Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Impact Of Social Media Is Absolutely Measureable

The Facebook Like button.
You can measure that.  
Photo: Flickr/Sean MacEntee

Somewhere around 2009, a myth took hold that social isn't measureable.

This falsity has rooted itself so firmly in the minds of marketing leaders that almost every social leader at almost every brand deals with "the ROI question" almost every day.

It's time to set the record straight.

The impact - or ROI - of investing in social media can be measured with more precision than almost any other type of media.

The social technology landscape is amazing, and getting better every day.
All of the major social networks - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter - have built sophisticated targeting and measurement capabilities.

As I've noted in earlier posts, you can now put the right message in front of the right person at exactly the right time. And you glean a wealth of data from those engagements.

Social response platforms (SRPs) (full disclosure: I work for Spredfast) can tell you exactly how your social content performs. These tools report back to you not only "impressions" (how many people saw your content), but also "expressions" - a critically important thing to track. Expressions can be a retweet, a comment, a share - anything that requires an effort by the consumer - and are solid markers of true engagement.

That's at least as good as other types of media, and I would argue even better than the results we get from TV, print, or even experiential.

You can track what people do when they engage on social media.
Great content always has a call to action, and great content strategies have no dead ends. Always have a "link back" to another piece of content. This is why great social strategies always include owned media platforms.

Google Analytics and SRPs can then help you trace user paths and track conversions.

Social analytics eliminate the "guess again" factor.
There's an old saying in PR: "if you want to know what people think about your company, read the paper."

The data from social media and social listening paints an accurate portrait of what your audience is interested in talking about with your brand. You just have to listen, and let go of what you want to talk about. I can tell you from my experience at Coca-Cola that this was sometimes the hardest thing for us to do.

Social data - information on high performing, highly engaging content, trends, user responses, etc. - can be fed back into the business to inform messaging frameworks and plans. It is critical that this data be used to create future content. Creative and content can also be A/Z tested on social media to determine the best performing combinations before you go to market.

This not only makes marketing and communications programs smarter, it also has cost avoidance benefits.

Focus on good digital hygiene.
Finally, never leave anything on the table.

Is your content properly tagged?

Have you included "title" and "alt" text descriptions for all photos online? Are all search description fields filled out properly? Are you using keyword research to craft headlines?

Good digital hygiene can have a major impact. For example, at Coke we saw a 100+% traffic increase to owned media from YouTube when we inserted links back to content in YouTube video descriptions.

Build the formula.
All of this data allows you to build an impact model for your business. There is no magic formula. You'll have to do the hard work to build it in partnership with your leadership.

It's critical that your formula allow you to compare the relative performance of different types of content over time.

In the coming years, social media will have a major impact on budgets and careers across the enterprise.

Data beats politics.

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