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Media Zone: Are You Really Measuring Your Social Media Performance?

1 Jan, 2014 By: Timothy R. Hawthorne Response

Is your company one of the many that doesn’t tie social media performance directly to business gains?

If there’s one thing about DRTV marketers, they know and understand the value of measurement, metrics and accountability. Born out of the need to keep close track of campaign performance and media spend, this attention to accountability should carry over into the other advertising mechanisms that marketers are employing in this Web 2.0 era. And while DR marketers may indeed be applying their metric-centric approaches to online video, content marketing and social media, the broader population of marketers is not.

According to the 2013 Unisphere Research report Content Marketing Gets Social, while there is clearly recognition that employing social media to amplify content is a key strategy in today’s connected world, few organizations are able to comprehensively gauge the results of their social media efforts. The firm’s research indicates that just 25 percent of companies are measuring the results of their social media content marketing programs down to the individual piece of content.

Calling social media measurement “an underutilized approach across companies of all sizes,” Unisphere Research states that even among respondents who do measure social media performance, measurements aren’t tied directly to business revenue or overall market share. Instead, they’re related to more platform-specific metrics, such as levels of engagement (67 percent of firms count comments or shares), website traffic (62 percent), and “likes” on Facebook or endorsements on LinkedIn (47 percent). Just 42 percent are beginning to tie social media content success directly to business gains using direct responses or downloads, while 31 percent make a connection to sales and revenues.

Kaysha Kalkofen, co-founder of St. Louis-based digital marketing company tSunela, says it’s time for marketers to pay better attention to the tangible results of their social media efforts. Sites like Facebook and Twitter may have — up until recently — been considered a Wild Wild West for companies just dipping their toes into the pool, but the medium has come into its own quickly and now warrants more attention when it comes to measurement and accountability.

Besides, as most DRTV marketers already know, there’s real value in being able to track any type of advertising performance down to the individual click, “like” or sale. “Measurement is important because it provides data about your target audience and the types of information they consume and are interested in about your product or service,” says Kalkofen. “Measurement can show not only what they are searching for, but how they are searching for it.”

Measurement is also the only mechanism marketing professionals have for advocating for their budgets and determining a real return on investment, adds Kalkofen, whose firm uses call tracking to measure the number of responses that marketers receive from their Facebook posts and ads. Recently, she says her team helped a company set up a social media campaign to advertise a series of offline events. Using call and URL tracking, the marketer was able to follow exactly how many event registrations the social media posts and ads generated.

Many companies emphasize the wrong social media metrics, Kalkofen says, noting that metrics from Facebook Insights (such as engagement percentage and other arbitrary statistics) are not as telling as the general public thinks. “The true success of social media can be determined by the engagement that you can see,” she points out, “like reposts, retweets, comments, ‘likes’ on posts and so forth.”

For marketers that want to hone their own social media measurement strategies, Kalkofen says the first step is to use call and URL tracking to keep tabs on the direct hits that are coming in via Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Then, turn to the age-old DRTV motto — “test, test, and test again” — by advertising an event, a special, or a new product launch only online and for a short duration of time. This will allow you to track the response generated by those efforts. “Then,” says Kalkofen, “you will have a true idea of your social media performance.” ■

About the Author: Timothy R. Hawthorne

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