Measuring Social Media

At the IMC conference in Stockholm there was a panel of experts discussing how to leverage social media for web success. The discussion surrounded the definition of social media and what the panel thought were success measures online. Matthew Colebourne (CEO of coComment) said that measuring success depended on the goals and business objectives of the company who wanted to somehow leverage social media. I agree entirely, so I pressed the panel for more information and asked if my goal and objectives were set and a lift in brand perception was a target, how would we go about measuring the success of that? This was not answered very well, largely because the question was deflected by asking why measure brand awareness?

I feel that point needs addressing first before I continue to press the question. It depends on who you’re talking to when you talk about branding. Semantics are an important issue as we saw with the engagement open discussion among many web analytics practioners. Some of my customers call branding all the ways to reach or touch the consumer. In that context branding lift would be an extremely useful metric, a KPI even if actions could be taken to improve the branding and optimize the marketing spend. Social media therefore becomes an incredibly important reach factor.

Let me put it another way. I have a number of clients whom combined spend over ¢€š¬500 million euros per quarter on marketing (all marketing). They have found ways to optimize the way they spend their money by using web analytics but are constantly on the lookout for new ways to reach and engage with their consumers. Social media is one way to do this but currently because there is no framework for measuring the impact of social media on the bottom line they aren’t spending on social media yet. This is an opportunity.

I’ve posted before about some of the tools available to help develop a framework and particularly Jeremaih Owyang published some useful ideas around this.

Getting back to the point, the panel at the IMC couldn’t or didn’t answer this question so now I’m asking you;

Forget about branding semantics “How do you measure the success of social media marketing campaigns and what tools can you use to optimize those campaigns?”

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

Posted in General, Web 2.0, Web Analytics

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6 comments on “Measuring Social Media
  1. Steve, did you get a chat with Jack during any of the breaks?

    Anyhow, thanks for your feedback!

  2. I did manage to speak with Jack, he was pretty open that he didn’t really have an answer to my question. When it really comes to finding out what social media is working and where to spend your money the panel had no better answer than set KPI’s, consult your web analytics tool and check referrers so you can work out ROI. That works to a point but it is not the answer I am looking for. I want to know how to direct my marketing spend effectively by measuring the effect of conversations which don’t link directly to my website or result in “click through from a referrer”. I am convinced that there is a way to do this but currently no-one is apparently.

  3. I don’t think that measuring brand awareness and consideration is a waste of time at all. If you are conducting a branding campaign then that’s the most important thing that you should be measuring.

    My point on the panel was that, as with any measurement, you have to be VERY exact about the question you are asking.

    Brand awareness and consideration occurs in people’s heads so you need to find a mechanism to extract it. We (coComment) are planning to do it by analysing what people say in free-form conversations, typically it has been done by researchers calling individuals and canvassing in the street.

    However, you have to be aware that what you are measuring takes place in a location (people’s brains) that is impacted by more than just online. Therefore, it is very hard (and possibly misleading) to suggest that you can measure the effect of an individual delivery mechanism unless that is the only one. If that’s not the case; ie. you deliver a campaign online, in print, via tv, etc etc then clearly you cannot measure the effect of only the internet in changing the consideration or awareness.



  4. Hi Matt,

    It wasn’t you that said measuring brand awareness was a waste of time, sorry if that was unclear. It was actually Lennart Svanberg who posed the question “why measure brand perception at all?”.

    I wouldn’t argue with your assessment of measuring free form conversations. It’s one method I’ve started using also at the moment in the form of positive and negative comments with a KPI called positive comment index. Measuring this form of qualitative data in the same way as we measure canvassed research offline, but gathering the data online. It’s one of a number of measures I’ve basically invented for the purpose of measuring social media activities.

    Your point about branding impact is also something I agree with but I was never talking about measuring that. Read the post I made about REAN and the resulting discussion that came from it. I was talking about how to measure whether the social media in use effected brand impact. Some of the companies I’m working with would look at these measures very seriously especially if we can compare (benchmark) data from other sources. The idea being to determine whether social media initiatives are better or worse than a comparable medium like online banner advertising for impacting brand awareness. It’s a question a lot of my clients are asking… Where do we spend our money? What are our benchmarks?

    This was what I was looking for from the panel but it was never discussed because the conversation went off into an argument about whether we should measure branding at all.

    Some companies are not interested in branding at all and focus more on sales, leads or other conversion activity and that’s all fine (I’ve been doing that for years). But some of the work I’m doing is right at the beginning of a product lifecycle, when you can’t use SEM/SEO & keywords for instance, you have to build brand awareness first so that people know what to look for. It’s a totally different ball game.

    Best regards

  5. Steve, have you had any clarification on this matter? I’ve been waiting for an updaye:)

  6. @Chris; I did develop my own methodology and KPIs based on fragmented bits of research and a logical approach based around metrics you can take action on.

    They’re based on offsite and onsite metrics. On site KPIs being the same as ordinary web metrics looking at Social media as simply a source of traffic.

    Offsite KPIs are based on the buzz around the service or brand.

    Measuring the level of influence of key individuals and their ideas.

    Measuring the level of group participation in 3rd party sites.

    Measuring the level of engagement of individuals on 3rd party sites in groups.

    Qualitative measurement. Does a comment meet a specified criteria, yes or no? And how do we use comments and related qualititative data in business decision making.

    The purpose of these measurements is the ability to be able to locate key influencers, act on their ideas and engage with their audiences.

    How we do all of this is coming out in another post or whitepaper quite soon and is something we’ve developed into a framework for a client.

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