand engagements with their social networks across other platforms. That content reaffirms the need for brands to connect in new and different ways across smaller high-growth platforms.

What do you see as the single most disruptive force coming to the world of social media marketing?

The decline of static social marketing. Audiences are tired of passive content that features catchy lists, simple questions, and brands who ride the trending #hashtag train. To continue seeing fans and followers engage, brands will need to make their content more engaging – not in the traditional sense of garnering “likes” but with the mindset of driving true interactions. Short videos, infographics, quality imagery and direct engagement with key influencers are all ways to engage deeper—and innovative brands are taking this to the next level by incorporating interactive social experiences directly into their brand websites.

Additionally, I’d be remiss not to mention the critical need to focus on mobile-optimized experiences. Brands who have not yet realized the need for a mobile-first mentality are going to be in trouble over the next few years.

What are the social media metrics you don’t have access to today but would like to be able to leverage in the future?

Being able to consistently measure similar metrics across platforms would be a nice-to-have, as the landscape today requires a bit of heavy interpretation to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons. Also a standard approach to measuring intent would be a big win for social marketers, as we can all relate to the need to tie back to ROI or impact on sales for clients. We make assumptions based on observations and conversation volume, but a true industry-standard KPI that allows us to benchmark future change would be ideal.