Social Marketing Metrics Must Fit Your (Real) Business Goals


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Social Marketing is customer-centric marketing. After all, the company is ideally meant to build its brands by first building support and enthusiasm among its customers.

But social media are challenging and humbling. The discussion of how marketers should go about using them is often clouded by vague recommendations, niche anecdotes, and buzzword mania.

The confusion has also impacted marketing analysts. More than ever they are facing questions of what can be measured and how. But very often there is neither a clear business goal nor action plan behind the question.

In order to select meaningful analytics for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and videos, the key (as always) is to start with the business goals that your company is pursuing with each social media marketing effort.

But, as author Jim Novo pointed out, your team must come clean on what these business goals really are.

  • For example, just because you are blasting out messages on Twitter doesn’t mean that you are really doing viral or social marketing. You are just running a reach and direct response campaign much like any other form of spam or PR.
  • In that case you should also measure success with very similar metrics to those used for spam and PR, as Jim pointed out.

While there are wonderful lists of available metrics for social media overall, I didn’t come across a list yet that is grouped by the various business goals that companies may be pursuing with their social media campaigns.

So, therefore, here is the grouped list that I would like to encourage.

Business Goal Description Typical Key Metrics
Brand advertising Even though the biggest opportunity with social media is thought to be in facilitating conversations, it is obvious that many marketers are still approaching social media in a way that is more similar to traditional advertising or PR. Companies doing this should then look at typical advertising metrics to measure and improve success

  • Reach and frequency, e.g. unique users and views of your Facebook application or Twitter followers
  • Engagement, e.g. number of comments or links on a post.
  • Share of voice
  • Quality of the audience that you are reaching, e.g. demographic fit
Direct response advertising Still with traditional marketing methods in mind, marketers often post tweets or blog articles with the goal of triggering a direct response, e.g. a registration to an event or an alert to a current promotion

  • Click-throughs
  • View-throughs
  • Outcomes, e.g. conversions, revenues, ROI.

Viral marketing The opportunity to increase the reach and effectiveness of your marketing messages through viral distribution represents both the most exciting and also the most challenging aspect of social media. The networked nature of social media makes them ideally suited for viral multiplication effects. Companies that know how to facilitate conversations and how to build their brands through the voices of their customers stand to build the best brands.

  • “Virality”, e.g. re-tweets on Twitter, application invitations on Facebook, or pick-up of your marketing messages across the blogosphere
  • Social graph of visitors reached by your effort, e.g. the number of their friend connections
  • Sentiment
  • Context of the conversations

Focus group It is often said that: “On traditional media you can shout but you cannot listen. On social media you cannot shout but you can listen.” Marketers that take this idea to heart may think of social media as a giant focus group that provides a window into the hearts of the market place and customers.

  • Volume of chatter on various topics, marketing messages, ad campaigns, or competitors that relate to the company’s business
  • Sentiment
  • Context of the conversations

Customer service Some social media channels, especially Twitter or blogs, provide the opportunity to respond or comment directly to the individuals that posted an article. This opens up the opportunity to encourage and thank fans while reaching out to help customers that are in need of help or feel disgruntled.

  • Customer cases handled
  • Improvement in customer satisfaction or net promoter score

Social CRM The opportunity to make social marketing personal extends beyond manual customer services. Namely, there is an opportunity for interactive marketing. Social media are part of the interactions and experiences that individuals have with your brand. It is commonly accepted that marketers should listen to their clients so that they can be relevant in their communications instead of interrupting with untargeted messages. As such, individuals’ interactions with your brand on social media represent another great channel for listening to individual customers and taking their interests into account.

  • Topical keywords that relate to an identified individual’s posts on Twitter, blogs, etc.
  • Topical keywords that relate to the posts with hyperlinks to your website from which an individual has clicked through to your site
  • RFR (Recency, Frequency, Reach, i.e. social graph.)

The overview reveals that social media measurement requires combining data from multiple sources:

  1. Typical web analytics metrics such as unique visitors or views, click-throughs, and outcomes such as conversions, revenues, profits.
  2. Data about social media participants such as their demographic profile or number of friend/follower connections. This information would typically be available from the APIs of social media platforms or from social media monitoring solutions
  3. Social media monitoring trends such as the volume of chatter around specified topical keywords as well as sentiment


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