Social media is changing not only how brands and publishers market to consumers, but it is also changing the way that they operate altogether. This is the fifth article of an eight-part series dubbed “The Social Operating System,” which explores how advertisers, agencies and publishers are leveraging social media to build audience and engagement. The series is made possible through the sponsorship of Vitrue, a provider of social media management services.
As much as social media has become an expected part of all business plans and marketing strategies, measuring ROI on social efforts continues to be a muddy area. And with new social platforms and their associated ad products cropping up all of the time, the issue of social ROI is only going to get muddier.
“Brands need to be able to define the lifetime value of their communities, and they must have a deep understanding of who their community members are in order to convert those users into customers,” said Laura O’Shaughnessy, CEO of SocialCode.
Analytics are the key to unlocking the full potential of social, as in pushing the vagueness of likes and followers and fans out of the forefront of the discussion and making hard numbers and data the focus. The first thing brands need to analyze from the get-go is what fan base they have. Second is analyzing how connected those people are in their networks. So if they share, how many will see it? Based on this, brands can actually predict how many people will notice their marketing messages, gain a positive perception of the brand and actually purchase. All of this is driven by real empirical analysis, according to Rex Briggs, CEO of Marketing Evolution and co-author of the marketing book “What Sticks.”
“A lot of people are coming up with things that they can measure, but there is a difference between things that you can measure and measurements that matter,” Briggs said.
With the recent controversy around GM pulling its Facebook ads and reports of Twitter’s growing ad business, it is clear that figuring out what to measure and how to measure it when it comes to social strategies is only becoming more important and more complex. Twitter’s own analytics are limited to basic clicks and shares. On Facebook, the analytics are also limited in functionality, and they have too much raw data. Industry members have complained that Facebook’s analytics don’t have enough graphs and insight. To address the limitations, agencies, vendors and tech companies are coming up with all kinds of new social analytics tools.
For example, on Monday, video ad platform Sharethrough announced the launch of its new analytics product for paid Twitter video promotions. The analytics product is meant to help brands figure out if and who is watching their video content as a result of a promoted tweet. Social ad agency Socialcode also announced the launch of a new analytics service on Monday called “Community Optimization.” The service is meant to give marketers detailed psychographic profiles of social communities on Facebook and providing data on what kind of messages fans and followers best respond to. Webtrends is another company that provides social analytics.
But before brands and marketers decide how to measure their social media ROI and what tools to use to measure it, they have to figure out what they want out of their social media efforts and what the success of those efforts would look like.
“The best form of metrics for social media tie into well-understood marketing objectives, rather than invent new ones,” said Vijay Sundaram, CMO of SocialTwist, a social referral marketing platform. “Any social media strategy must tie into driving these desired outcomes and provide a way to measure them consistently across any social engagement.”