Dos and don'ts: Measuring social media

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Social media marketing fully emerged in 2008 as a “buzz” channel in marketing. Marketers have worked tirelessly to find the best ways to reach consumers while they interact with each other on myriad social networks, blogs and other online forums. To that end, companies create Facebook apps and desktop widgets, and build MySpace pages or branded communities on their own Web sites. However, for marketers, measuring the effectiveness of these social initiatives is imperative so that executives understand why their marketing dollars are spent in the emerging channel. Below, two experts discuss how marketers should and shouldn't go about measuring their social media efforts.

Todd Tweedy
CEO, Audience Machine Inc.

DO: Establish channel effectiveness monitoring

Social media effectiveness is a function of generating product, service or brand advocacy and amplifying the ability of individuals and communities to share their recommendations. Ideally, your monitoring will measure business results — revenue generation or subscription growth — while assessing what campaigns, content, communities and incentives contributed to those results. Start by benchmarking referral sources and using Web analytics services and data to assess the aggregated volume of new traffic from various social channels — such as bookmarking, video, image, groups, independent blogs or social networks — as well as search phrases people are using to find your products, services and brands. Then, use these data to inform and upgrade how your organization goes “social,” so that you match the right content to the right audiences with an eye toward assessing how interest, not acquaintance, drives connections and conversations.

DON'T: Forget to engage your audience and expand your sample

Social networking lets advertisers eliminate the two degrees of separation between them and an audience. Don't miss the opportunity to engage the new audience you've work so hard to attract. Create a tactical marketing model and leverage your eCRM platform to keep the dialog going. And, as dialogs migrate across new niche networks, it is critical to expand your monitoring to include more sampling sources — so don't overlook message board or online group monitoring, and use services like Board Reader to help you gain a comprehensive view of campaign response. Social response can transform search engine results pages, so don't forget to assess the type and number of social content pages that are now showing up in keyword searches that are important to your business.

Chris Cunningham
Founder and CEO, Appssavvy

DO: Think about metrics outside of online's norm

I'm very bullish on the standardization of consistent metrics and measurement of social networking channels in the New Year and beyond. The creation of the Social Media Advertising Consortium is an excellent development in the space. I'm most optimistic about metrics outside of click-through rate. As it relates to social media success, the entire ecosystem of publishers, developers, advertisers and agencies need to get past this and onto more relevant metrics, such as time spent, usage and even utility and virality. Social media marketing isn't about just another online campaign, it is about engaging end users in relevant, integrated fashions that provide utility and/or community features.

DON'T: Consider social media as a whole new opportunity

Don't entirely scrap those traditional online campaigns when it comes to social media. There is relevance in some display placements. However, outside of those efforts, think about engaging through utility, entertainment and community. These marketing features will spawn new metrics that will demonstrate the success of your campaign. For example, integrate yourself into the experience – again, relevantly. Depending on the effort — which is well worth it considering the massive audience at Facebook, for example — the extra mile will pay off in spades. Take for example, Sobieski Vodka's integration into the social media application SocialCalendar. In addition to running a traditional online marketing campaign, Sobieski integrated a martini glass icon, among other elements, into the application. The martini glass icon was one of the most used icons during the holiday season as it relates to invitations sent out by social media end users. Now, that's a metric demonstrating success of a campaign.

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