Measuring social media

By far the biggest challenge for most brands and marketers is “what exactly is social media doing for our brand & business objectives ?”   Executives want clear examples of ROI not vanity metrics such as the number of people who “Like” our brand or follow our brand via a Twitter feed.   Here are some ways to measure social media with results that matter.

1ne: Ensure that you hire an eMarketing person who knows and understands marketing as well as how consumers are using the Internet. He/she should also be part geek and an information collector so that they can stay on top of trends in new media and marketing and separate the hype from the reality.  They need an in-depth understanding of how consumers go through the decision process to purchase your brand and the key triggers that lead to conversion.

2wo: Make sure that you have an excellent relationship with your IT people.  IT people tend to talk Latin to marketing while marketing people tend to talk Russian to IT people.  You should meet with key IT people at least quarterly to discuss what you’re trying to do, why it’s important to your business and what your customers are doing.  In short you want to get them to think like marketing people not engineers so that they can start coming to you with solutions instead of processes.

3hree: Hire someone who can take all the data you have on your customers and via online marketing and turn it into a simple to understand dashboard with actionable recommendations.  They need to add the “human element” to social media analytics to inform and educate management what people are saying about the brand and how they feel about the brand, product category and competitors.

4our: Fund and hire a web analytics person/department.  Data is gold to marketers but having someone who can set up the correct reports and track social media into conversion is platinum.

5ive: You should be tracking, at a minimum, where people are going on your website if they come over from social media.  You should also be using the new Facebook and Twitter analytics to try to understand the key conversational hooks. This alone could be a full-time job if social media is an important conversion point.  Again, this person should be able to take this data and tell you what it means and how you can leverage it to become a better online integrated brand.

6ix: You should NEVER, I say again, NEVER present social media as  its own marketing entity with metrics.  Rather the social media metrics should be part of your overall online marketing to paint a complete picture of how your online marketing is driving brand/business objectives.

7even: Don’t over promise when it comes to social media.  You’re eventually going to get the email or call that asks “what is it doing for sales”.  Social media is part of a total approach to how you think about your brand in relationship to how consumers think and want to interact with your brand.  I would argue, for example, that a brand like Vizio needs to have a social media presence to help its customers with issues regarding their flat panel HD TV’s.  In this way they can both reduce the costs of customer service and get people to stay with the brand.  Compare that to a social media site for Ritz crackers.  Do people really want to have a social media relationship with Ritz crackers and if their social media page disappeared tomorrow would it really impact sales of Ritz crackers ?

When selling social media marketing to senior executives you are going to be asked about ROI to be sure.  Your answer should be that social media paints a picture of your brand to customers and consumers and is a small part of your brands marketing experience for consumers.  Taken alone it may not work wonders but taken together with everything you do, including on and offline marketing, it maybe an essential part of a sound integrated marketing program.

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