Businesses are flocking to social media, but many have concerns regarding the use of this technology and question its utility as part of their marketing strategy. Some have avoided implementing a strategy for social media; taking a wait and see attitude before adding social media to their marketing strategy.
Much of this concern centers on discomfort over the ability of firms to assess social media success, especially with respect to measuring ROI (Return on Investment). In a recent study of industry leaders, most businesses agree that they can’t effectively measure their social media metrics.
Problems with marketing analytics
Some other concerns related to assessment of social media strategies voiced by these executive were:
- ROI – while 80% of respondents agreed this assessment was important, only 31% can measure effectively.
- Social media conversion – only 25% feel they can effectively assess online conversion
- Mobile media – Few respondents are currently using mobile marketing and, of those using mobile strategies, only about 30% of these can be measured if the consumer is using a mobile app
- Social video – less than half of respondents are using video to support their marketing strategy. Assessing these efforts, especially in terms of converting viewers, is considered important, but most (70%) felt they didn’t have adequate assessment tools.
Because measurement tools necessary to guide development and maintenance of a social media strategy are elusive, many firms use assessment tools that may provide inadequate guidance; maybe even lead firms to make decisions that fail to support their overall marketing strategy.
Some assessment tools that may NOT adequately guide marketing strategy are:
- Number of friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, etc.
- Number of app downloads, video downloads, etc.
- Page rank
- Digg links, social bookmarks, etc.
Certainly, other metrics are commonly used, but MAY not be particularly valuable in guiding marketing strategy because:
- The friends, followers, etc MAY NOT represent prospects for your business — they don’t have the need, money, or authority to purchase your products and services.
- Friends, etc are not engaged with the company or, worse, find your efforts annoying but have not unfriended you because of the perceived effort involved.
- Your social efforts fail to generate a “call to action” so fail to generate sales.
Metrics for marketing analytics
So, what kinds of metrics MIGHT translate into guidance for your marketing strategy.
Interaction – assessing metrics like comments to your blog, retweets, comments on your Facebook wall, sign-up for your RSS feed or newsletter, etc Also, look at at the number of people who are engaging with your across multiple social media – do they follow you on Twitter and fan you on Facebook, in addition to visiting your blog. These are much better assessments because they indicate involvement with your product or brand.
Brand metrics – having a good listening program is critical for success of your social media strategy for several reasons. From an assessment standpoint, a critical element of listening is to see what conversations are going on across the internet and how these conversations are affecting perceptions of your brand. You should also investigate the spread of your message through social networks to track success of vehicles used to stimulate these conversations.
Social engagement – This assessment looks at use of your blog to see how visitors interact with it.
- Unique visitors suggests your success in attracting new visitors to the site versus encouraging new visitors to your site. In some cases, you want lots of visitors, but if it takes more than 1 visit to convince visitors to buy your product (such as in B2B contexts) then you should be looking for return visitors
- Time on site
- Number of pages/ visit
- Frequency of visit
- Creating links to your content
Clickstream Data – this can be used to create leads from your social media programs and conversion of these leads gives a strong indication of the relative success of your marketing strategies. For instance, I have a proprietary algorithm that builds on a sales funnel to assess how good a prospect a visitor is to your company based on their pattern of readership.
New influence metrics – several social networks are beginning to assess the influence of members of social networks. While commonly used to find influencers who might spread the word about your company — helping your message go viral — these tools can also track the influence of your company. Indirectly, this assessment, especially changes over time, suggest the credibility of your firm.