This week we've looked at best practices for social media listening, engagement, publishing, and advertising. Once you've optimized your social media presence for listening, engaging, publishing and advertising, the last step (before rinsing and repeating) is effectively using social media measurement. With tons of data, the information is there for you, but organizing and interpreting it presents unique challenges.
Here 10 best practices for social media measurement:
1. Align your objectives with your metrics
For measurement to be effective, it has to align directly with the measurable objectives you’ve set. Those objectives should follow the SMART methodology, first introduced by Peter Drucker in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management. The acronym stands for your goals being Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed.
2. Pick a goal
Good social media goals are usually in line with the greater goals of your organization. Here are some popular ones:
- Increase awareness
- Generate leads
- Convert leads to sales
- Retain existing customers
- Reduce costs
3. Segment and trend
You’ll know when you’ve segmented your KPIs enough when you say, “Ah ha! Now that’s something actionable!” Until then, keep slicing and dicing. For example, if you’re trying to figure out if your new Facebook efforts are driving awareness you might look at:
- New visitors from Facebook
- New visitors from Facebook with more than three pageviews
Lastly, you’ll want to look at how these KPIs trend over time. For instance, did your recent Twitter ad buy increase your awareness metrics over the prior month?
4. Track and measure social media leads and purchases
You can track revenue in different ways, depending on your business model. For B2B companies, you may label a lead as a person who has downloaded an ebook and completed a form in exchange for content. With a B2C company, you may track users who have perused or purchased on your ecommerce website, or someone who signed up for your company newsletter, and label them customers.
Regardless of what you call it, make sure you can properly attribute leads and revenue that comes from social media. Tracking codes within links sent out through social media are a good way to capture this information. This data will help shape future social media initiatives.
5. Measure cost savings
Sometimes, the value in a business endeavor isn’t about what goes up – like revenue – but what comes down, like costs. Social media can have some very clear efficiencies, most notably on the customer service side, but also in areas like training or communications. In particular, this is great for tracking savings that come from using social media for customer service.
In cutting down on call center volume by answering customer inquiries on platforms like Twitter, not only are you making people happier, but you are also freeing up customer service reps to handle more complex issues over the phone.
6. Create a central dashboard to bring in disparate metrics
One of the big problems with measuring social media campaigns is that data is all over the place. You may have some data directly from social networks, some from third-party tools and other data from internal analytics teams. This can make assessing a campaign incredibly frustrating.
Using whatever technology you deem most effective (Excel, for instance, can work), compile all of this data into one central dashboard for easy viewing. You can use numbers, charts, graphs, etc., but putting everything in one place can ensure you aren’t missing anything while removing redundancies and superfluous information. It all makes presenting data at a meeting a whole lot easier.
7. Determine how you'll define ROI
ROI is and will, for quite some time, be the magic three letters in social media marketing. Everyone wants an answer to the question, “how do I track ROI on my social media efforts?” Many are understandably frustrated when there is no single answer to this question. But just like most traditional advertising strategies, measuring the impact from marketing campaigns is always tough.
Social media gives more information than your other marketing efforts, but you have to know what to do with it. Even if you aren’t driving directly to a commerce page, it’s important to decide what series of actions a user could take that eventually would lead to a sale. Once you have that, you can figure out how to track that before your campaign gets underway. It’s a lot easier to put your ROI-tracking in place first rather than later trying to figure out how to define it.
8. Be prepared to pivot on everything
With social media, the beauty is the flexibility; if you suddenly want to change the direction of a campaign, it requires very little time and effort. That’s why regularly meeting with those who have a hand in your social media campaigns to go over metrics is critical for your success. These meetings may lead to a change in a direction, tone, or even the actual metrics you are using to define success. Constantly assessing whether you are looking at the right data is as important to your success as looking at the success of your content.
9. The usual metrics are great, but they aren't for everyone
We’ve all heard the usual suspects when it comes to social media data:
- Click-through rate
These can be great and useful pieces of information based on your campaign goals. But don’t feel compelled to look at these metrics just because “everyone else is doing it.” In fact, it’s possible that the best metrics for you are not ones that are presented in spreadsheets by the networks themselves or third-party tools. Do what you need to do to get the most out of the available data, and don’t feel the need to limit yourself to the popular crowd of social media metrics.
10. Use every available measurement tool
Using all of your available resources to calculate and put data into context is the best way to track your successes. Whether that means using pre-populated spreadsheets from third party tools, looking at social network analytics sections, or even whipping out a calculator and crunching numbers the old- school way, don’t skimp out on measuring your data. It’s the only way to know whether you are on the right path with your social media efforts, and can greatly impact the way you operate moving forward.