Companies need to tie social media measurement to business metrics that really matter to their organisations rather than getting caught up in buzzwords such as 'engagement', 'sentiment' and 'reach'. That's the word from Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration.
"It is good to see that many South African companies are looking more carefully at measuring social media metrics as they roll out their social campaigns. But they also need to think carefully about what it is that they are measuring and how it relates to their business goals," says Mullins.
Mullins says many companies are measuring the performance of their social media campaigns using a range of analytics and online reputation management (ORM) tools. With these tools, they are able to get some idea of their social media reach and perhaps even a feel for marketplace sentiment. They may be able to identify brand advocates and detractors and get a sense of their reach and influence, or identify how many people are talking about their products or sharing their content.
What most brands are not yet able to do is to understand how social media 'engagements' map to business outcomes such as customer conversions or how much their investment into social media channels is costing them against the value it delivers.
"It's nice to know, for example, that sentiment about your product is largely positive. But it is somewhat meaningless unless you can understand how that translates into visits to your Web site, customer conversions or increases in customer Web searches for your products," continues Mullins.
According to Mullins the challenge that most companies face in digging deeper into social media data for the answers to really important business questions is that their marketing data exists in silos spread throughout the enterprise - CRM systems, email databases, Web analytics tools, social platforms and more.
Once organisations start putting the right enterprise architecture in place, they can begin to draw information from a range of sources to answer more complex questions. The fundamental question that companies must ask themselves at this point is not which social media metrics they want to measure, but what they want to measure about their business, Mullins says.
"This means you'll start out asking very different questions. Rather than asking about Klout scores or followers, you'll be asking how customers interact with you in social environments and how these translate into the actions you desire from them. You'll start asking how social media acts as a branding vehicle, a direct marketing tool, or a combination of both. Each of these strategies may have value, but the question is which of them is right for your business and its desired outcomes. You will look at social media measurement tools and technologies in a completely different way and begin harness them to make social media work for your business," Mullins concludes.