How to Measure Social Media
Lately there has been a lot of discussion about how to effectively measure social media campaigns. Should we measure impressions on a CPM basis, should we measure a 1st step interaction such as a video play or should we measure the user interaction in length of time? Perhaps we should we try to track social to an ROI level as we do with organic search engine optimization, pay-per-click (paid search), display, email, and other interactive marketing with more clearly definable metrics?
While we have a lot to learn, we’ve learned quite a bit from the numerous social campaigns we’ve managed for our clients. One of the major findings is that social campaigns are unique. And I mean really unique. You can’t force a customer dialog if the customer doesn’t want to have one. The campaign must be both transparent and interesting enough to make a customer want to interact with your brand. The product, however, doesn’t have to be overly interesting, because most likely there are some people out there who are already fans of this product or brand, and the job of the social campaign is to unite these people and allow them to communicate directly with the brand.
And all of this has taught us a few things about measuring social. It’s tricky for sure. Each campaign is going to have a variety of stakeholders that will all care about different things. Some will care about fans and followers. Some will care about impressions. Some will care about clicks and interaction levels. Some will just care about direct purchase and lead acquisition. So…what is a marketer to do? We’re starting to work through this conversation with clients and help define a “path” of metrics to track. We are working a funnel process, or a customer purchase cycle, to identify clear and measurable points of interaction for the consumer during this campaign. This sounds easier than it is, because each business has a different understanding of their customer, and the purchase cycle, not to mention a different business need for running a social campaign in the first place.
For example, say a client is doing a social campaign to introduce a new tech product into the marketplace. Perhaps we’re holding a live world release and product demo on Ustream, and have held an event registration in Facebook. To promote this, we’ve built a twitter following based on a sneak peak photo opportunity campaign, and an event live-tweet road show. We’ve posted these pictures in a tagged Flickr and Photobucket account. We’ve ran connect based ads that are customized to users profiles in Facebook. We’ve ran ads based on job categories in LinkedIn. We’ve initiated a good forum discussion board and have seeded tech blogs with hot information releases. New product demo’s have been sent to leading bloggers and industry journalists. The campaign kicks off and it’s time to report the initial results. Ideally we’ve worked with the client ahead of time to identify a path to report along that makes decision making easy. Perhaps we’ve created a funnel reporting to identify:
- Customer Awareness – Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers, Ad Impressions, Blog Posts and Articles Written
- Customer Engagement – Facebook Fan Interactions & Posts, Twitter Mentions & Retweets, Blog Comments, Article Comments and Reads, Photo Views
- Customer Activity – Event Registrations, Demo Launch Views
The metric that we’re measuring changes as the campaign progresses, so naturally the reporting and focus should change as well.
So, bottom line, it’s a lot of work. But, when this is done correctly, we’re starting to see some unique findings. For one, clients are starting to enjoy their social campaigns. These campaigns are allowing them some artistic freedom, and a natural extension of what they do anyway. The clients are sometimes even becoming a bit more invigorated with their brand, almost as if learning more about it for the first time. And customers are responding. They are participating and asking questions. They are submitting information and scheduling events. They are event buying products and helping companies streamline R&D processes, through direct conversation and feedback.
Here’s an interesting article about how social media engagement levels are varied and should be looked at uniquely.