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A Social Media Strategy, Part 3: Monitor and Measure

By: Michael Bleau

Sunday, January 01, 2012
 

This month we continue our discussion on implementing a social media marketing (SMM) strategy with a discussion of how to monitor and measure performance to ensure that you’re meeting your strategic goals. Next month we’ll look at implementation.

When you begin to set targets, remember that most social media approaches are tuned to a business-to-consumer (B2C) audience, very different than your business-to-business (B2B) focus. With B2B you’re communicating with individuals who make decisions within a business setting, far different than dealing with consumers. Aside from this critical difference, the steps taken to create an SMM strategy are similar in nature and follow a fundamental marketing process.

Vehicle Selection

When considering metrics, keep in mind the vehicle being used to reach your customers. While Facebook and LinkedIn both are wildly popular social media sites, they are extremely different, with Facebook focused mostly on casual social relationships between individuals and LinkedIn focused on business relationships. Thus, each site offers completely different options for advertising and business promotion; companies must consider how these differences will affect decisions about the metrics used to determine the effectiveness of an SMM strategy.

Shoot for quality not quantity when tracking the number of fans (Facebook), followers (Twitter), group members (LinkedIn) and subscribers (YouTube). Having a large following does not necessarily define success. Work to attract targeted followers by aligning your SMM strategy toward specific, stated business outcomes. Develop and host feeds that speak directly to specific portions of your audience—content aimed at executives, field managers, maintenance professionals, etc. Otherwise, you may end up with a single feed that so broadly covers a mix of topics that you struggle to maintain a quality engagement with any of your target audiences, and an equally difficult time measuring return on investment.

A good resource offering advice on to how best to measure and maximize a SMM’s return on investment is SocialTimes.com. A few of the metrics it recommends:

• Visitors and sources of traffic

• Network size (followers, fans, members)

• Quantity of commentary about brand or product

Additional advanced metrics, which focus on quality of insight gained, include:

Social media leads. Track web traffic from all social media sources, and chart the top few sources over time. If members of your social media networks are sending referrals, consider measuring this data as well.

Membership increase and active network size. This is the portion of your company’s social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube) that actively engages with your social media content (feeds, pages, channels, etc.) Is your collection of members, followers and fans growing, and is there quality interaction with your content?

Activity ratio. Compare the ratio of active members to total members, and chart this over time. Initiate a campaign to increase interaction and measure the resulting data. Activity can be measured in a variety of ways, including use of social applications.

Conversions. You want social network members to convert into subscriptions, sales, Facebook application use, etc.—actions that can directly or indirectly be monetized. Measure and chart these conversions over time.

Brand mentions in social media. Measure and track brand mentions—positive and negative—and their quantities.

Loyalty. Track the interaction among your social members—how often do they share content and links, or mention your brands, for example?

Case Study: Warranty Exposure

To explore how manufacturers can apply a well-developed SMM, let’s take a look at warranty exposure, and assume that you can reduce exposure by educating customers about the proper use of your product. We’ll need a metric that compares warranty costs (per customer) to your social posts.

First, we form a baseline by tracking warranty costs for, say, 6 months. Next we implement an educational series of social media posts that address the top-10 issues that could be avoided if your customers better applied your products. This assumes a sizeable audience already exists—if not, develop additional material to promote your educational posts. This can occur via direct mail, e-mail, press releases and print advertisements.

Last but not least, measure and track how the SMM strategy is impacting warranty costs.

What to Measure?

Defining a set of appropriate metrics isn’t always easy. Consider pulling in a few members from your quality-management team to help develop and apply metrics that will be statistically relevant. They’re used to measuring performance.

Don’t expect quick, overnight viral growth. Instead, look for steady growth and adjust your strategy when noticing a dip or plateau in data flow. The use of complex measurements, such as Multiple Moving Averages (MMAs) used by stock traders, can show short- and long-term trends to provide an overall view of the health of your SMM vehicles of choice.

With all new initiatives comes a learning curve, and finding the sweet spot that serves your audience while meeting your business objectives may take some fine-tuning. MF

 


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