As rightly written by Heidi Cohen on Clickz.com, social media usage has been rampant, however the returns are not as expected for many of the lot. Twitter and Facebook are not the only channels to social media marketing and it is not free and not something companies can perform in their leisure. It involves much ado and needs dedicated resources if these platforms are to be exploited to advantage.
According to the EngagementDB study, spread and usage of social media channels is not sufficient, but engagement with the customers is important. The dual dimensions of spread of channels and depth of engagement determines the success of social media initiatives and can be related to financial returns. The study reveals direct correlation between depth of engagement and financial returns. In their study, Starbucks, Dell, eBay and Google are among the top brands with high end-user engagement.
On similar grounds, Heidi presents numerous ways to make social media marketing effective or to increase the level of engagement with customers/potential customers to create lead generation.
It is not enough to attract customers' attention using SEO, UGCs and presence on many social platforms. That was the easy part - the next series of steps are to keep them engaged and interested. Heidi suggests inclusion of options like "likes", social sharing, comments, reviews and RSS feeds on product information pages.
Including customer touch-points is also very crucial - arranging FAQs section on websites and dedicated human resources to revert to customer queries are very important: this makes it clear that efficient social media marketing does not come free and involves resources. It is important to keep interacting with interested prospects as purchasing process is long and you want to be on the top of their mind. Tracking of source of sales can also be achieved by using promotional codes.
Above all it is important to make the "story" memorable to be worthy of being remembered ad shared.