Everywhere you turn, everyone from well-established brands to scrappy startups and the local corner store are launching social marketing campaigns. With all this emphasis on social media, the key question is, do marketers really understand which campaigns are working, which ones aren't and how to identify areas for improvement?

Data Overload

There are a lot of numbers generated in a social marketing campaign. Someone Retweets you -- that’s a metric. Someone spends 45 seconds on your website before leaving -- that’s a metric.

These metrics are helpful, but are thin in terms of what actually happened in the campaign. The problem is that these metrics are not linked with marketing strategies.

The metrics you are after go beyond single figures as they are part of a much bigger strategy. Metrics tell you what is and isn’t working. The right metrics are good for monitoring and benchmarking performance, and they’re often used to signal corrective action.

Social marketing campaigns create a lot of data, but it can be manageable, valuable, useful and actionable. That’s a lot of adjectives, but we are here to tell you that you can actually derive real value from social metrics.

The Role Metrics Should Play in Social Marketing Campaigns

There are three pillars that tie social media together and provide the foundation for successful campaigns -- Community Building, Social Marketing Campaigns and Listening and Engaging. These pillars are the foundation for the campaign, and your metric measurement plans.

How did the campaign perform across all three pillars? Metrics that answer this question are what you’re after. It’s through these three pillars that you will uncover the causal effect of social media occurrences that drive conversions. This is where metrics and strategy start working together.

Number One -- Community Building

Community Building is the first of the three pillars to be embraced because it’s where it all begins and what makes the subsequent parts of social marketing success possible. Community Building posts are published to deliver value to your social followers. These posts often have little or nothing to do with your business operations but engage, educate or entertain.

Showing how to solve problems is an example of providing information related to your business, while curating high quality articles offers value that may not have anything to do with your business. Encouraging individuals to follow you by publishing great content is a key ingredient for community building.

Metrics: Audience Size and Engagement

These metrics are identified by tracking the change in social followers, and the amount of social interaction that occurs with posts. Hopefully, you’ll see a lift in both, meaning your community is engaging and growing. If not, you’ve got more community building to do!

Number Two -- Social Marketing Campaigns

Businesses put a lot of effort into listening, engagement and community building. Those actions are awesome, but sadly they’re not the ones that make money. So in return for the community management and goodwill work you do, once in a while you get to market to these social properties - great! Enter social marketing campaigns.

Because of the hard work you've done to build a valuable community that pays attention to your posts, you want to offer something of value to them. Options could include a product to purchase, information about something that interests them, a white paper to download or a Webinar that provides insight. The offers promoted in your campaigns should link to a landing page. This is how valuable social marketing campaign metrics are captured.

Metrics: Clicks, conversions and sales. Broken down by property. In real-time

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It’s really that simple. From social marketing campaigns, the most important metrics are the number of clicks, conversions and sales driven by your promoted links. These metrics provide real-time and definitive numbers that are attributable to campaign performance. They can also measure the return on investment (ROI) of your social marketing campaigns. With each click, each conversion that happens, they can be seen in your dashboard.

Number 3 -- Listening and Engagement

Listening in social media isn't a new concept. There are two reasons to listen:

  1. Passive Listening: What are people saying about you? This is important to determine the volume of conversation about your brand. Is there a spike in chatter following the launch of an ad campaign? You can listen to track just how much conversation was generated. Passive listening also provides insight about the competition and a sense of overall sentiment toward your brand.
  2. Actionable Listening: This is where you derive real value from listening. It's what you do when you want to create goodwill in your community; you listen for opportunities to insert yourself into a conversation.

The most interesting opportunities to engage are when you discover a lover (very positive about your brand), a hater (really negative about your brand), or anyone with a question. These three cues act as invitations to enter into a dialogue, and your responses are about creating goodwill or providing information. You want to reward the lovers, address the haters and answer those with questions.

Metrics: Sentiment, Reach, Responses and Echo

Your passive listening efforts will let you assess sentiment toward your brand. This makes it possible to hone in on lovers and haters to make passive listening actionable. Listening also provides the reach and response rate on your posts. It’s important to track posts that generate the highest response rate to apply to future campaigns.

When listening for social activity around posts, your audience will be a defined size X -- where X represents your social followers. Ideally, more than just the people who have subscribed to your social channels will see your campaign. If content is interesting, people will share it. Echo occurs when followers share your content through their networks. If you see a spike in social activity on a non-post day, this can be attributed to Echo.

Some examples of Echo include:

  • On Twitter: # of Retweets and mentions per tweet
  • On Facebook, Google Plus: # of Shares per Post
  • On a blog, YouTube: # of Share Clicks per Post (or Video)

In many respects, Echo is a valuable and telling metric because it reflects how your content is resonating with followers and non-followers. Content with no Echo suggests it's missing the mark because it's not seen as engaging, educational or entertaining.

Conclusion

By leveraging the three pillars to capture these metrics, you can decipher the causal effect of social occurrences that drive campaign conversions. Your social publishing falls into one of the three pillars. Seeing how each post relates to at least one of the pillars allows you to analyze the proper metrics, gain insight and answer a variety of important questions such as:

  • Why did one campaign outperform another?
  • Which posts are converting the highest?
  • What types of posts drove the most echo and traffic?
  • What’s the optimal social breakdown for a successful campaign?
  • Which landing pages convert the best?

The ability to capture the answers to these questions offers more useful insight into what’s taking place and what’s happened within campaigns. The ability to directly compare campaigns across several functional areas provides a new, eye-opening vantage point. Not only can you see the ROI of your campaigns from a desired action or a direct financial point of view, but it offers a holistic and real time view of how your campaigns are performing. As important, it lets you better understand the metrics that matter so they can be integrated into your strategic plans.

After a campaign is completed, there’s still work to be done. You still need to review what was posted and when and how the campaign performed. But it’s not all grim. Because of your real time optimization efforts, your analysis will yield more actionable data. When the time comes to run the next campaign, you’ll be miles ahead of where you used to start.

Image courtesy of JMiks (Shutterstock)