Social Analytics 101

Measuring What Matters

What is the value of a Facebook like? A Twitter mention? A repinned image on Pinterest? These are the existential social media questions of our time, and ones that all marketers are struggling to answer.

Over the past decade, social media has changed the way many people think about marketing and communications. Now entering maturity, social is no longer seen as fresh and new territory, but rather, a staple in the marketing toolkit of many brands. In fact, eMarketer estimated that advertisers worldwide will spend more than $29 billion on paid media efforts aimed at reaching users across the social web in 2016. This is not an insignificant investment, and scrutiny on quantifying the value of social will only intensify. It’s not enough to create a viral social campaign, marketers must have the performance data to back up such claims.

When measuring performance, it’s important to remember that key performance indicators (KPIs) are not all created equal. Social and web metrics follow the customer journey from initial awareness to brand loyalty, varying in strength and importance. In order to determine what metrics to evaluate, marketers must look at the goals of the campaign or program.

When planning an awareness campaign, look to expand the follower base, reach of a brand’s social message, and/or new visitors to the website. For a program focused on user engagement, don’t be satisfied with a high composite engagement figure. Rather, focus on specific user behaviors that make up the engagement score. Don’t be distracted by improvements in post likes when increases in mentions or shares are truer indicators of success.

Before the start of any social initiative for a brand, think through the following questions. The answers to these questions should also align with a company’s overall business objectives and how it views social as a contributor.

  • Goal: What do you want to accomplish?
  • Strategy: How will you reach your goal? Will you be utilizing organic content, paid content, or a combination of both?
  • Measurable Objectives: What is your estimated reach? What is your call to action? How many actions need to be taken?
  • KPIs: What on-site, off-site and social metrics should you measure against?

Social media is a noisy space. Every tweet, mention, favorite and share adds to the world’s rapidly expanding social data repository. In the age of big data, marketers are armed with more information than ever before. However, not all of this data is valuable – much of it is static, white noise – and it remains the challenge of marketers to measure effectively, pinpoint actionable insights, and utilize those findings for optimization and effective storytelling. After all, data points are meaningless without proper context.

 

 

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