Most marketers deem social media vital to their overall strategy, yet many cannot precisely prove its effectiveness.
Fifty-eight percent of marketers call social media “very important” and 30 percent say it’s “somewhat important,” reveals Buffer’s 2019 State of Social report. Yet nearly 20 percent are unsure how to measure its efficacy. Just under 30 percent call their social media marketing very effective; 43 percent call it somewhat effective.
The CMO Survey, released last August, also revealed difficulty in measuring social media’s impact, although calibration has improved. According to that report:
- Thirty-nine percent of marketing leaders cannot show the impact of social media, down from 45 percent the previous year.
- Thirty-nine percent had a good qualitative sense but no quantitative evidence, up from 36 percent the previous year.
- Twenty-five percent said they can prove the impact of social media quantitatively, up from 16 percent.
Though social media marketing measurement has made progress, there’s quite a lot of room for improvement.
To better measure social media, experts recommend these steps:
Set goals and metrics. Establish specific, measurable goals for social media campaigns, and select relevant metrics. For instance, if you seek to generate new leads, social media posts can include a link to a landing page where visitors complete a form. You can track how many submissions a social media post or network refers, Ashley Ward writes for Search Engine Journal. You can track post clicks and calculate conversions and acquisition rate per lead.
Other possible metrics include reach, engagement rate and share of voice. Follow a few key metrics consistently rather than shifting among a wide array, which hampers analysis and wastes resources.
Set a timeline. Set a realistic timeline for accomplishing top goals. “If the first run-through doesn’t produce the ROI you want, then analyze the metrics you received from that first run-through and notate what worked and fix what didn’t,” Ward says. “Your timeline may have been the cause.”
Select a measurement tool. Most social media channels offer their own native analytics that report basic metrics, but they often lack robust analytics and seem designed to encourage additional use of the platform rather than offer useful data and insights. Devise your own key performance indicators and benchmarks to measure progress over time rather than depending on networks’ native analytics, advises Kate Callan, senior vice president for social media strategy at Tonic Life Communications.
A media monitoring dashboard that integrates all channels saves time, provides real-time access, displays a comprehensive view of performance, and makes it easier to analyze data.
Understand mentions. Not all brand mentions are positive. A social media monitoring service with sentiment analysis can determine whether mentions are positive, negative or neutral, and it can grade mentions for overall sentiment. The best sentiment analysis systems combine automated software analysis with human analysis.
Monitor and report. Use your initial findings to set a baseline for future measurement, and share these early figures with your important stakeholders, recommends Jenn Deering Davis, co-founder of Union Metrics. Key questions include how your numbers compare with what you had expected and how they stack up against your competitors’ or related products and campaigns.
“One of the great parts of social media analytics is that you can easily run reports about your competitors to see how they’re doing,” Davis writes on the Neil Patel blog.
Adjust and repeat. Carefully review the measurement program, Davis adds. How are these metrics doing? Are you missing anything? Was anything superfluous or unnecessary? Figure out what you can improve, make changes, and then measure some more. Re-examine the initial goals to make sure new metrics align with them.
A version of this post first appeared on the Glean.info blog.