Identifying practical ways to measure social media marketing can be difficult. New social media platforms are emerging every day, often leaving even the most experienced marketing managers scrambling to keep up.
While counting the numbers of mentions, likes, fans, and friends are steps in the right direction, they can often be false positives. Instead, you need to understand what really counts in analyzing key metrics to determine true programmatic success.
What often obscures ROI are buzzwords and unnecessary complexity. Although we are still at the beginning stages of the social media marketing revolution, its effectiveness often depends on simplicity -- not mystery. The good news is that true ROI is not only achievable, but highly measurable.
For example, quantifying the impact of a fan on Facebook can never be homogenized into a “one size fits all” formula. The real value of a fan is -- and should be -- interpreted differently for each company. Social marketing should be measured like any other channel, so that marketers can optimize their programs and improve results. Campaigns that ostensibly demonstrate success by the number of likes or other unclear measurement tools lack the fundamentals of social marketing that lead to real success.
Before jumping on that latest social media platform that “guarantees” early-adopter status, here are four key measures that can transform a bogus social media campaign into an operation that yields tangible results.
Understanding reach can truly help prove how broadly you can frame a social marketing campaign. The decision of whether to engage ten thousand fans effectively or engage one hundred thousand fans poorly is one "thought exercise" that comes to mind.
Providing the right content and message that gets your story out to fans will open up their networks of friends, which will lead to engaging the friends of their friends, and so on. Rather than arbitrarily aiming to acquire fans and likes on Facebook, pursue direct channels of communications with your core following, which will invariably drive traffic again and again.
Giving reasons for active fans to participate and generate social actions and improving the frequency of engagement will increase the potential of returns to your page. If fans know they will be receiving content at a particular rate, you will improve the chances that your campaign will achieve your desired results. Hint: While frequency can be your friend, it can also be your foe. It is not always true that less is more. Sometimes less is less.
When it comes to true social marketing, click-throughs count. The ability to drive fans from a Facebook or Twitter account to your Web site gives marketers measuring points -- not only for sales, but where conversions occur. ModCloth, a brand that provides indie and vintage-inspired clothing, runs a Twitter campaign every Thursday called “I SPY THURSDAYS.” ModCloth posts a blurry image from its site and rewards followers who click the link by figuring out where the image originated from and tweeting back. This kind of program drives fan engagement and sharing, and keeps fans up to date on new products that ModCloth wants to showcase.
It then comes down to conversations turning into conversions. Understanding how effective your campaigns are in driving purchases, content views, members, and email acquisitions are authentic measurements of social marketing ROI.
Converting an onlooker to a purchaser, and then evolving that customer into a brand ambassador, is a process that has become streamlined with the help of social tools. Before deciding to take on that new social media channel, first identify its conversion potential. Establish yardsticks to measure and optimize performance in the key social channels for your audience. Grow the communications points between brand and fan by creating more content, asking fans to share that content, and increasing the level of attraction.
When you look at ROI measurement for your social media campaign, the bottom line is examining what’s working successfully right now and determining how that translates into the context of your business and social environment. You have to go beyond fans and likes to leverage the tried-and-true metrics that tell the story. From that perspective, social marketing can become the most powerful -- and measurable -- marketing channel of all.