How Can Marketing Get the Measure of Social Media Campaigns?

Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

Your clients are getting lots of heat about social data measurement. Here is some practical advice to put you on the right track.

It’s the knock on the door that haunts every chief marketing officer (CMO). The chief executive officer (CEO) is standing there. He has spotted the company is trending on social media, that a recent campaign in receiving a high volume of ‘likes’, and wants to know what impact it is having on sales leads. “If you could report overnight, that would be great,” the CEO adds as he leaves the room.

Overnight! The CMO doesn’t have the tools to report this in two weeks, let alone a few hours. All that investment being made in social media, and the CMO is not quite certain how to measure it—let alone determine what the return on investment might be. So the next call the CMO makes is to his marketing agency to find an answer.

Sound familiar? Well, according to Duke University’s recent survey of 288 CMOs, just 13 percent of marketers say they can effectively measure social data accurately. Turn that on its head and it means almost 90 percent demonstrate the impact of that social media spend on company performance.

And many CMOs experience that shadow on the CEO standing at the door: according to Duke University, 61 percent of marketers said they feel pressure from CEOs and boards to measure the social data impact. That’s only likely to get worse too, with the report revealing that social media spending is expected to continue its sharp climb, from 10 percent of marketing budgets currently, to 22.4 percent in the next five years.

Make no mistake, marketers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Accurately measuring the billions and billions of social data items and then turning that data overload into useful insights is tough. Really tough.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. Data scientists have created advanced algorithmic tools to help cut through all of that clutter, so marketing agencies can help ease this pain for their clients. The key is to understand just a few critical questions before a) choosing the toolset and b) digging into all of that human generated data on behalf of your client.

So here are some handy tips and techniques to ensure you adopt the right metrics for your client—and help deliver a higher marketing return on investment.

Align the goals with the metrics
At the outset, it’s imperative to identify specific goals for the social campaign and then build metrics aligned with those goals. Let’s assume your client is launching a new brand of dog food. The aim is to build awareness of the brand. In this scenario, the appropriate metric would be engagement. However, if the campaign is geared to making consumers take action and purchase, then sales conversion would be the best metric. One further piece of related advice: validate each metric. Make sure they measure what they are meant to measure.

Dash about to create dashboards
You’re most likely tracking metrics for your clients from multiple sources. A social media dashboard is a valuable way of aggregating all those different sources and displaying a comprehensive view of the brand’s performance. A dashboard saves monitoring time and ensures that marketers have real-time access to how important metrics are trending.

Build the right benchmark
In marketing, you often need to look back to see how far you’ve come. That’s why benchmarking social media campaigns is so important. If you create a database of social media campaigns and their corresponding outcomes, you can help clients develop these benchmarks.

Analytics needs investment
According to the Duke University study, companies under-utilize the marketing analytics that they’ve requested and have available for decision-making. Indeed, they spend only 2.3% of their marketing budgets on measuring ROI. Measuring the impact of social media requires investing in metrics. This investment might include dedicated staff, agency partnerships, tools and technology, models, or customer databases.

Trust the metrics you already use
Almost every week, a dazzling new tool pops up, promising to revolutionize your social media campaign metrics and analytics. Stay true to what you know: use a handful of proven, best practice tracking tools that fit your goals and which meet important validity scenarios. Jumping from one metric to another wastes time, money and resources.

It’s clear that using marketing analytics remains a distinct challenge for companies. Be a smarter agency. Follow these tips and your CMO client will start to welcome the CEO standing at the door—not be afraid of it.

Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

Written by Zuzanna Pasierbinska-Wilson

Zuzanna is SVP, Marketing at DataSift. You can follow her @fattypontoonski.

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