A quick guide to measuring social media
Last week it was reported that only 10% of clients are measuring ROI in social.
So, to help the other 90%, here is our quick guide to measuring the impact of social media:
1. Learn from what works
The only way to do this is to read voraciously. Read the mega posts from the experts who pour over every pixel, data point and new argument. A good start would be Avinash Kaushik and Olivier Blanchard.
2. Decide what is value
Paint a clear picture of why what you are doing matters to the business. Establish where value lies. What are you really trying to achieve? Gaining true ROI can be difficult depending on what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes you will have to use proxies to prove the link. So be prepared for this.
3. Be single-minded and measure what matters
Avoid analysing data puke at all costs. There are hundreds of distracting social data points to sift through. Focus on choosing a few metrics which you want to use as your Key Performance Indicators. These KPI's will form the basis of your measurement framework and will map back to your business and marketing goals. Whether its NPS, trial, CSAT, loyalty, awareness or churn, it doesn't matter. Choose one and focus your efforts.
4. Avoid using vanity scores
Engagement is not defined by Likes, Comments, Shares, RT's etc. This is the outcome of engagement. They are very useful indicators of course, but ultimately a proxy for the Big Hairy Scores of: customer satisfaction, brand love, loyalty etc. Put engagement data in context, along side known benchmarks and map it back to your goals.
5. Establish your analytics suite and get a good work-flow
There are hundreds of tools and dashboards out there. You need to trial, test and get good advice to find the ones that suit your needs. Then establish a good mix of tools that can form your measurement command centre and ideally sync with some of your internal systems. And if you are game enough customise some API's along the way to refine your analytical picture.
6. Understand how influence works
An increasingly important area of tracking the impact of social is understanding how influence is measured on the social web. Understand the principles, the players and the flaws. It may not be top of mind now, but it will be very soon.
7. Be comfortable with time frames
Tracking the impact of social on a business or brand takes time. This is the long game peeps. Social media marketing data is real time, but if your goals are to build brand performance then this will take time to evaluate. Try and establish milestones to checkpoint progress and compare with any known benchmarks.
8. Look for patterns of change, not absolutes
You are sifting through lots of numbers and most of which are tiny. It's about connecting the dots between what happened over a period of time to establish patterns, rather than absolute scores you can report on. Mapping content patterns to page performance will help you arrive at decisions on how you can optimise performance.
9. Get your executive team on board
Social media is about change management. If your exec team don't understand what good looks like in social then it will be difficult to make that cultural progress you need. All interested stakeholders need access to the measurement dashboard and understand what success looks like. This will help you make the case for social and how to budget for future activity.
10. Keep testing and change it up when it doesn't work
Measurement comes hand in hand with testing. Social is a naturally iterative environment. Use A/B testing where you can to optimise performance. Look at content performance in real time and change if it isn't performing. Drop things that don't work, swap out and invest in a steady stream of new initiatives.
11. Focus on gaining value from insight
The best value you can extract from social media is customer insight from intelligent listening and engagement. To put a business value to this is difficult but is doable, but it is probably your best asset when making the business case for future investment.
So if your business hasn't already, it's now time to start the hard graft.
Its not easy, it changes all the time and the skeptics will peck away at your endeavours. But hang in there and prove the case. Make the link. Publish your efforts and be prepared to learn along the way.
David McNamara is Strategy Director at Jam.