In the past couple of years, social media marketing has come from seemingly nowhere to emerge as a critical cog in the marketing toolkit. However, the tools for measuring success in this nascent field are still in the process of maturing, and it seems like with every new-fangled social analytic platform that emerges, they bring with them their own set of metrics and measurements that does not seem to gel with the rest. This begets the question - what kind of standards should we be using when measuring the success of social media campaigns?
Challenges in Measuring Social
For the traditional digital marketer (if there is such a thing), analysing digital campaigns has been relatively straightforward. We have established metrics like clicks, click-through rates (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), and conversion rates to measure digital above-the-line, and conversion, page-views, visits, traffic sources, and so on to measure the performance of a website or property.
These metrics, by and large, do not differ from platform to platform, be it web platforms or ad serving platforms, and form a common language between clients and agencies to communicate effectiveness.
However, in social analytics, the tables are turned. No longer do you have the ability to control how you measure (i.e., you do not have the ability to place your own tracking tags on Twitter, Facebook, or forums), and by and large you are reliant on third parties to feed and structure the data to you.
That is where the problem arises, as each platform will offer their own views of the data that is difficult to reconcile between them. Upon closer inspection however, you will find that the primary reason is in the way that the platforms approach social media, and consequently how you approach your social media campaigns.
So How Do I Approach It?
As mentioned, there isn't a standard way, and the approach I am sharing is one wrought from experience and might not be the best - social media is a brand new field, and anyone who purports to be a guru in this space (no matter how specialised they seem to be) should be approached with a grain of salt. But, hopefully, this can be a starting point to think about a framework for approaching and analysing this field.
Step back and think about the objectives of your social media efforts in the first place. What do you actually want to do, or find out, about your brand? Is your objective to garner more word-of-mouth for your brand? Do you want to use it as an intelligence tool to find out what your competitors are doing in this field? The inputs in this step of thinking will greatly influence the second step.
Identify What to Measure
Here lies the crux. From thinking about your objectives, you will then need to think about how and what to measure. Fortunately, the glut of tools out there right now has solved the "how" problem but created a bigger "what" problem. In our experience, it generally falls into one of three buckets:
Although we have not come away with a clean answer to the question of standards, I am hoping that this will at least help you step towards thinking around social analytics and creating a framework for thinking about how to measure success in this space. That said, we would love to hear about what you think would be the answer to this question.
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Adrian is the chief of digital marketing and technology in Yolk, a Grey Group company, one of Asia's leading interactive and digital media agencies with over 40 employees headquartered in Singapore. Adrian joined Yolk in 2005 and helped shape the vision towards a company where creative and technology is inexplicably linked to serve the higher purpose of marketing. With this approach, Yolk managed to secure regional accounts such as Microsoft, Cibavision, and Canon. Adrian has 12 years of experience in the digital industry with parts of those years spent in Microsoft being in charge of MSN Search, Portal, and advertising platforms, overseeing the expansion of MSN portal from a single market (Singapore) to five markets across Southeast Asia, part of the team that piloted Microsoft adCentre in Singapore and won "Global Product Manager of the Year" at Microsoft in 2004. His technological background is well complemented with his five years experience in advertising and publishing industry. Technology solutions, which Adrian creates, always serve the purpose of his clients in bridging the latest technologies with marketing strategies to boost their campaigns to their fullest potential. When not knee deep in technology, he produces electronic music under various monikers.
March 19, 2014