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Measuring Social Media Campaigns

May 15, 2009

Each week, our class is responsible for finding and analyzing an organization that uses social media in a business-context for a campaign or case study. The assignment allows us to understand why the organization chose to participate in social media, whether it was a success or failure, and to provide us with an opportunity to review and critique, identify alternative actions, and recommend future actions. So far, each of the campaigns and case studies I’ve analyzed, have used the same continuous platforms: Blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, YouTubing and RSSing. All of these are terrific platforms to use in order for organizations to meet, engage, communicate and listen to customers. Because social media is a two-way street, it’s important to remember that these platforms need to be measured for the campaign’s overall effectiveness.

Recently, Chris Lake, editor in chief at Econsultancy, explains his top 10 ways to measure the effects of social media campaigns. They are as follows,  

1. Traffic

This includes number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Digg links, Delicious bookmarks, social media site referrals, existing Web site traffic, blogging comments and many more. Lake reminds his readers that quality often beats quantity.

2. Interaction

Customer participation is a valuable indicator for many organizations, publishers and brands. It says something about the kind of traffic your campaign is attracting. This can range from leaving customer reviews, comments and ratings, to participating in support forums. Lake believes that an engaged customer is a highly valuable one, so keep your eyes and ears open!

3. Sales

Lake explains how his company, Econsultancy, is tracking sales from organic Google referrals and also paid search. It didn’t seem like much of a leap to track other channels, such as Twitter. When Dell tried Twitter, they discovered that they made $1m from Twitter in 18 months. Blendtec’s ‘Will It Blend?’ campaign on YouTube helped to drive “a five-fold increase in sales”.

4. Leads

Some companies simply cannot process sales online, because their products or services do not allow for it. For example, the automotive industry, which tends to measure the effects of its online ad campaigns by the amount of brochures requests, or test drives booked in (as opposed to car sales, which is, in marketing terms, an altogether more macro effort). B2B operators are in a similar position. If you are a consultant and spend time interacting on LinkedIn Answers, then there’s a way of tracking that activity to enquiries about your services. The same applies across the spectrum of social media sites.

5. Search marketing

The SEO factor cannot be understated and social media can be far more powerful in this regard. For example, a well-placed story / video / image on a site like Digg will generate a lot of traffic and a nice link from Digg itself, but the real win here is that it will generate a lot more interest beyond Digg. One link and 20,000 referrals from Digg might lead on to 40,000 referrals and 100 links from other sites. With 100 links from other sites, this means that your page might well wind up being placed highly on Google, resulting in lots of ongoing traffic.

6. Brand metrics

Word of mouth and the viral factor (inherent in sites like Twitter, Facebook and Digg) can help shift the key brand metrics, both negatively and positively. These include brand favorability, awareness, recall, propensity to buy, etc. Expensive TV ads are measured in this way, so if these metrics are good enough for TV then they’re surely good enough for the internet? Positive brand associations via social media campaigns can help drive clicks on paid search ads, and responses to other forms of advertising. We know that TV ads boost activity on search engines, resulting in paid search success stories, so I’d bet that social media can do the same.

7. PR

The distinct worlds of PR, customer service, and marketing is fusing. Twitter means everybody has a blog these days, and somewhere to shout about things to their friends (and beyond). Social media sites are the biggest echo chambers in the world! In any event, if you can measure PR then you can measure social media.

8. Customer engagement

Engagement takes place offline and online, both on Web sites and other sites, particularly social media sites. Customer engagement is key to improving satisfaction and loyalty rates, and revenue. By listening to customers, and letting them know that you are listening, you can improve your business, products, and levels of service. Research finds that an engaged customer will recommend your brand, convert more readily and purchase more often.

9. Retention

A positive side effect of increased customer engagement – assuming certain other factors in play work in your favor – is an increase in customer retention. This is going to be a crucial factor in the success of your business in the years to come.

 10. Profits

If you can reduce customer churn, and engage customers more often, the result will surely be that you’ll generate more business from your existing customer base (who in turn will recommend your business to their network of friends, family, and social media contacts). This reduces your reliance on vast customer acquisition budgets to maintain or grow profits. It makes for a far more profitable and more efficient organization. Remember that old adage about it being cheaper to keep existing customers than to seek out new ones.

I found Lake’s Top 10 extremely valuable measurements in order to pinpoint a campaign’s overall effectiveness. After reviewing case studies and campaigns for the last six weeks, I wholeheartedly agree that a numbers-drive approach for organizations is not an accurate measurement of campaign’s effectiveness. Even if some of the social media platforms that these campaigns and case studies use are not measurable, it does not mean it’s useless. If this were true, than many PR professionals would be out of work! If a social media campaign can prove to drive sales, leads, sign-ups, as well as create awareness and conversation, then the campaign should be deemed a success. 

For more information about how to measure social media campaigns and case studies, take a look at the links below.

http://leftthebox.com/archive/social-media-metrics-modeling/#why

http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2008/10/28/what-is-the-roi-for-social-media/

http://www.netstrategies.com/2009-march/chris-lakes-10-ways-to-measure-social-media-success.html

http://social-media-optimization.com/2007/08/measuring-social-media-campaigns-2/

Sylvie Atkins

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