According to a study by comScore1 in 2011, about 82% of the world’s online population uses social media making it “the place-to-be” for brands and marketers. Social media has transformed the way brands do business. “Audience engagement” is the new buzz word among marketers and the core of social media programs. As social media platforms evolve, brands are trying to extract new values from social media, creating unique brand experiences to meet their marketing objectives. They push the boundaries in audience engagement but with uncertainties about its success.
The success or failure of audience engagement can be measured using metrics derived from the social media platform. However, there are no measurement standards or calculations available. Each platform has a varied set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that need to be analysed and interpreted to provide deep insights into the brand’s performance and effectiveness on social media.
Measuring the effectiveness is very crucial to brands. It helps in understanding customers and strengthening relationships to build stronger brands and ensure tangible returns on social investments.
Challenges in measuring the effectiveness of social media
Some of the common challenges faced by brands while measuring their effectiveness on social media are:
- Scattered social presence: Brands pick from the list of famous social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn etc. By doing so, they move away from their target audience and marketing objectives. This fragmentation adds complexity and layers to measurement
- Social Analytics: Social media metrics differ from platform to platform. Formulating a generic algorithm to measure effectiveness from the varied set of KPIs can be complex
- Large volumes of data: Brand related data extracted from social media can be very large, making it cumbersome to analyse
- Lack of tools: A wide variety of tools are available in the market today to provide specific analysis/set of analysis. Important granular information might get lost within tool algorithms. Also, these tools are very expensive for continuous usage
- Specialized processes and skills: Drawing insights from data accumulated from social media is a specialization in itself – with highly experienced and skilled resources and planned workflows. Setting up such functions within the brand takes a lot of interest and special efforts by the brand
- Relation to marketing objectives: Brands find it difficult to directly relate social media metrics to marketing objectives. The metrics require additional levels of analysis and mapping to propose an effective conclusion
How to measure the effectiveness?
Measuring the effectiveness of social media isn’t easy. It requires a careful analysis of conversations, engagement and their outcomes. At a high-level, the following aspects provide useful metrics that can help to calculate social media effectiveness:
- Alignment of social activity with marketing objectives: Direct or indirect relationships need to be built between each social activity and marketing objectives – brand awareness, loyalty, brand affinity etc. The actual outcome of social activity and sentiment that it generates to fulfil each marketing objective needs to be gauged.
- Alignment of social metrics with marketing ROI: All activity on social platforms has metrics attached to it. Likes, clicks, comments, shares, tweets, re-tweets etc. are very useful in knowing if the social activity is successful or not. These metrics needs to be aligned with the actual marketing ROI – short term and long term. Co-relation of this data is a very useful in measuring the effectiveness, especially for social campaigns
- Touch-rate and customer satisfaction: Customer is king and each satisfied customer is an immediate return on investment and a prospect for new opportunities.
- Effect from media mix: Integrated marketing efforts that mix traditional media with social media have a better reach and resonance. Data relevant to other media becomes an important source for co-relation and analysis.
It takes a very deep understanding of social media and the right strategy to be effective. Each social media platform has its advantages and disadvantages that brands need to understand and build around to utilize its full potential. The best way forward would be to combine intelligence with engagement to market, support and measure brand activities at each step and build a perfect social synergy to co-exist, collaborate and co-create.