Newsflash: In case you haven't heard, social marketing is not just about likes, shares and mentions anymore. The ways that brands promote and engage via social media is evolving and so are the ways to measure key metrics and ROI-and with more and better tools on the market, it's getting faster and easier to acquire data.
Why is this is a big deal? Because companies who use social media as a marketing tool need to know it's working, just as they would with any other tool in their arsenal. If it doesn't work, why use it?
Analytics give us feedback that allows us to marry the right brain, or the emotional side of marketing, with the left brain, or the rational, side. It's easy to get excited about 10,000 likes on Facebook, but what if you've only really engaged with five of those people? Your right brain can throw an "I'm so popular!" party while your left brain is left wondering, "Exactly how much will this cost and what kind of revenue will it generate?"
We have a saying here at the agency: "Market to the heart, and sell to the head." To us, this is the secret sauce in lifecycle marketing, because you need both sides of the brain to execute a well-oiled plan. So, the burning question is, "How can you factually quantify the social 'emotion' - or sentiment of a brand - in social channels, without sacrificing the genuine heart-felt feeling social media delivers so well?
Scoring systems like Klout, Kred and Appinions are all onto something, but they aren't yet there. They measure only the social shares, likes and mentions. But they don't yet measure effectiveness, reach or impressions. That's like measuring how many guests came to your party, how many drinks they consumed and how long they stayed. All great information, but you still won't know if they had a great time or if they drank more because they were bored to tears. These scoring systems are certainly something to watch, and a good place to start, but they're not quite there yet.
It's challenging not to be swayed by the growth of your fan base and followers, but it's crucial to measure their engagement and reach - something that's not yet scored in your standard system. Here are five ways to be sure you're using the left side of your brain to understand how the right side is feeling in the social media arena.
1) Understand your business objectives. Think high-level-what are your company's overall objectives? Your social strategy should reflect higher-level objectives, not live as something entirely separate with a timetable and agenda all its own. Be sure your social objectives mirror and support your company's overall business plan so it helps weave together other initiatives to make them stronger.
2) Build a trend base. Gather outside research (social research makes this affordable) so you can compare external tested facts and sentiment vs. purely internal data. After all, external and internal perceptions are usually often different, and opportunity lies in the sweet spot where they overlap.
3) Review social sentiment values. News, online, and social media are shared in either a negative, neutral or positive sentiment. As users comment within each of these values, it should help you build both your overall strategy and build your engagement strategy at the same time.
4) Prioritize. You can't do it all so do the most important. There are a lot of ways you can build this into an exercise that can be fun, whether it be for content your company wants to socialize or marketing initiatives tied to budgets. Write them down on huge Post-it notes, grab some stickies and vote. You'll be surprised what might be important to others - even non-marketers - when asked and included.
5) Marry them together. Take the facts (your left brain) and you're your gut feeling (your right brain) and send them out to socialize as a couple. One without the other is an incomplete way to view your social success, because they're partners. Then social listening becomes a form of "couples therapy" - hearing both sides of the story and seeing what is resonating with your social audience. What resonates with the heart is what your head will try and rationalize.
Key Takeaway: No one buys solely based on facts. How they feel about a brand, their experience with it, what others are saying about it, it all matters. The heart and head both play a role in determining if your social strategy is hitting the mark, and leveraging your smart, well-planned marketing efforts together with social metrics becomes a sales no-brainer.