Brands looking to expand the reach of their messaging hardly need to be sold on the power of social networking, but once the foundation has been laid, getting the most from a social media campaign means not only having clearly defined goals, but knowing how to recognize when you’ve reached them.
Gaining productive insight from social media campaigns is one of the top challenges facing marketers as they grapple with the second-generation social Web. Two years ago, 70% of marketers reported struggling to understand the intricacies of social media engagement; and while the industry has certainly progressed since then, research data show many companies are still having a hard time translating their campaigns into actionable intelligence and, ultimately, a return on their investment.
One reason is that the metrics for gauging marketing success are infinitely more abstract than they once were. Unlike traditional advertising, which is a one-way endeavor, marketing via the social Web is like having a two-way conversation with thousands, if not millions of potential customers.
“When you advertise, you are transmitting a message, it’s me talking, you listening,” explains Michael Sansolo, research director at the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America. “The social Web puts the premium on listening. You begin by listening.”
But what is it you should be listening for and how will you know when you’ve heard it? According to Sansolo, rather than focusing on standard measures of ROI, success should be weighed by two variables: “Return on Influence”
Ask yourself, is your company’s brand seen as a positive force in the social media world? Are you correctly educating consumers about your company’s social role? When you put out a message are people sharing it?
The CCRRC recently released the final installment of a massive multi-year report on how retailers can leverage the power of social media. In it, they identify “four dimensions” of social media success and the metrics used to assess them:
1. Interest: A user has expressed interest in what you have to say.
Measures: number of followers, subscribers and friends.
2. Influence: A user appreciates content that they have found on your site and wants to pass it on to their network.
Measures: number of shares, pins, ‘likes,’ Tweets, sentiment and attitude of shared content.
3. Engagement: A user has chosen to engage with your content, positively or negatively, by answering a question or reacting to something.
Measures: number of comments, Tweets, click-throughs, sentiment of content and the context in which it was shared.
4. Activation: A user buys or obtains something through their interaction with you—be it a physical item, coupon or promotional engagement.
To stay closely tuned to what is being said about your brand and by whom, there are a number of free analytics tools available – like HootSuite and Klout – that allow companies to assess their social media reach. Most social media platforms have their own analytics applications as well, and Online Reputation Management (ORM) tools like Google Alerts, TweetBeep and Topsy offer free real-time monitoring of your brand’s presence in the social Web.