Marketing in the era of social (or the connected consumer) involves brand listening, and allows brands to better understand consumer behavior, to optimize marketing messages that drive acquisition, conversion, or loyalty.
Evaluating metrics native to each social media platform is merely the starting point in understanding how content is resonating with consumers.
Measuring What Matters
What you measure matters. Using the wrong metric can mislead your strategy and give you inaccurate feedback on how your social marketing programs are performing. In health care, you wouldn’t measure blood sugar after treating an ankle sprain, since this wouldn’t tell you if your particular ankle treatment was effective. However, that’s exactly what is happening for brands when marketing in social media.
In the recent eMarketer article, Finally, Most Brands Measuring Social Content Effectiveness, it was noted that 80% of US client-side marketers measured the effectiveness of their social content, with social media ROI metrics such as “likes”.
These out of the box metrics that are available to us are not necessarily the metrics that tell how your marketing is performing. While “likes” is one of the most commonly used metrics, it isn’t indicative that the user actually “likes” something.
Using Your Social Listening Skills
Like, the verb, used to mean to enjoy, to find attraction to, or view in a favorable way. In the world of Facebook, a like can mean support for the content or user, humor in the post, or even as a means of sharing the content with others.
There are some cases where Facebook “likes” can lead you to wrong conclusions about your efforts. For example, in many posts about tragedies or natural disasters, there tends to be lower number of likes. No one wants to “like” a typhoon that devastates and displaces families. However, when brands practice social listening, they discover that people want to show their support and admiration for brands demonstrating social responsibility in the comments.
For these types of posts, “like” is not a useful metric for understanding performance. Instead the value and strength of sentiment of the comments can paint a more colorful picture of the users and their attitudes. Marketers can understand how strongly and how extreme users feel about the post. That is more useful than a “like” – in both senses of the word.
The Human Factor
It’s important to factor in the nuances of human behavior, voice of the community, and social trends when measuring KPI’s and social media marketing effectiveness. A human eye picks up those nuances and can give your brand fuel to ask the right questions in your content marketing strategy. We’re happy to say that we’ve helped plenty of Fortune 500 brands understand how to ask these questions, and factor in the human nuances, to discover their custom content marketing strategy!
What are you looking to learn from your social efforts? By being a member of the community, and intimately understanding the users’ perspectives and sentiments, we are able to develop metrics based on consumer behavior, which more accurately measure social media ROI.
Tracking Behavior Over Time
A popular metric that measures community behavior is the engagement per author metric – a number that tells us on average how many Facebook contributions each author makes. Even though the general rule is that most people in the community are passive content consumers, this metric tells us that there are people who come back over and over again to engage with the brand.
The higher the engagement per author, the better retention and sustained engagement the brand is having with each user. The users are finding the brand interesting, and they find that the content is worthy of contribution. This is different from volume of engagement, as that doesn’t necessarily track behavior over time. It is like a single shot experiment that gives you a snapshot of your social efforts. Engagement per author is more like a long-term exposure view of your social efforts.
Additionally, the users can be segmented by their engagements over a period of time; and those segments can be the start of an influencer or ambassador program. This is just an example of how you can create your own metric that fits your brand’s goals. Data in social is limitless; but data that matters depends on using the right metric for the right goal.
What social media metrics are you using to measure your brand’s KPI’s? Do you think content marketers are on the right track?
Share your thoughts on the effectiveness of social media marketing in the comments below!
If you’d like to learn more about measuring what matters, and engaging with a purpose, be sure to watch our Begin At The End: Content Planning for Insights Webinar.
Jennie Chen was a Marketing Data Analyst at LiveWorld with 13 years experience in online communities and content management. A frequent speaker at conferences such as SXSW, Ignite, and Social Media Club events, she has also worked on the influencer side with brands such as Chevy, Honda, Ford, Google, WholeFoods, and Ghiradelli.