Measure for Measure

Getting started with social media success metrics

The social sphere is noisy: droves of plugged-in customers are tapping away on their devices of choice, sharing, searching, contributing, consuming, buying, etc.

And for every digital breadcrumb left behind, there are marketers and researchers trying to monitor consumer sentiment, assess the strengths and weaknesses of a particular campaign or determine the success of their brand’s social media efforts.

According to a report by San Mateo, Calif.-based Altimeter Group, “The Social Media ROI Cookbook: Six Ingredients Top Brands Use to Measure the Revenue Impact of Social Media,” only 30% of brands surveyed consider themselves to be “effective” or “extremely effective” at measuring the impact that their social media strategies have on the revenue that their companies bring in. Fifty-six percent of marketers claimed that their biggest hurdle is the inability to tie social media to business outcomes. Thirty-nine percent cited a lack of analytics expertise or resources, and 38% cited poor social media tools. Moreover, 84% of survey respondents reported that the primary business impact of social media isn’t revenue generation, but rather insights that help them improve the customer experience. Here, industry experts weigh in with five tips for getting your social media measurement strategy off the ground.

1. Map out your business objectives.

Marketers generally measure their social media efforts in two ways: through ongoing analytics and through campaign-focused metrics. Marketers use ongoing analytics to measure social media’s impact on things such as brand awareness, customer lifetime value and sales, and to assess current customer sentiment about their brands. Campaign-focused metrics are useful for understanding the impact of a specific social media marketing initiative and vary depending on the goals of that campaign.

2. Don’t indulge in “vanity metrics.”

While it’s easy to count “likes,” shares and retweets, and track your fans and followers, those numbers can be misleading. Such “vanity metrics” mean little in the context of organization-wide success metrics and can be difficult to translate into terms that convey a demonstrative business impact, Etlinger says. “If you have a lot of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, that’s nice, but are you bringing in new people from the marketing funnel?”

3. Follow your followers.

Rather than tracking fans and followers within social media, work on mapping out how social channels lead consumers to your website—and what those consumers do when they get there. The key to measuring your success in social media marketing is to determine how your social media efforts lead to further engagement on your website—and ultimately to any resulting sales, experts say—and there are free tools that you can use to get started.

4. Tie it into your CRM system.

To get a sense of how social media efforts might be impacting your customers’ behavior, tie your social media metrics efforts to your customer data, Elliott says. “In the e-commerce environment, actually tracking sales, connecting our social users profiles to our CRM databases so that we can track churn and lifetime value—this is what we have to focus on.”

5. Look for long-term impact.

“The ROI in social media is better customer engagement, or deepening the connection with a customer who you just acquired or that you already have,” says Marshall Sponder, author of Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics. Generating better brand sentiment and encouraging customers to share their opinions about your product moves them one step closer to a final purchase, but it generally takes three months to a year to show results for social media campaigns, he says. “You can’t really build your brand in two days. If you did, you’d be forgotten two days later.”

This article was written by AMA contributor Lauren Drell and Julie Davis and this post was re-purposed from the American Marketing Association. Read the full article here.

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