Community Measurement – What to Measure and Why!

Twitter’s recent purchase of BackType, which allows publishers to monitor the marketing impact of their Twitter posts, is just the latest example of the growing importance being placed on social data and the ability to measure its impact on brand. While this is hardly a surprise given the enormous investments being made by leading brands to build and grow social communities, it does raise the questions – what should I measure, how do I measure it, and – most importantly – how can I turn these insights into actionable marketing programs? This month, we’ll explore what key measurements every marketer should consider when integrating social media into the marketing mix and how best to leverage these critical insights to grow your marketing success over time. So without further ado, here are some of the key metrics to consider:

Performance. URL-shortening services like bitly have enabled brands to efficiently track individual posts across leading social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Important, yes – but when combined with robust reporting and analytic tools from leading social campaign management tools like HootSuite, Spredfast, Social Direct, CoTweet, ObjectiveMarketer, or Seesmic, marketers can begin to make better sense of performance data to identify trends. Adding campaign categorization capabilities, keywords/tags, date/time stamp information, and more, not only allows you as a marketer to better understand what is resonating with the community, but helps identify trends and content needs across social communities. As a result, marketers are better positioned to meet the needs and expectations of the community by dialing up and down key communication initiatives to optimize engagement and performance.

Influence. It’s not only about what’s clicked, but who is clicking. The emergence and growth of influence tools such as Klout, Twitalyzer, PeerIndex, and others that attempt to identify key influencers and social capital based on algorithms tied to activity, reach, and more will become increasingly prevalent. While the debate continues around the merit of these tools, given anyone active on social media has the potential to be an influencer, they do provide important insights based on past social activity. As a result, we’re beginning to see these tools integrated into various listening tools such as Radian6’s recent integration with Klout as well as social campaign management platforms, as leading brands attempt to identify potential advocates for relevant topics as well as their brand. As the industry matures and sophistication increases, social profiles and influence scores will be collected and connected with traditional data attributes including demographic, psychographic, segmentation, and transactional data so that influencers are not only identified but targeted and communicated to differently over time to grow marketing success.

Conversion. How many of us have done a great job measuring the impact of social campaign efforts on a program’s overall success? Probably far too few of us – however, the ability to code and track the impact of social campaign efforts is relatively easy with the use of dynamic landing pages or campaign tracking codes from leading analytics platforms like Google Analytics, Omniture, and Coremetrics. Incredible learnings are at our fingertips with just a bit of effort on the front end. I recently worked on a multi-channel marketing program for a new product market test that included tracking for targeted emails, banners, search, Facebook and Twitter posts, and “where to buy” tool links. While search, banner, and Twitter marketing efforts generated the most clicks, conversion to purchase was highest among email and Facebook users. These insights were invaluable and helped define the marketing strategy and approach for new product launch efforts moving forward.

Engagement/lifetime value. Engagement is the Holy Grail. More specifically, determining the value of engagement on lifetime customer value is the holy land. The use of Facebook Connect and/or Facebook and Twitter API to link customer activity across key social networks to the datamart allows users to track and integrate interactions across multiple touchpoints to determine channel preferences, engagement activity, marketing ROI, and customer value.

Last but not least, taken in aggregate, the combination of these key metrics form the foundation to not only track and measure key social programs, but to enhance traditional CRM efforts. For more details on the evolution of CRM with social, see my last column.

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