5Qs: Hachette Filipacchi’s Steve Goldner on Social ROI as KPI

Hachette Filipacchi Media is one of the world’s largest magazine publishers, operating in 40 countries and boasting a database of nearly 20 million uniques. Steve Goldner, director of social media for Hachette Filipacchi US, spoke with DIGIDAY about the challenges of measuring and growing social media marketing ROI.

How are multiple devices altering the parameters of consumer engagement via social media advertising?
There are really two issues here. As a brand, you need to realize that your audience is going to consume your content from various platforms they (the consumer) deem compelling. In fact, the consumers’ selection of device and platform may decide whether they get your content or not. A good social media strategy, plan, and execution integrates and stitches together the various devices and platforms. There needs to be brand references and cross connections between multiple devices. Second, from an advertising perspective, you need to think beyond banners, CPM, PPC and similar models. You need to incorporate sponsorship in a contextually relevant way. We will see more and more of this approach and measured results proving success moving forward.
How do we truly measure social media ROI?
I do not think it is appropriate to look at social media ROI, but rather look at social media KPIs. Social media is about building relationships. There are different stages to relationships.  From a brand perspective, I see five stages that I term the A-Path; attention, attraction, affinity, audience, advocates. These stages are sequential and thus measurement should be made at each stage. What you measure is different at each stage. Measurement of each of these stages are the KPIs. You perform different social activities for each stage, and thus you should measure the success, or lack of success, of each. Each successful stage contributes to potential sale, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to categorically attribute to a specific sale. By definition, ROI  equals sales minus investment.  Social media is not good at selling, it is good at building relationships. I don’t say, “Hi, I am Steve Goldner and I want to buy X; rather, I build a relationship and when contextually relevant, make an offer. Social media is a longer-term pipeline builder. Now I am not saying just do it and expect results to come later. What I am saying is set a strategy and plan, then execute and measure. Measure the KPIs for the various stages of the relationship. And how can you tell that revenue will increase?  Two proven reasons: people like to buy from people they feel comfortable with, and having consumer advocates is far more powerful than any marketing effort the company can do themselves.
Hachette Filipacchi has millions of subscribers. How does a CMO create an effective data-driven marketing campaign when dealing with numbers as large as those? What are some crucial elements in defining and articulating that strategy?
We look at our user base in segments. First segmented by our brands.  While there may be some crossover, the HFM US brands Elle, Elle Decor, Ellegirl, Woman’s Day, Car and Driver, Road & Track, and Cycle World have very distinct audiences. Audiences with different interests, behaviors and motivations. Every CMO needs to start by understanding their audience and the audiences differ across HFM US brands. As with all digital strategies, you have to start with a position that defines what you offer, to whom, what benefits you deliver and your point of differentiation.Your strategy and plan should look to constantly reinforce this position and ultimately deliver customer value. You need to set objectives and measure against them. There needs to be a constant feedback loop, looking at measured objectives and refining and tweaking the plan and execution based upon empirical results. The digital world is evolving and there are new technologies and user behaviors changing at a rapid rate. The new technologies, new digital platforms are not important, but how people use them are important. Understanding user behaviors and patterns is what matters. This is the basis of a sound strategy.
Hachette Filipacchi is one of the world’s largest magazine publishers. How can publishers innovate via social media to connect with audiences without falling into advertising fads or gimmicks that are cool, but don’t lead to more clicks?
Publishers can innovate by engaging with their audience. Listening to them and moving publishing to more of a two-way conversation as opposed simply producing content. Our audience will tell us how they want to engage, and this will lead to innovation that is meaningful and successful. Understanding what our objectives are and measuring against those objectives will keep us form falling prey to advertising fads or gimmicks. Again, cool technology is not important. How people use cool technology is.
How should we begin to think about truly effective social media marketing beyond racking up likes on Facebook?
It is important to understand what social media objectives should be: engagement and relationships. I see social media more about the stages of the A-Path and not sales specifically. But all of these relationship stages build a greater likelihood to accomplishing sales increase. As a marketing executive for a number of years, I view this as lead generation. I see much room for social media marketing maturity. Basically, most have taken existing marketing and advertisement models to social and mobile platforms. These older marketing and advertisement “packages” are not appropriate for the new communication lines between consumer and brand, thanks in part to social and mobile advancements. It has never been possible to connect with your target market as powerfully relative to the past due to the rapid-growth social and mobile platforms. We need to tweak our marketing efforts for these new plays. We also need to integrate social into the full marketing, customer service, and overall customer experience mix and not look at it as this separate thing. I see integration as the most important next step.

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