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Measuring Your Social Media Efforts

You want to publicize your product, you advertise it on TV, you put up radio ads and billboards. How do you measure their effectiveness? There have been reams written on the subject and most of it, understandably so, doesn’t have very conclusive pointers – especially in assigning credit or otherwise of any change in target numbers to a particular marketing medium.

In contrast, quite a lot of your social media efforts can be measured pretty accurately. In fact, you are likely to have enough data to analyse it in depth and draw conclusive inferences. There in lies the problem too. The data, its correlations and regressions can be in such huge quantities that it can be an overwhelming task to get any good quality conclusions out of it.

Customize, customize, customize – targets and conclusions
So, what do you do when you have too much information? You try to sift out extraneous information. You bring in focus on what you wanted to achieve in the first place. The work starts when you started designing your social media campaign.

You might start out being on ALL the social media platforms. Some of it might be inevitable too. For example, “How can you NOT be on Facebook?” So, whether or not your aim is to have many “likes” on Facebook, you have to be there.

Now any platform worth its salt is going to give you access to the analytics of how your use of the platform is being used by your viewers/followers. Which also means, you are going to get information on “likes” whether you want it or not.

It is your job then, to not let that information distract you from what your aim is. For example, if your aim is to engage your audience, page views is not going to tell you much. On the other hand, how long the viewer stayed on the page might be insightful.

So, it is very important for you to have a clearly defined targets for your social media activities. At the same time, what your target is will completely depend on what your product is, which industry it belongs to, and so on. Which is why this article doesn’t give you a list of metrics to measure. You might have multiple targets, but you need to know them at the outset.

Be very wary of anyone who gives you a cookie-cutter answer to effective ways to measure your social media efforts. The field play is so dynamic and there is so much growth that it is devious to say you can measure “such and such” and you are set. Analysing your efforts is not a “plug-n-play” deal.

Collect, centralize and cross-reference.
Having said that, don’t say no to information. Collect all data you can get your hands on. It is easier to throw out irrelevant data when you have lots of it. If you don’t have any to start with, you might not know what you are missing out on.

Once you have all the data, tabulate it all in one place. Some times, patterns emerge when none are expected. In fact, it would be a good idea to keep an eye out for such correlations. Though all correlations are not “cause and effect”, the ones that make sense, could just be.

RoI is not the be all and end all
Trying to find out whether or not our tweet resulted in a sale seems and is a little bit of a stretch. Even if you have isolated your tweet such that you can arrive at a conclusion about its impact, you can never measure if the customer was going to buy the product anyway, irrespective of your tweet. On the flip side, a false negative could result from the customer going to your website directly after reading your tweet rather than clicking the link in your tweet, throwing your metrics for a toss. Sure, even so, there is value to measuring the measurement. But, you have to be aware of the pitfalls.

Not to mention, there are a lot of intangibles that might get left out while calculating something as numeric as RoI. For example, do the costs you use to calculate your RoI include only the money spent on placing the ad or promoted update? Do the costs include –

  • The cost of time spent on creating the campaign.
  • The cost of creating the creative – the image, the captions, etc
  • The cost of time you spend on social media listening and engaging in conversations with others
  • The cost saving on say fewer customer support calls.
  • The goodwill you earn by solving more complex problems because of the time freed up by the above to solve simpler issues?

The biggest loophole of them all, is you are never going to be able to run a completely isolated campaign, unless you are doing specifically for research purposes. The opportunity cost of not running the campaign across all platforms is usually high.

Social Media is dynamic and so are the measuring techniques.
A parameter that might have been perfectly indicative of your target’s effectiveness, might be rendered ineffective with advent of a new parameter. “Out of sight, cannot become out of mind”. The market is growing, the social media platforms are increasing, new parameters are born every day. Of course, you don’t want everything that is out there, but keep your eyes and ears open.

That is the gist of it all, your senses and your mind need to be vigilant and aware – to the old and the new. To the known and the possibility that the unknown might have.

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