Bringing Accountability to Social Media Participation
Social media took Internet marketers by surprise. The channel
presents immense opportunities and significant challenges — something
that remains difficult to master for many, particularly as it relates to
performance and the bottom line of businesses on the Web.
Conditioned to understand performance in very specific
ways, social media changed the analytics paradigm. The
measure of success has changed from established metrics
like “conversion rate” (in all its various forms) to far more
ephemeral indicators of performance. We’ve added “followers,”
“likes,” “retweets” and “impressions” to our language,
and the result has been a loss of focus on what is truly important
to the success of an organization — profit. It’s time
to bring some accountability to social media participation.
Issues with Social Media
One of the major concerns is that Web businesses have
only had a compartmentalized view of their social media
marketing campaigns. They have no understanding of how
something such as the rate of posting on Facebook might
influence frequency of purchases by first-time visitors or
the most loyal of customers. Or how retweets by an influential
blogger might spur membership.
Today, more than ever, it is essential to have an integrated
view of how customers are engaging in today’s active
but rather fragmented multi-channel social media
environment. Website Magazine has covered several premier
social media monitoring and management tools (see Social Media Dashboards in WM’s October 2011 issue) and these
solutions do well to help marketers monitor and manage
social media participation. Where they often fall short is in
their failure to provide insights about what works as it relates
Information management software company Endeca
released results of its 2011 E-Commerce Analytics Survey
recently and found that 61 percent of respondents admit
they are currently making decisions based on half or less
than half of data available to them. To make matters worse,
nearly half of the survey respondents reported that they
were using multiple tools (at least three ore more) to support
business intelligence (BI) decisions. This, perhaps
more than any other recent data, indicates there is a substantial
need for information to be extracted from the disparate
silos (from any marketing channel — performancebased
advertising or social) and streamlined into a unified
and simple-to-understand view.
If you’re not on top of your game when it comes to your
enterprise’s specific social media participation goals, you’ll
be lost in a sea of competitors all clamoring for attention
and loyalty from the same audience — and have nothing
to show for it.
What should you be tracking, monitoring and analyzing?
In short, how common indicators of social media
performance influence conversions on the website.
It is important to understand these metrics so
you can indicate if social media participation (and
what type of participation) results in profit. How do
you do that?
Is the aim to increase distribution? Track fans and
followers, along with the number of mentions and
number of social bookmarks. Is “interaction” the objective?
Track the number of retweets, comments,
likes, and shares. Are you looking to build influence?
Monitor your share of the conversation versus that of
Let’s look more closely at the core social media
metrics to be tracked.
Community Growth and the Sales Impact
While highly active and influential social community
members can outperform thousands of inactive members
when it comes to distributing messages in some
instances, the size of community does matter — if
only as an indicator to prospective followers. But we’re
not just building a community on Facebook or Twitter
— we’re trying to turn a profit. Ultimately, what
should be tracked alongside a social media following
is how it corresponds to the number of sales or leads
occurring on your website. Having a ballooning social
media community but flat-line sales means more
needs to be done to drive visitors to the website.
User Activity & Membership
Growth of a social media community is important,
but nothing says social media dominance like a corresponding
increase in registrations on your own
websites. From likes and comments on Facebook to
retweets and direct messages on Twitter, a high level
of user activity on your website indicates not only a
capacity to engage your audience off the site, but also
converts users on a destination you have full control
over — your website.
General Sentiment & Loyalty
Perhaps the most difficult metric to measure (if it is a
metric at all) is that of sentiment — the tone of the
mention — i.e. is the comment positive, negative or
neutral. Those responsible for social media tracking
and analytics find sentiment analysis useful, particularly
when applied to customer service. For example,
if you know with precision how many negative comments
were responded to on Twitter and see a measurable
reduction in phone-support costs, social media
participation has provided some valuable benefits.
Don’t let social media ruin your Web presence.
While time is the primary investment you will make
as it relates to social media success, bring in some accountability
to participation by aligning that with the
greater objective — revenue.