Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had numerous discussions with a new client regarding the art and science of social media analytics. After several years of trying to generate revenue for his business with social media, he’s finally turned to me because he’s just not getting the ROI he needs alone. Luckily, he didn’t give up on social media, as do many similar mid-sized businesses, believing social media won’t work for their particular industry or target market.
After several weeks of analyzing his metrics and doing some judicious A/B testing, I’ve learned a lot about why he’s not seeing the market performance he hoped. He has some content marketing issues we’re working on, poor SEO performance, and was miss using some social media platforms. Today, however, I’d like to talk about what I discovered in his social media analytics reports that is already creating big returns for his efforts.
The art and science of social media analytics
Interpreting social media analytics is really 1 part art and 1 part science — or maybe 2 parts art and 1 part science. A dollop of experiences and a smidgen of intuition doesn’t hurt either. Jim Sterne, the founder of the Digital Analytics Association, describes a data arts combining necessary attributes as someone who has:
a firm comprehension of hard science, a sound understanding of business goals and processes, a penchant for creativity, and a talent for communication — a very rare combination.
And, that’s my challenge in explaining to my client why he needs to change his social media marketing strategy.
Sometimes, I think I’m getting through to him. Other days, we joust at windmills — returning to ask and answer the same questions already discussed several times. Personally, I think it’s the dollop of experience and smidgen of intuition that separates our perspectives of what is the “RIGHT” social media marketing strategy.
KPIs, vanity metrics, and conversion
Ultimately, a brand seeks conversion from its social media marketing strategy. With accurate metrics from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc. analyzing conversion isn’t really that hard. The pathway to obtaining that conversion isn’t so clear.
Vanity metrics are those metrics that don’t clearly contribute to the success of your social media marketing strategy — in other words, don’t impact conversion. We often talk about Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers, etc as vanity metrics because, while everyone likes to list these as KPIs, they’re nearly useless. Slavishly accumulating higher performance across vanity metrics is a waste of resources and can seriously derail your social media marketing strategy, according to Social Media Today. Probably that’s why there’s so much variation in estimates of the value of a Facebook Fan.
Explaining this to my client, I have to acknowledge that a Facebook Fan isn’t ENTIRELY useless, as each reflects a certain ability to spread awareness of my client’s business. The question really becomes, what happens when awareness spreads. Hence, the art and science of social media analytics.
Here’s the scenario: He shares posts on his Facebook page, which has a really respectable number of Fans. He’s spending $1000’s a week to boost these posts.
Here’s what his Facebook insights look like:
My argument is that he needs to re-evaluate his Facebook spending. Sure, he’s getting a bunch of new fans and great reach. He’s also getting good engagement on his posts — which is NOT a vanity metric. Post engagement reflects folks who’ve liked, commented, or shared a post, which not only increases awareness, it acts as a tacit endorsement of the brand messaging contained in the post.
Despite showing some good numbers, his conversion rate sucks — a very technical evaluative term only used by seasoned analytics professionals. He’s driving a ton of traffic to his site, but less than .1% convert. Really sucky.
He argues for the continuation of his strategy because it yields great numbers (even arguing for increasing his spend) and I argue for a change in strategy to get higher conversion. Of course, we need a better understanding of why we’re so successful in creating a social media marketing strategy capable of generating great KPIs and vanity metrics, but really bad at generating conversion. Is it the CTA (call to action)? Is it something in our segmentation strategy (which is my personal suspicion even though I can’t put my finger on WHY I think it’s the target market)?
Some metrics are totally confusing. For instance, we get great engagement from France, but few of all those engaged Facebook visitors even show up on the website.
Any insights? I’d love to hear your ideas. I need both the art and science of social media analytics.
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