The Idea: Online chatter is just one layer in your ROI cake

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Marta Strickland
Marta Strickland

There is a wide variety of complex dashboards listening platforms from companies like Radian6, Nielsen and TNS Cymfony that allow marketers to listen to social media chatter day in and day out. However, you can't just monitor current social media conversations to get an accurate view of your brand's social media buzz. You need a beginning and an end to make a complete story.

Say you are just about to launch a bold new campaign. You have your alerts set up, your analytics dashboard built and ready to go. You watch excitedly as the results start pouring in from Twitter, forums, blogs and news sites around the world. Woohoo!! You're off to a good start. Next week, you come back to your dashboards and there isn't so much as a tweet from your online audience. What happened?

Constructing a Beginning

First, you've got to find a proper starting point to begin your social media metrics. Agencies cannot work in isolation here because they are often not privy to historical data, particularly if they are the first agency you've had handle your brand's social media. Without proper context, "success metrics" are impossible to obtain because it would be impossible to piece together the success story. For example, social media success could have originated from a major PR piece that lead to four blog posts that lead to coupon downloads and foot traffic to the store.  Here's how you get to the beginning of that story:

  • Keep an inclusive calendar of key campaign dates that incorporate all channels. This can include when commercials first aired, important TV buys, PR events, magazines hit shelves and home page takeovers.
  • Create a watch list of influencers that are being reached out to including bloggers and journalists.
  • Create a watch list of unique terms that are associated with key campaign tactics such as TV shows, publications and even taglines.

Constructing an Ending

This is where a great relationship between your community manager and your analytics team is crucial. It is easy to fall into the trap of confusing correlation with causation. It can be difficult to remove that problem completely from your analysis, but here are a few tips on how to set an ending to your social listening measurement story:

  • Use your listening platform to its fullest. Keep a close monitor on sentiment and "intent to buy" or "change in behavior" keywords. That way you can see if the volume of online chatter grew as a result of campaign tactics as well as indications of change in opinion or behavior
  • URL tracking FTW!! Get to love, it is your friend. Certainly make sure your community manager is using it to track clicks and spread content throughout all available social channels. If marketers want to go for the gold, they can make sure influencers and bloggers are tracking their links, too.
  • Consider partnering with a video tracking company such as Visible Measures to see how your videos spread across the social web, and how that tracks back to incoming traffic on your site.

Just like fairy tales, there can be no “happily ever after's” in social media without a “once upon a time.”  Context is king within social media – especially for measurement – so establishing a timeline within campaigns often takes the cause/effect guesswork out of metrics.  This provides a clear view of what marketing tactics are truly working for your campaign and allows marketers to focus on their strengths while hedging areas where their strategy may be weakest.

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