Can you please raise your hand if you have read Katie Paine’s Measuring Public Relationships? Many of you have likely read it, especially if measurement is important to you and your business. Frankly, if it isn’t important to you and your business, you are likely on an island all by yourself.
Research and measurement are the foundation of every communications program. That is a central tenant of Katie’s book, and one that should be burned into your memory.
That Was Then, This Is Now
The world has changed significantly since Katie’s book was released in 2007. Consider for a moment that, in October 2007, Facebook only had 50 million users. Today, Facebook has over 1.1 billion users worldwide. Similarly, Twitter has gone from 400,000 tweets per quarter in 2007 to over 340 million tweets per day toward the end of 2012 . If you looked hard enough you would see similar growth numbers for other platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and others.
The explosive growth of social media has led to transformational developments in customer research. Market researchers and digital analytics professionals alike have access to what is essentially a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year focus group. Every time you tweet, post something on a company’s wall, search for information, upload a video, or access a Wikipedia page, you have created a data point for someone to analyze.
Through the advent of technologies such as Radian6 (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud), Sysomos (now Marketwired), marketers now have the ability to gather massive amounts of data about the brand in near real time. Other tools also have been developed that allow for better online audience segmentation, content analytics, and influencer analysis, but you get the point. There is a lot of data available to marketers, and tools have been developed to help collect and analyze that data.
Unrest and Confusion
What hasn’t changed, unfortunately, since Katie’s book was released is the confusion marketers have around measurement. Katie’s book did an excellent job outlining the fundamentals of measurement, but she could not have anticipated the growth that social media has experienced. That growth has led to tremendous confusion on what to measure, how often to measure it, and how those measurement efforts integrate into the broader measurement program.
There is also unrest among some digital marketing and social media marketing professionals who are being forced into a measurement approach that may not be comfortable because they have waited too long to develop an approach that shows how these channels drive business value. If you are in that position, or even if you have developed a scorecard that the rest of the business believes in, there are probably some metrics that you could include and are not currently.
What are those metrics? Which four are you not measuring—but you should be?
1. Share of Conversation (SOC)
At WCG, this metric is the first one we point to for clients. Most companies focus on share of voice, or the amount of conversation happening online about the brand versus competitors. Share of conversation, on the other hand, measures the amount of conversation happening about the brand versus the broader industry.
Why don’t most brands show this number? The primary reason is that it is typically a small number. Most brands in our experience have less than 5% share of conversation online. It is much sexier to show a number like 60% versus the competitive set (share of voice) than it is 5% against the broader industry. However, after doing several hundred social analytics projects, we know that there is a strong relationship between share of conversation and market share. Does your business want to gain share in its market? The answer is likely going to be “yes” in every case.
2. Leads Generated
This one probably sounds like a no brainer, but you would be surprised how rarely B2B or B2C companies track this metric. Sure, every interaction may not be a generated lead and most of your social analytics tools do not talk to your legacy CRM systems—but why not capture the information anecdotally? Maintaining that kind of effort for a long time is difficult, but soon tools are coming to the market that will help you. In the meantime, use the tracking capabilities within a tool like Radian6 to capture new leads. Even if you show a small number of leads, your boss will appreciate that you tried to show a number important to the business.
3. Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is not the same thing as online sentiment. Yes, if you are a B2C brand or even a larger B2B, you probably care about online sentiment. However, looking at online sentiment as a replacement for customer satisfaction is a mistake. Your offline consumer satisfaction tracking is still the most accurate barometer for how customers feel about the brand. That isn’t to say that online sentiment doesn’t matter. In fact, you should be looking for ways to compare and contrast the data in your offline satisfaction surveys versus what you are seeing online. Until social analytics tools can offer a more accurate gauge of customer sentiment, showing both numbers is the only truly prudent approach.
4. Referral Traffic From Social Media Sites
Assuming that your social media channels are driving customers back to an e-commerce page or some website they can learn more about the product, tracking referral traffic is critical. Google Analytics, Omniture, and every other Web analytics tool on the market makes it very easy to see where traffic is coming from. If you wanted to take it to the next level—and I know that you do—tracking traffic from social sites versus paid media programs is helpful in demonstrating the value of each activity.
In our book, Digital Marketing Analytics, we cover how often you should be measuring, how to develop a best practice scorecard, how to present it to senior leadership, and more. In the meantime, the metrics outlined above should be in every scorecard. If you handle digital marketing or social media for your brand do not wait for someone else to dictate your measurement approach. You are the one sitting on a mountain of customer data. It is high time you become the leader in measurement at your company.