Does this scenario sound familiar? You are responsible for marketing. It’s 2015 and all you keep hearing about is social networking and all of the statistics that push you implement it.
So off you go with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ (Google what?), Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Soon you discover that this social stuff is a lot of work, and all that excitement turns to another day of posting, reading, replying (you ARE replying on social, right?), etc.
Sometimes you come to the realization that social networking is actually time consuming so you seek out some training to do a better job or you hire a company to take care of it all for you. Phew! Now you can get back to real work. Right?
The entire premise of social is to be social. When it comes to business and social, there’s a strange form of thinking that occurs: “There’s this huge audience of people out there, so how about we tell the world what we do on a continual basis and watch the results roll in.”
This goes on for awhile and you start getting really excited about the number of likes, shares, pins, connections, etc. In fact, it’s really easy to get drawn into it so much that you begin measuring your social outcomes based on those likes and shares. This is where the issues begin.
I hear a lot of people out there that measure how they are doing on social media by mentioning their likes and shares. There are also digital marketing agencies who also show their clients this same data and measure success with social activity. That’s all great, but…
From a data analysis point of view, this type of thinking isn’t really helping you much and here’s why. Let’s take a quick step back for a moment shall we?
Long before social and the Internet, when you invested time and money into something, there existed a method of measuring what the outcomes were. After all, if you are going to put money into any sort of input into the business, don’t you want to know what that led to?
There are many ways to measure success but at the end of the day whether it’s brand building, relationship marketing, or a new product/service, revenue is what matters to the bottom line and to the overall business (assuming it’s a for-profit entity).
Now let’s circle back to social. From an analysis perspective there’s many ways to look at those likes and shares you are super excited about. On the one hand, it’s great to see the activity from a brand perspective, but on the other hand, 50 percent of the story is missing; and it’s actually the most important part.
Outcomes. Do you know what each of those likes and shares lead to? All of the analysis that the social networks provide to you including the reach of your posts, does not tell you about the monetary value of the efforts you are putting forth.
This is so critical that I cannot say enough about it. Unless you are measuring monetary outcomes of ALL social activity and doing some really custom analysis (not the default stuff) then all the likes and shares and reach in the world won’t ever tell you anything valuable.
The way to look at social is to begin with looking at your entire reason for being online. Find the stuff that people do which add value to your business (including buying things online, filling out forms, signing up for newsletters, etc.) and give those actual monetary values.
Map social activity to all of the various outcomes (i.e., money) and shift from measuring likes and shares to seeing the impact on your bottom line.
The advantages are huge to your business. First, you can do more of what works and less of what does not work. You can see what social networks bring more value (or less), you can take your costs and measure ROI, and most importantly you can group types of users together and get a better understanding of how your time and money leads to activities that drive more income.
So there it is. I just can’t re-iterate enough that likes and shares and reach really are not the proper way to measure value with social networking. The value is to look at ROI and get true data analysis on the impact to your bottom line. After all, time is money and isn’t it better to know that the time you spend on social is paying off (or not)?
Bonus Tip: Objectivity rules. Make sure your social outcomes are being measured independently of the person/company that manages your social networking so there’s no reason for data bias.
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(Photo above | Cascade Business News)