We are currently in the third iteration of social media, and adoption is quickly becoming more measurement-focused. Tools are being built to make a smarter approach to social media because people are beginning to realize that measuring social results actually MATTERS.
I am a strong advocate for viewing social media as more than just statistics and measurement. I've written about this before-listening to our social media channels is about engaging with customers, and it gives us more than just sales or leads.
However, in our social campaign discovery, it is important to remember that social media engagement is no different any other marketing tactic. It's just one piece of the pie, and in the end, what we learn should be measurable or quantifiable on some level. It's the only way to know if you are achieving your company objectives and goals. You have to measure your results to know what's working what's not, and where you have opportunities for growth.
Here are 7 areas that must be covered when working with measurement strategies:
1) Marketing optimization. Social listening can help you adjust your marketing efforts to better identify your audience. For many businesses, everything from Google Analytics to enterprise level IBM Coremetrics are great tools. You want to determine what terms people are searching and what sites they're originating from. There are so many things to optimize in your approach including campaigns, content, channels, timing and influencers. It's crucial that you understand the key terms to follow for your business.
2) Action-oriented. In August 2011, the top method used to measure the success of social media campaigns was tracking the numbers of people linking as friends, followers and "likes," according to a Chief Marketer survey. But social marketing will not work if all you're going to do is just sit back and watch your likes and followers add up. You need to contribute valuable content and stimulate conversation within your social community.
Plus, marketers can focus more on hard metrics to gauge digital and social marketing ROI. An equation was applied to SeaWorld San Antonio's Journey to Atlantis social media campaign. Using this formula they measured their actual costs at $44,000 to determine their cost per impression. The same was applied in each category (television, etc). Overall, they spent $0.22 on social media vs $1.00 for television. Using the same formula via surveys for each visitor to the park they determined the revenue for the online group represented more than $2.6 million in revenue. Not too shabby!
3) Timely. You know the saying, "A day late, a dollar short?" This applies perfectly to social media. You can't check in with your social channels once a week, or even just once a day. You'll be too late and the impressions won't be as high. You need to listen and measure consistently and respond accordingly. Timeliness is critical to getting a good read of what's happening in your social networks and for responding in an appropriate manner. Negative sentiment can spread like wildfire in social media as well, and if you're late, it can get out of control.
4) Tools. There are many great tools for measuring social media results. Export.ly helps you analyze your Facebook fan page, Twitter audience and more through downloading customizable Excel spreadsheets.RowFeeder is an inexpensive way to monitor what people are saying about your brand. If you want to figure out how often your tweets are being shared and by whom, check out TweetReach. Other tools includeFacebook Insights, Klout, Social Mention, Hootsuite and social media metric plugins for Google Analytics. Remember that the tools have to meet the objective of the campaign, not the other way around.
5) Engage. This word might be over-used, but it's really what your social media efforts are all about-engaging with your audience. Ultimately you want sales, of course, but in social media, engagement is the means to increasing reach. By posting content that resonates with your target audience (and this assumes that you know who that is), you will get better response, and therefore better engagement and in turn share it out to their friends. If you're not engaging with your audience and getting the conversation going, you're simply not going to have much to measure.
6) Revenue. Here's the ultimate goal, right? Increased revenue. Business that used social media increased their revenue and growth by 60% versus 8% for business that did not use social media, according to a report by Marketo. So while brand awareness and customer engagement are obviously terrific goals for your social media efforts, don't be fooled into thinking of them as your end results. Measuring your social media results may, in time, help you begin to see some correlation between your social efforts and increases in revenue, especially as tools and measurement strategies improve.
7) Strategy. While this may be the last measurement area on my list, it should be the first thing you consider-your social efforts should be based on a clear strategy to achieve certain business objectives. An Altimeter Group report found that 70% of businesses believed social media could meet business objectives, but only 43% had a formalized strategy for how social would meet their specific business goals. Don't just go spin your wheels on Facebook and Twitter. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve.
Key Takeaway: While social media is about learning, listening, and building your marketing strategy in real time, you CAN'T ignore the analytics-measuring results must be a part of your social media strategy in order for it to matter at all.