Finally, Put Social Media Metrics to Use

These days there’s certainly no shortage of data—or metrics for that matter. In fact, if you’re not careful, you can end up drowning in a sea of vanity metrics.

Recently, I had a chance to chat with John Donnelly III who’s the SVP of sales and marketing at social media analytics company Crimson Hexagon. Donnelly insists that marketers should go beyond the metrics and actually use insights from current—and even historical—social data. He says that using those insights from social media can help companies predict purchase intent and craft relevant, impactful campaigns.

Direct Marketing News: In general, how important are metrics?

JD: Metrics are critical. In addition to letting brands measure the success of campaigns, metrics can uncover deeper insights about audiences that can then be used to shape future campaigns. Of course, the key for any marketer is to ensure that you’re tracking the metrics that actually matter.

How important are the metrics that we glean from social media?

Social media metrics are huge—and not just for measuring social campaigns. Social metrics can help brands determine the success of TV commercials, billboards, experiential ads, YouTube videos—you name it. Social is where consumers go to discuss their opinions on just about everything, so it’s critical for brands to pay attention.

What are the social metrics that marketers should focus on most?

It really depends on the goals of your campaign, but broadly speaking, marketers have an opportunity to focus more on who is reacting to their campaigns and how that audience is reacting. Rather than just count retweets or the number of times a hashtag was used, brands should look more closely at the qualitative insights behind those numbers. In other words, what opinions are consumers expressing when they’re using a hashtag? How can that data help you improve or adjust the campaign going forward?

What makes a particular metric important?

Metrics are important when they’re tied to a specific goal or can reveal insights that help you achieve your goals. If your goal is lead generation, tracking social referrals to your website is a whole lot more important than counting retweets. In that scenario, you should also be sure to evaluate which posts lead your audience to click a link and which fell short since this will help you inform social messaging in the future.

What unique insights do social media metrics provide that other channels don’t?

Social metrics are unique because they help you answer the why. When you have the right tools, you can really dig down and access the conversational data that helps you understand why an audience clicked a link, what they care about and who influences them. It’s even better than a focus group because you can tap into the conversations your consumers are already having, leading to more organic insights.

Is there ever a time when social media metrics are not the best indicator of success, change, or trends?

The fact is that social touches almost every aspect of the marketing operations. Social can always give you a deeper understanding of success, even when it’s not the most direct measure. Imagine you’re a TV network exec; while the ratings of your show are the most direct indicator of success, social still plays in role in helping you assess the traction of and insights behind those ratings.

What impact on measuring does (or should) social media metrics have on marketing campaigns?

Social media metrics can tell you a lot about your marketing campaigns, no matter what channel that campaign is on. It’s the reason why you see so many hashtags in TV commercials. Regardless of the campaign you’re running, remember to take social metrics into account—the insights can tell you a lot about how consumers perceive your campaigns. If the reaction on social is negative, you have the opportunity to pivot, quickly.

Are social media metrics the measurement of the future?

Absolutely. That’s not to say other metrics are going away, but any brand that wants to maintain a competitive advantage must pay attention to how consumers are reacting to their brand and products on social.

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