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The Secrets to Driving Social Commerce: Google & Mel Carson on Social ROI at #SESNY

Posted on Mar 28th, 2013
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    Secrets to Driving Social CommerceIn advance of their SES New York session on social commerce, I wanted to see what tips and tricks moderator Mel Carson and speaker Deitra Mara could share with our readers. At 9:30 am March 28th, the two will join Tami Dalley from Salesforce to present Social Media Meet ROI: The Secrets to Driving Social Commerce.

    Carson and Mara graciously participated in interviews prior to their session, to share their experience and advice with marketers looking to improve their social media channel awareness, content creation and social ROI.

    Carson, formerly of Microsoft, is the founder of social, PR and personal branding consultancy Delightful Communications. As moderator, he’ll have his hands full with the two powerhouse speakers.  Carson told us, “I’d encourage anyone to come to see two very powerful women in the industry speak. Deitra and Tami bring a lot of insight into different tools and products, best practices and disciplines on how to prove the ROI in social media commerce exists and how to get more of it.”

    Deitra Mara, GoogleMara is Google’s Head of Social Solutions for North America. She started at Google in 2003 as a Creative Maximizer, working with advertisers to improve their ad performance primarily via keyword, ad text & campaign optimization.  Over the next nine years, Mara’s experience across Google ranged from Vertical Sales & Operations to her role as a Search Lead, where she worked on global knowledge sharing & broader search adoption programs.  She kicked off 2012 by moving into her current role, in which Mara helps brands to get the most out of Google+.

    Understanding the Social Data Available to You

    One of the features of the platform she’ll speak to in her session is Ripples, with reporting that creates a visual representation of the way post content has been publicly shared across the Google+ ecosystem. Circle size is commensurate with the impact of an individuals share, she explained, so if an individual has a large circle, their share has a larger impact than the share by an individual with a smaller circle.

    Mara explained to us why this feature is significant for brands looking to improve their social ROI: “These Ripple reports are available for any post that has had public shares, so a brand that’s monitoring these reports will begin to see if there are particular individuals that are consistently sharing their content & doing so with a significant impact.  These individuals are likely brand advocates & savvy brands are beginning to put them into their own circle so that they can then message to them directly or invite them to virtual focus groups via Hangout, etc.”

    See this example for a Ford post with a significant public share by Gabriel Vasile:

    Google Ripples

    Insights like these, especially presented in a visual and easy to digest format, are valuable for marketers, said Carson. When asked what he feels is the greatest untapped opportunity for marketers today, Carson told us, “Just the sheer wealth of big data that is out there, that we’re not tapping into as comfortably as we have done with search metrics. It will come though. It’s great to see social platforms like Pinterest, Google and Twitter getting more serious about providing richer analytics and targeting options.”

    The Integration of Search & Social – Each Has Unique Value; Together They’re Better

    Social annotations are another of Google’s tools that marketers should absolutely take advantage of, according to Mara. Advertisers who enable social annotations on their search ads see an average CTR increase of 5-10%, she said, with some advertisers reporting significantly greater impact.

    H&M, as an example, reported +22% CTR increase, while Interflora reported +31% CTR increase using social annotations, according to Mara. “We’re seeing the impact of social endorsement on conversions, as well,” she said. “Recent Compete studies indicate a 91% lift in conversion rate on auto sites for unbranded auto terms when social annotations are present on ads – ie.: locating a dealer, requesting a quote, building your own model, etc.”

    Google social annotations

    Integrating your search and social efforts is key, said Mara. “We certainly wouldn’t say that search or social is more important than the other, as each has it’s unique value independent of the other,” she explained.  “The integration of the two is where we see savvy marketers really benefiting, because it’s a better experience for consumers.”

    As a consumer, she said, “I want to see the recommendations of my friends & family as I search, I want to see more information from brands that I like, and I want those preferences integrated seamlessly into my search experience.”  Based on the CTR & CNV impact of social annotations, they know that consumers find the integration valuable and that they’re delivering an improved search experience.

    Moving Toward More Accurate Social ROI Measurement

    To help make brand content more discoverable, Mara recommends that brands first create and verify their Google+ Page, so that Google knows it’s the official page for the brand.  “Then, begin posting engaging content & begin growing your following,” she advised. “We’ll do the rest, working to surface your content to users when they search for your brand on, highlighting brand endorsements in annotations & promoting particularly relevant posts to your followers when they search for terms specific to your post content.”

    Marketers are closer to understanding the value of social and accurately measuring ROI, Carson said. “We’re catching up for two reasons: One, we’re getting better at translating what the data is telling us into words and wisdom that CMOs and non-digital purse string holders can understand,” he explained.

    Secondly, said Carson, “…it’s a bit of a moving target (as most things are in the digital industry) as new platforms come onto the scene and others move the goal posts.” There is no doubt there is enormous value in having social media – or real-time digital response mechanisms – as part of the marketing mix, as participants will learn in this session at SES.

    Do you have your social ROI down pat, or are there areas you could stand to improve? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

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