Social media marketing measurements that matter

Serena Ehrlich is the social media guru for Business Wire. Tasked with taming social, mobile and evolving media technologies, Serena spoke to the Arketi Group about the best social media metrics to measure.

Arketi Group: Why does measurement matter in social marketing?

Serena Ehrlich: The entire premise of measurement really went mainstream over a decade ago because of the rise of social marketing. Since social marketing happens online, almost all types of engagement, from ‘clicks’ and ‘views’ to ‘shares’ and ‘discussions’, can be measured in real-time.

The ability to access such granular data so quickly, combined with the real-time nature of social discussions, means you can modify your programming instantly when the data suggests you need to pivot.

Being agile – being able to change tone, topic, assets or more – based on the inputs received from your target audiences means you can build a more responsive and effective social marketing program, ultimately helping you meet or exceed your goals.

What are the top three measurements that matter for social marketing?

SE: You must go beyond the easy measurements and look at the data that has an impact. The number of ‘likes’ will tell you if your content is reaching people, but that does not necessarily translate into sales.

First, look at the quality of discussions generated (and topical themes) and the overall share of voice these discussions have relative to your industry. Seek to use the data to answer two important questions: Did you change minds? Did your message permeate?

Next, you want to look at the actions taken: Did they click? Did they convert? Or did they ignore your calls to action? This helps you know how many leads your social program generated.

Finally, look at the reach of your social update. Don’t just count the shares of your news. Look more closely at who shared it and who follows them.

There are three good reasons to look at your social shares:

  1. Social shares beat social channel algorithms all the time. Social channels limit the visibility of your social media updates because they are ultimately ad networks and want you to pay to reach your audiences. When a human share your news out, they overcome the algorithm, introducing your news to their entire audience.
  2. In addition, social shares are highly trusted. Every other year, Nielsen releases its Trust in Advertising study, and each year it shows that when someone shares out brand news on your behalf, that content is trusted at a rate of 83 percent – which is huge.
  3. Lastly, looking at your social shares helps identify other influencers with who you can build relationships with. At Business Wire, one of our clients realized the largest number of people sharing their news were their own employees. This led them to create an employee advocacy program which increased employee shares by more than 30 percent.

Are there any red herrings in measuring social marketing?

SE: The downside to social media marketing is the fact we must rely on each channel to provide their metrics. Last year, Facebook announced the video views metrics they provided to brands were wildly incorrect. This announcement came after brands had already spent millions to create and promote videos on Facebook, based solely on what we now know was incorrect data.

The other issue is, of course, fake accounts and bots. This is one reason why you do not want to rely on likes or shares alone as your sole metric of success.

If you could only measure one thing for social marketing, what would it be?

SE: I would measure conversions. How my status update drove the company’s revenue goals is what I want to know.

What is the most cost effective measurement in social marketing?

SE: The cheapest way to measure social media impact is to use each channel’s provided social media tools. While they can be a bit clunky–or in the case of Facebook, completely overwhelming–each channel does have a wide range of metrics you can use to measure success.

What tool(s) do you recommend for social marketing measurement and why?

SE: First, you need a URL builder from your website analytics program so you can track all the inbound traffic you generate. This will tell you how these users engage with your website. It lets you answer questions like:

  • Does your landing page work?
  • Do you need more or less content on a webpage?
  • Do your conversion paths work with social vs. search visitors?

Then you will want to find the best measurement service for you.

To find the best measurement tool, start with your end goal. What exactly do you want to measure and collect? What kind of reports do you need? Do you want automated monitoring or human measurement? Once you know what you need, it will be easier to find the right tool.

My current favorite social measurement tool is NUVI, one of Business Wire’s partners. NUVI allows you to build monitoring profiles in seconds and then provides both textual and visual monitoring tools. They also have access to Facebook data that many other providers do not have.

Serena Ehrlich is director of social and evolving media for Business Wire, a CIPR partner.

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