Social media refers to environments where people are interacting, communicating, sharing information and creating profiles. These may include, and are not limited to, social networks, blogs, social games and consumer commenting sites (reviewing and rating products).
Social Media measurement is increasingly important. First, marketers have high hopes for social media. Another reason is because measurement and budgeting for social media go hand in hand. ROI matters because proof of higher returns means continuing social media efforts. This way, marketers can have proof that what they are doing actually works–they want reassurance. The social aspect of social media is what makes it very rewarding, but with it comes risk. By tapping into information through customers, it can be difficult to keep tabs on a brand’s health and reputation when it’s constantly being talked about. You can only control and regulate social media to a certain point. According to a study by Forbes Insights and Weber Shandwick, 54% of a brand’s reputation is attributed to online sociability today, and is expected to grow to 65% in the next 3 years.
Today, social media measurement is not widely utilized. We as marketers are still too reliant on metrics such as the number of Facebook ‘Likes’ or Twitter ‘Followers’. Meanwhile, ROI questions still go unanswered. Sixty percent of marketers today use fan count as a success measurement in social media, and only 13% of US marketers found themselves to be ‘very effective’ at measuring social media campaigns, according to Chief Marketer. The key point is that we must move beyond the basics and look at metrics that focus on business value in order to move away from the stage of infancy.
The first steps involve the actual process of starting to measure. You can’t assume it’s impossible. Surprisingly, many marketers don’t measure because they think it’s far too complicated and they don’t know where to start, including 39% of worldwide retailers that don’t measure social media currently (Economist intelligence Unit). However, there is no silver bullet–there is no one, single metric that will provide you with a benchmark of success. The metrics that will matter the most are the ones that pertain to your specific company. These will vary among different industries and companies. Set clear goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) and begin measuring accordingly.
Here are a few steps you can take that will provide you with a solid starting point to being your journey of measuring social media:
Our brand has 38,072 Facebook ‘Likes’ and 42,689 Twitter Followers.
It’s not the number of fans, it’s what you do with them and what they do for you. Social media is reciprocal–it’s a two-way street, a conversation. Therefore, it’s important to know and understand who your brand followers are, including their demographics, what they say and how they help your brand. More importantly, it’s crucial to find the influencers, the mavens–those who post often and write about your brand or company and have social impact. The more you understand your fans and brand followers, the more ways you can tap into them. From here, the next step involves increasing the number of contributors–those who write on your wall and talk about you. This is key in getting your name out there in a positive way.
A great example of how this was done well in the past is the case of the Ford Fiesta movement. In 2009, Ford wanted to roll-out the Fiesta. By giving out 100 of these cars to the most influential people they found, they were able to create online buzz and a strong online presence. What Ford wanted to answer was, 1) can buzz generate leads and 2) can online buzz help save them money. They took the time to do their research and found the influencers. Through these influencers, they built a community months before the vehicle even went on sale. Normally, they would have gone to a car show, spent a lot of money on media and would have sat back to watch sales rather than use social media as heavily as they did. This was a completely different approach–they went after the people rather than sitting back and waiting for results.
Go beyond brand metrics.
The more marketers can work towards understanding how social media impacts your business, the better. Don’t just count the number of Facebook fans or the number of contributors–track them to the point of sale. Integrate and measure factors that are specifically important to your brand such as the number of leads, sales and revenue. Awareness and engagement are easy to measure, but social media can measure so much more. More online buzz correlated to incremental sales for Lay’s brand according to a study; an ad campaign triggered online buzz which in turn caused a sales surge for Skinny Cow ice cream brand, according to a study conducted by Symphony IRI Group and Visible.
Integrate social analytics with marketing analytics.
Once you understand how online buzz relates to your overall marketing performance through social media analytics, you can effectively bridge the gap between measurement and budget. From here, determining your ROI is the next step and can lead to building future business.
Stay tuned for a forthcoming blog post on Search Meets Social.