As social media marketers, we live in a world of constant and rapid change. On a daily basis, we are forced to deal with new social channels, new kinds of disparate data, new metrics, and new tools for gathering and using data. Measuring often seems like a moving target.
To keep your focus on data driven marketing (and to avoid losing your sanity), try to stick to some essential best practices for managing social media measurement.
Establish goals and benchmarks for key metrics
Social media metrics are readily available, so you can track just about any data point — but that doesn’t mean you should. Select a set of metrics that you want to follow regularly, then establish goals for these metrics. This will help you keep your focus and cut down on the time required to analyze. For example, the picture below shows some goals that have been set in the Social Snap system for several Facebook and Twitter metrics. Reports show each metric with a goal assigned, the goal amount, the status of the metric in the current 30 day period, and an up or down arrow showing the change in the metric over the past 30 day period. (Here are more examples of some social media metrics you can track in Social Snap.)
How do you determine what your goals should be? It is important to note that there are no industry benchmarks that have been established for what counts as “good”. However, you can (and should) create your own benchmarks. One way to do this is to analyze your competition. What is the size and activity levels of their Facebook page, Twitter, or branded social network? How much positive buzz do they get compared to your brand? (picture here of competitive for PK?)
If competitive benchmarks don’t make sense, focus on establishing relative benchmarks. For example:
- Establish the size of your current active (engaged) Facebook community and set a goal to increase it by 20% over a given time frame.
- Conduct an analysis of the annual value of your social connections (contact us for more information on how to do this) and set a goal to increase that number by 10%.
- Analyze the number of soft conversion goals (ideally, pick a conversion goal that has a good track record of eventually leading to a sale) driven by social media currently; set a goal to increase that number.
Go beyond “engagement”: Focus on progressive levels of interaction
Not all social media interactions are created equally. A like on your Facebook page doesn’t have the same weight as a visit to your website through a link on Twitter. You need to go beyond basic levels of engagement and look at the percentage of people that are taking the next steps.
You can think of it like a ladder with rungs going up to the top. A “like” is on the first rung – its low risk and low engagement. The second and third rungs are more involved – a comment, a retweet, sharing of your posts. A social media contact moves up to the fourth rung when they provide their contact information through a newsletter opt in or other type of registration.
The final rung of the ladder is making a purchase and becoming a brand advocate. The numbers at the top of the rung may be smaller at first, but look for a general trend upward on the fourth and fifth rungs of the ladder.
Don’t rely on a single source of data
Social media isn’t an island – its part of the buying process. You need to track its impact all the way through the sales cycle. This requires combining multiple sources of data — data from twitter, facebook and other social channels, from web analytics, from buzz monitoring tools and from “offline” sources such as CRM systems and offline sales. Integrating many different types of metrics and data sources gives you the best chance to create a compelling picture of the business impact of social media. (Note: Below is an example of a Social Snap custom report including data from several different sources.)
Follow these three best practices and you’ll you’re on your way to understanding your social media marketing impact.
Do you use a best practices approach in your social media analysis? Which factors have been most helpful for you?