For all of the time and money companies are investing in social media, marketers continue to grapple with basic questions about ROI. Is the investment worth it? Can the potential pay-off ever be measured accurately?
Progress in answering these questions varies from business to business, but at least one company has decided that its latest investment in social is really an investment in search.
TD Bank, in conjunction with its agency iCrossing, developed 96 videos targeted at individual branch locations in New York. The videos, which show off each branch and contain an interview with the manager, were developed specifically for Google+ and the Google+ pages the bank operates for its branches.
As detailed by AdAge's Cotton Delo, TD Bank's "Bank Human Again" campaign may be taking place on a social platform, Google+ is really a search campaign. According to Delo, despite the fact that Google+'s influence on search rankings isn't clearly established, TD Bank believes that its effort is a worthwhile one. "If we can make our content more relevant and more interesting, then, in my mind, that can only benefit us from a search perspective," the company's CMO, Vinoo Vijay, told AdAge.
While time will tell if Vijay's assumption about search is correct, there are a couple of interesting angles to TD Bank's campaign worth noting. The most obvious, of course, is the fact that TD Bank is focusing on Google+, not Facebook, and the content is being developed specifically for Google+. Brand adoption of, and traction on, Google+ has grown considerably in the past year, but as AdAge's Delo notes, many brands simply repurpose their Facebook content for Google+. In other words, Google+ typically gets Facebook's scraps. TD Banks' campaign suggests that could change.
It's also worth observing that TD Bank's campaign is a social first campaign. Instead of developing content that is only applicable to social, or taking content that was produced for use in another channel and repurposing it for social, TD Bank has developed its 96 videos specifically for use on Google+ and will then use them in a standalone fashion with ads that are geotargeted.
That, on the surface, seems like a smart move. Increasingly, marketers will have to come up with satisfactory answers to the social media ROI question, even if social's overall value is widely accepted. One of the ways they may be able to do that is to ensure that the content they're developing for social initiatives is an asset available for broader use, not a one-off which has a short life span thanks to the speed at which the social mediasphere moves.