Follow the sound of my voice…. You are feeling sleepy….very, very sleepy….
Ever feel like you’re following the commands of a hypnotist by starting your social media campaigns? You know you want to be part of it, but you have no clue why.
Join the crowd. Many small business owners and marketers alike have no real idea what to expect from their social campaigns, but they faithfully have presence in every channel in order to take advantage of the social wave. So, how would you know how to start measuring its success?
Most social media experts will talk about three basic metrics when it comes to understanding if you’re social campaigns are helping your brand: reach, engagement and sentiment. These three, across all mediums, can provide feedback on how your social campaign is affecting your brand. Looking at them on a per channel, or per initiative basis, can help you evaluate the contribution of such. But first lets start with a brief overview of each metric.
Reach is one of the social metrics that drives the constant need to get more fans, more followers. ‘Reach’ is the number of direct and indirect connections that your campaign is affecting. That means the total number of fans or followers connected to your page as well as the number of people that have been exposed to your message through your direct fans or followers.
Why does ‘reach’ matter? Well, the success of your social media campaign depends on how effectively you can get your message out there and influence people. Therefore the success of your social campaign depends on your ability to expand your reach.
There are a few components of measuring your social ‘reach.’ The most straightforward part is the number of fans or followers you have. However, it doesn’t stop there and it gets a bit complex when considering different channels. Let’s take an example that most of you likely have experience with: Facebook.
In the Facebook example, your reach would equal 600. How the heck did we get that? Well, your direct audience is 100. You had 5 ‘reactions’ to your message by way of commenting and ‘likes.’ Each of those that ‘reacted’ had 100 friends of their own, which would mean that your message was exposed to 500 more contacts on Facebook.
The obvious comment to this formula is: “How can you be sure these people even saw the message and can therefore be counted?” Well, you can’t….really… So if you want to be a purist about this metric, stick to your direct audience as a measurement of the ability to distribute your message. Most marketers, however, like to consider the ‘potential’ of their message impact as well.
If social media was all about reading, they would have stuck with online magazines. Social media is all about getting your connections to react to your content, spread the word and interact (or engage) with your brand. This metric is one of the most important in the list as it measures if your content is audience-appropriate and therefore creating the intended response.
Now, considering what you now know about reach your engagement isn’t just how many times your direct contacts interact with your message. It’s also how many times the contacts of your contacts interact with your message. Let’s take another example that you may be familiar with: Twitter.
For the update you posted in the above example, your engagement was lucky number 13. Yep, that simple, it’s the sum of all actions. How does this tell you if your campaign is successful or not? Well, it does tell you which messages get the most engagement, therefore what your audience is looking for. It also will tell you how engaged your audience is with your brand overall.
Engagement is typically expressed as a ratio such as 1:1 within a particular time period. This means you have had 1 action from each contact. If you had a ratio of 3:1, it would mean you’ve had an average of 3 actions from each contact.
Although engagement is fairly top-level, it does have a few other layers that have an implication of your brand. One such layer is called ‘influence,’ which is simply your ability to influence your connections with your messages – how likely are your messages to be passed on or promoted. This measurement is much more complex in measurement so we’ll skip over this for now (I’ll give you some more snooz-material later on this metric).
Sentiment is one of the most recent on the scene and is the measurement of the relative positive/negative feelings about your message and/or brand. This is typically measured as a ratio of positive items to negative items to create an overall idea of whether there is an average positive or negative feeling about a concept or brand.
How in the heck can a computer decide if someone has a negative or positive feeling about something? Well, it’s not a perfect science but essentially it uses a program called ‘natural language processing’ that looks for words or phrases, which are deemed positive or negative. It assigns each piece of communication regarding that concept or brand a score based on how many instances of positive or negative language there are in the item.
Because of the vagueness of this measurement, it is typically cautioned that this metric should be viewed as a trend mostly. This metric is fairly controversial, though, since of the inadequacy of the way that the scores are assigned. However, everyone at linkup still thinks this can be effective for small businesses since there is only a few items that will pop-up about their brand, therefore you have the capacity to review each item mentioned. When you get into more mentions, you will get to the same issue plaguing most social marketers – too much to review, not a good enough method to trust.
Watch this space, though, as sentiment will continue to influence social decision making and it will only increase in accuracy.
The forgotten metric: Referrals/Leads/Sales
Many business owners, managers or even marketers may be scratching their heads about now and wondering what the heck happened to tracking leads or sales as an indicator as what’s contributing to the bottom line. So far, it sounds like a lot of hocus pocus, touchy-feely stuff.
Well, this is a lot of what you might call lead nurturing. In this day and age with desensitized consumers, you have to nurture your contacts towards converting them to leads and then sales.
That doesn’t mean that you should track social media as a direct influencer on the bottom line. The most common way to do this is by tracking referrals to your website from social channels and then following these referrals through your website funnel. This is assuming that most of the ‘selling’ is done on the website and not the social channels. You can easily track this with the use of analytics tools including Google Analytics.
Social media measurement is essential in not only understanding if your marketing efforts are worthwhile, but also which messages are resonating through the channel and what channels are most effective! With all of the information available with online channels, there is no excuse for operating in darkness. So, put away the stopwatch and take control of your social campaigns. By focusing on the items listed above – reach, engagement and referrals – you can get a solid understanding of where your social campaigns are taking you. And save the hypnosis for kicking the habit!