“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Kyle Barber, SVP Global Performance Lead at McCann Worldgroup.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were one simple metric that neatly measured the effectiveness of all social media advertising and marketing? Unfortunately, such wishful thinking has emboldened more than a few marketers to embrace fan count as the new "holy grail."
The total number of fans, or page “likes” as Facebook would have us refer to them, does in fact reflect some engagement with a brand. But to assume fan or follower growth is an indication of purchase intent is dangerous. People declare their fandom for a number of reasons; often it is because a marketing tactic rewarded them for doing so.
A more sophisticated and encompassing viewpoint embraces the notion that brand marketing benefits from a clear underlying strategy. It needs to utilize strategy-specific tactics across the full spectrum of the customer journey and measure all engagement to predict business outcomes.
Where to start? Understanding brand engagement from the consumer’s perspective is a good first step. Since consumers do not use social media to passively listen to brand messages, it is critical to measure their full experience on the platform. That means far more than clicking “like” for a brand or product.
For example, in the case of Facebook (and more specifically, the Facebook Timeline page), marketers should blend basic traffic information with a wide array of data sets. Here are five measurements that may be taken into account.
Measure engagement for the Page’s interactive content. Just as we assume the customer journey doesn’t end when a banner or paid search listing drives a consumer to the landing page, traffic to the Timeline page is just the beginning of a rich interactive experience. Identifying the ratios between traffic, content engagement, and earned impressions shows what excites consumers and where they drop off.
Explore the balance of paid and organic traffic to the Timeline page. While media buyers will likely focus on how well social media ads drive traffic to the Timeline page, brand-building marketers should devise strategies for further engaging both paid and organic traffic once they arrive.
Understand how the paid and owned content become earned impressions through sharing. Looking at interactions is helpful in the same way as measuring end actions on brand pages and microsites, but social media allows for further exploration by determining how interactions lead to advocacy efforts after the Timeline visit.
Identify the potential influence of each brand advocate. Using external data partners like Klout or Kred, official research partners encamped at Facebook, or homegrown data capture methods that can be married to Facebook data might help identify the true brand advocates that can serve as an alternative to PR or word or mouth campaigns. Such data sets can help ascertain which engaged visitors have the most reach and effectively drive further engagement of their networked peers; this is where the value of social media is realized.
Measure how social media activity impacts user generated comments and sentiment. Using external social listening tools like Sysomos and Radian6 adds an a layer of consumer insight that can guide campaign strategy and message creation.
It used to be tough for clients and agencies to apply third-party tracking technology to campaigns that would measure the effectiveness of the media. Slogging through those technical challenges paid off handsomely for the early adopters, who pioneered a new way to be accountable. Today’s marketers must effectively prove that the full range of engagement occurring on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, whatever, has a clear impact on driving key business objectives. The number of fans or followers can be a helpful metric, but is secondary to measuring the quality of fan engagement, advocacy and sales.
And there is another basic mindset change that needs to occur. One of the reasons that marketers underestimate the value of social media is that they still view the channel primarily as an advertising platform. Social media ads can be very effective, but they are just the beginning of a conversation with consumers. When you accept the full possibilities of the social media ecosystem, you recognize that the many data capture hurdles that need to be cleared are balanced with limitless opportunities.