Akamai Marketing’s Tara Coomans on Social Media Strategy and Trends

Pubcon video content producer caught up with Tara Coomans, head brainstormer at Akamai Marketing for this Skype video interview about social media and Honolulu, Hawaii. Coomans first discussed the social media campaign that she is most proud of because of her ability to overcome time restraints and create a successful campaign. Her client was part of a high-end retail location in Hawaii, and Coomans was brought in on the tail-end not leaving time to do the prep work typically necessary for the greatest social media campaign success. The objectives of the campaign were to drive traffic to a VIP event that was a precursor to a three-day sales event, so Coomans took existing content, developed several Twitter hashtags and created a small campaign with that they had. They shared videos relevant to the organization and product as a way to engage potential customers, Coomans said, but no custom content was used because of time restraints. The end result suggested the use of social media equates to more conversions as the clients’ Facebook audience grew by about 80 percent and 70 percent on Twitter through best practices, engagement, and a little bit of strategy. 80 percent of RSVPs for the VIP event were a product of social media channels and they were all new customers, Coomans noted. What was learned, according to Coomans, was that if you take a strategic approach and do some planning, social media can have a direct impact on business. Coomans was also able to attribute direct sales to social media, often a challenge when trying to determine last touch attribution with regards to digital marketing.

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Coomans is responsible for creating headway in determining a return on investment (ROI) for social media, and she revealed that one of the hot topics surrounding that includes the influence of word-of-mouth and determining how to track and value some of those pieces. We know that customers, clients, and potential partners don’t always act immediately when they see an offer, a promo or even your brand, so we want to create a time-line for how those touch points affect the process and also the value of word-of-mouth, Coomans noted. It’s a little like building on the influencer concept, just as they have more ability to reach a wider audience, but which doesn’t in and of itself always have a lot of value, Coomans added. Trying to identify ways for companies to value their social media efforts with an eye toward ROI with that word-of-mouth piece is what Coomans said she hopes to accomplish. Research shows word-of-mouth is truly valuable to ROI and it’s an important element if you are taking a long-term approach to social media, so while you might only look at it in the context of a campaign, it should be something that you continue to track post-campaign so that you really get a view of the ins and outs of the campaign’s effectiveness, Coomans said. Coomans was contacted to be a tester for a new product that will help with determining the ROI of social media and is hopeful that in the next year or year and a half digital customer relationship management (CRM) will start to become the secondary leg behind the analytics of social media. “I think we are headed in that direction and that is going to make the ROI results more clear for businesses,” Coomans said.

In addition to the social CRM piece, trends in 2012 according to Coomans include the rise of gaming by way of Facebook apps and engaging people in a fun and stickier way then we’ve seen in the past. Video is also going to be a huge piece of content, Coomans said, and I also think we can’t discount the fact that mobile has a place permanently in our pockets. A study noted by Coomans releaved that smartphone and tablet digital consumption will take over our desktop in he next 10 years. The key takeaway, said Coomans, who also thinks that when you get on a smart phone or tablet you engage more with social media because it’s more immediate and accessible. That will directly impact the use of social media and the number of people who are using it regularly, including sites like Twitter and Foursquare, Coomans said.

In conclusion, Coomans suggested attendees of Pubcon Paradise taking place February 13-15 in Honolulu, Hawaii try Morimoto restaurant on Waikiki. Head chef Morimoto, known for his presence on the Iron Chef television show, loves Hawaii, and Coomans was told it’s not unusual to find him in the kitchen at the restaurant. The other thing, according to Coomans, is that Hawaii is a mixed blend of cultures and they have a lot of different foods. If given the chance, Coomans encouraged attendees to try a spam musubi, which she described as warm, salty tasty goodness that serves well as a post-beach snack. Lastly, Coomans suggested attendees try plate lunch, a Hawaii staple consisting of macaroni salad and kalua pork, high in carbohydrates and meant to push you through the day.