Social media measurement

By James Lowry and Christy Correll | July 10, 2012

Marketers have been doing what we now call “social media” for a long time: communicating with people through media and social interactions. The term social media, though, specifically refers to interacting with people on the Internet, while traditional marketing happens offline.

In the past, the “social” part of interacting with our customers was limited and had to be focused on the specific targets. A top customer that gave you a large amount of your revenue would get a face to face visit.  You would eat a meal with them and get to know them. If it was your top customer, but they did not give you quite that much work, then you would call them. For prospects, you would shake their hand at a conference and talk.

The nice part about the social interaction was that with prospecting events like tradeshows we used printed media to initiate the contact.  You might send out a mailing using post cards or a mailing with “tickets” inside to encourage people to stop by your booth. Better yet, we would incent them to stop with slogans like, “Stop and see us at our booth and have the chance to win.”  We would also place ads in trade magazines before the show. 

As always, no matter what marketing techniques you use, you need metrics to determine the success of the approach. This was true before, when we used media to encourage someone to interact with us at a tradeshow or to call us.

The marketing funnel that we used then still applies today with today’s social media. For example, if we knew there were going to be 10,000 participants at a show, we would hope to get 250 contacts.  Out of those 250 we would hope to quote 125 of them in the next month. Out of those 125 quotes we would hope for 50 orders using the promotion we included in the tradeshow hand outs.(Of course this was a printed piece as well.) We would also keep track to see how much work we received from new customers made at the show over the next 6-12 months.
Was the investment of time, money and effort worth it? This was what mattered most then, and it still applies today to all of our marketing efforts.

Now Christy is going to talk about various approaches and metrics that can be used to answer this question when using today’s online social media outlets for business.

James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing.

In the age of social media, marketers have unprecedented opportunities to interact with people and distribute media thanks to widespread adoption of the Internet. For instance, it is possible for one of your customers to share a story you post on your branded Facebook page with 500 of their closest “friends” in under a minute.

For most business-to-consumer brands, establishing a social media presence is a no-brainer. Customers expect it. If they can’t find you on one of the top social networking sites – or on a niche site where most of your competitors are – this raises eyebrows.

The real question isn’t whether or not you should be using social media to grow your business. It’s how do you determine if your social media activities are effective? To answer this, you first need to determine your objective. Let’s say your objective is to build a better brand through social media. While there are about as many ways to assess this as there are Facebook users, one of the most common approaches is to track these four sets of metrics over time for each social media network your business engages with: Brand Exposure, Brand Engagement, Brand Influence and Brand Action.

If you are new to the world of social media, start with Brand Exposure and eventually work your way up to Brand Action, the most challenging (and sometimes impossible) set of social media metrics to track. Also note that you should only track what makes sense to you, and that some metrics fall under more than one category.

Brand Exposure is the number of followers/subscribers/likes, content views and brand mentions. Brand Engagement is the number of comments/conversations, shares, retweets and posts/tweets/pins others make that mention your brand. Brand Influence is the positive, negative or neutral RTs, posts, shares, and also the number of followers/subscribers that are recommending your brand. And Brand Action is the number of conversions - this can be anything from an online order that can be traced back to your social media feed/site/page to a contact form filled out on your blog or Facebook page.

I’d love to hear what metrics you are using to track your own social media marketing activities, and what lessons you’ve learned about using social media for business. Email me – or  Tweet or Facebook me if that’s your preference. Until then, I leave you with this thought from a man known for being pretty darn good at measuring things:

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. – Einstein

Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.