Commentary

Measuring Social Media Success

In a just released white paper from Covario, reporting on the Facebook health of 100 leading advertisers, Coca-Cola ranked the world’s No. 1 brand, with a following on Facebook of 34 million fans, growing at a monthly rate of nearly 3%, posting seven times a month, each garnering more than 235 comments and nearly 1,750 “likes.”

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But importantly, the purpose of the White Paper is to develop a series of metrics and best practices for managing continuous improvement on the platform in order that global advertisers can measure how they are faring with their fans on the world’s largest social media platform.

Facebook users number 800 million as of the time of the writing, more than any other social media platform. Twitter is estimated at 245 million users and LinkedIn, the key professional social platform, 120 million users. Facebook is notable for a couple of key reasons.

Facebook users are “active” users, or using the system more than 4 times per week. Less than 40% of Twitter users are considered active users. Facebook counts nearly 50% of its user base as power users (use the site at least once per day). A study done by comScore last year showed that Facebook occupies nearly 10% of the user time online globally, but has expanded since this study. comScore reported in May of 2011 that users were spending an average of 450 minutes per month on the platform, compared to 230 minutes on Google.

To develop a measurement process, Covario considered first the advertisers’ goals for a social media program to establish a benchmark result.  

Driving sales is the number one priority of advertisers with their social media programs in general, but a combined 47% see the goal as driving engagement and driving brand awareness, and another 14% say they are driving friends. Overall, then, says the report, 65% are using their social media programs, and their Facebook pages, to drive “soft” conversions, not explicit sales.

Goal of Social Media Program

Goal

% of Respondents,

Driving sales

35%

Driving engagement

24

Driving brand awareness

23

Driving more “friends” to social sites

14

Driving brand impressions

4

Source: Covario,Inc, October 2011

Another benchmark evaluator, says the report, is the implicit importance based on the financial support of the program.

How Social Media Programs Are Financed Within Organization

Funding Through

% of Respondents

Stand alone social media budget

38%

Search budget, paid or organic

34

PR budget

24

Display budget

3

Source: Covario,Inc, October 2011

The most common method of a social page is a “fuzzy” association based on brand engagement and follower statistics that can be statistically correlated to online or total sales, or to brand awareness statistics. Two key statistics that are readily available from Facebook (and all social media platforms) are the data from building online followers and driving online engagement, and can be correlated to brand awareness statistics and econometric based conversion events as the overall data grows, according to the report.

To this end, Covario looked at four key factors: Reach, Engagement, Technical Construction, and Reputation, defined and weighted in the final metrics for measurement:

Key Factors For Social Media Success Measurement

Factor

Definition

Weighting

Reach

Number of followers; Growth of followers

40%

Engagement

Number of monthly posts; Likes; Comments; Applications posted

30%

Technical

Brand name in title; Brand name in URL; Name in description; Connection from home page; Use of word “official;” Presentation in Facebook search

20%

Reputation

Number of negative user sites in Facebook search

10%

Source: Covario,Inc, October 2011

This 4 tier scoring methodology leverages all publicly available information. So advertisers can use this to measure their own success, and benchmark performance against competition:

  • Reach is a measure of the success an advertiser has in building its page follower count—effectively a measure of the reach of the Facebook page. The highest follower count for the top advertisers is 35 million, which is the equivalent of a 25 rating on a prime time TV show. In the last year, only one show hit as many consumers through TV—American Idol, with an 18 share rating, which means it hit 18M households and approximately 32 million viewers; plus follower growth.
  • Engagement is a measure of how well the advertisers are interacting with followers using relevant content. To measure relevancy, we used statistics on how well consumers react to original posts by the advertiser by looking at average comments and likes per post. We also looked at how many posts and applications are posted on the site during a monthly time period.
  • The technical issues deal with how brand names are used throughout key real estate on the Facebook page—specifically in the title, the body copy, and the URL. This is key for the search process used by Facebook,
  • Reputation deals with potential negative comments. Of the top 100 advertisers studied, 40% had Facebook pages created by users, which show up on search for the brand name, that are negative to the brand.

Using this proprietary, weighted model to profile each brand’s reach, engagement technical aspects of its Facebook page, and reputation, the top scoring 25 companies are shown here.

Top 25 Social Media Advertisers in Covario Scoring Model

Brand

Facebook Health Score

Reach

Engagement

Technical Struc­ture

Reputation

Coca-Cola

100

52

30

58

100

Hyundai

98

51

19

83

100

MTV

88

43

10

100

100

Disney

76

43

38

83

38

Bayer

73

27

8

100

100

HP

71

22

18

83

100

Victoria’s Secret

71

24

14

83

100

Best Buy

70

22

19

100

88

Samsung Mobile

70

16

18

100

100

Dr. Pepper

66

17

31

67

88

Macy’s

66

15

15

92

100

Neutrogena

65

18

8

100

100

DirecTV

64

22

17

100

75

Scrubbing Bubbles

64

20

3

100

100

HBO

62

11

18

83

100

Wendy’s

60

6

17

100

100

Apollo Group

60

14

17

67

100

Reckitt Benckiser

59

8

13

100

100

Pfizer

59

14

10

83

100

CVS

59

5

16

100

100

Sony

59

5

17

100

100

Subway

57

13

10

100

88

Hershey’s

55

8

14

75

100

Chevrolet

55

8

12

83

100

Nike

55

10

9

83

100

Source: Covario,Inc, October 2011

The white paper concludes with insights for driving Facebook interaction and engagement.

  • Having many outbound posts is not an optimization factor.  Less is more with Facebook.  Quality is what counts.
  • Quality is measured by the number of “likes” and comments received per post. The best brands at engagement obtain upwards of 750 comments and 1,500 “likes” per post.
  • There is no magic to the type of posts being run by successful brand advertisers. While promotions are rampant in advertiser posts, often posting generalized questions is more successful than hard promotions.

Complete study findings, further insights, and the research methodology are available in a complementary white paper, which can be downloaded from the Covario website here, or sign in for the paper here.

1 comment about "Measuring Social Media Success".
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  1. Bradley Giddens from SEO & Company, October 26, 2011 at 9:50 a.m.

    Thanks for the great research review Jack. It's very insightful.

    However, I do have a problem with the white paper insight "Quality is measured by the number of “likes” and comments received per post..."

    I don't think the number of "likes" is as important as the percentage of friends who engage in the post.

    Oversimplified, if Brand X has 100 friends and post an update, and only 1 of them "like" it, then that's a 1% engagement rate.

    Conversely, if Coca-Cola posts an update and of 34 million friends, only 1,985 (from above) of them engage, then that's a 0.01% engagement rate.

    Sure, Coke has more individuals interacting, but Brand X has a higher percentage of friends engaged. It's all relative.

    Curious to get thoughts from others.

    Brad

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