Gathering social media data: Know what you want to measure
Before you can leverage the insights you glean from social media research, it’s critical to first determine the objectives, metrics and data that will best shape your marketing campaign’s focus. Having clear campaign goals, detailed user demographics, good social media monitoring tools, and the ability to interpret the conversations you’re hearing are all crucial components.
Shel Holtz is a prominent social media expert and industry influencer. Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology, and brings nearly 35 years of experience to his work developing content and communication strategies for large and mid-sized organizations. His focus is online and social media, internal communications, crisis management and other dimensions of organizational communication.
Holtz maintains that many companies and marketers aren’t using social media analytics in a focused, effective way. “You have to know what you want to measure and be clear about your business objectives and set them before measuring social media response. You can’t move the needle if you don’t know what will move it.”
Once you’ve established your marketing objectives, what analytics do you need to measure success? In the social media landscape, typical metrics like landing page traffic, unique visits, page depth and time on site often don’t offer enough insight to help drive your campaign focus. These are only quantitative measurements. To see the full overview, it’s imperative to measure the qualitative aspects, as well.
Social media monitoring offers a whole other layer of visibility and analysis into your cam-paign’s effectiveness by providing metrics around:
Using brand awareness metrics to assess and make changes to your marketing strategy
It’s critical for your company to determine both which analytic tools are the best fit for you and how you’ll use the accumulated data to best reshape your marketing campaign’s focus as needed. Once you have decided which of the above metrics will provide the most applicable information, you can begin to track social media reaction to your brand and your campaign.
The next step is determining which aspects of social media conversations will directly impact your decision to make a change in your marketing strategy. Some of those factors might be:
Comments: No matter what the overall sentiment, assess whether responding to comments about your brand is warranted or strategically aligned with your social media strategy and if not, continue to evaluate the results of monitoring.
Sentiment: Monitoring the emotional reaction and tone of the community is critical. Is your campaign provoking a specific response? Is it the anticipated or desired reaction?
Negative reactions: Before you act too quickly and remove all traces of negative comments and sentiment, remember that perception is key. Take a well thought out, comprehensive approach to dealing with the most negative conversations and influencers. Is it possible to turn the negative into a positive? Can you do this by reaching out to key influencers?
Neutral/no response: It’s tempting to assume that your campaign timing is off or you made the wrong media placement decision when you are receiving a neutral response. But regroup and assess when and where to implement any changes and consider what you want to achieve.
Timing: This is a critical factor. According to Holtz, don’t act too quickly or too late. If you are able to stay abreast of the social media conversations, it’s easier to gauge the appropriate timing for changes to your campaign strategy.
Unexpected outcomes: If you encounter an unexpected outcome from your campaign, carefully evaluate what it means and what you should do about it. Surprisingly, an unexpected outcome might just have an actionable opportunity hidden inside.
Holtz illustrates both the timing and nega-tive reaction factors noted above with the example of a popular clothing company that changed its highly recognizable logo. Upon seeing an immediate negative reaction in the social sphere, the company took a fast crisis management approach and scrapped the logo. But after examining the data, the company realized that the negative comments were generated by a very niche group: clothing industry design insiders.
As Holtz describes, “People often overreact. The buzz from this group caused the company to move too quickly and pull the new logo immediately. What the company didn’t realize was that the niche group really had no brand awareness because they weren’t part of the buying public who knew the brand.”
To illustrate an “unexpected outcomes” scenario, Holtz describes how a leading educational publisher turned a potentially disastrous social media reaction into a surprising opportunity. The publisher began to offer free online subscriptions to their products and services. The online offer required registering for an access code. As a promotional campaign component, the company asked a key industry influencer and author to write an article about their offer.
The writer couldn’t get the access code on the site and proceeded to write “a scathing article” about it, which was viewed by thousands of potential customers. But surprisingly, a significant portion of the blog’s readership still clicked on the link to the company’s website and signed up for the offer. Holtz says “thirty thousand people signed up and that was the company’s original objective! They weren’t after sentiment, they were after subscribers.”
7 ways to use social media monitoring as your marketing campaign compass
You’re using the right metrics to assess social media reaction to your marketing and promotional campaign and gathering the data related to your objectives. You understand the dynamics and are closely monitoring the data. What elements of your campaign do you modify in response to what you’ve discovered? Those elements may include the following:
1. Micro-targeting an audience
Since social media monitoring tools allow you to segment by gender, age, language, country, state and even city, you can use this level of granularity to highly refine audiences. When you tweak your marketing campaign target audience, it might mean shifting, enlarging or narrowing your target group. Let’s say you wanted to target ‘yoga moms,’ so you hit the blogosphere, assuming you’ll identify your target among the ‘mommy bloggers.’ But social media analytics show that the majority of yoga moms use Facebook® as their primary social media platform. With that insight, you may decide to change your campaign strategy to include more Facebook ads and maybe even a Facebook app targeted at yoga moms.
2. Creative messaging
A recent YouTube® video captured two babies babbling to each other in a language of their own. The video had 18 million views. Creative messaging can include latching on to new social media content and refocus-ing your promotional campaign to include that content. In a brilliant creative messaging move, a pediatric hospital decided to incorporate the video into a blog post to draw more traffic to its site. The writer interviewed one of the hospital’s speech pa-thologists and asked her to “interpret” what the babies were saying. According to Shel Holtz, “It was a value-added opportunity, combining thought leadership with existing online content that people were already familiar with.”
After introducing a new product, a leading gaming manufacturer learned through social media monitoring that a regional tech community was describing its product using acronyms. Acting quickly, the manufacturer tweaked its creative and collateral to factor this information into its brand identity with the market. Monitoring how the market is talking about your products gives you the ability to speak their language and connect with them their way.
4. Media placement
Monitoring audience reaction to media placement in a marketing campaign through social media channels can help you gauge the effectiveness and resonance of a campaign. Let’s say you have two distinct billboard locations and one is generating almost twice as much buzz as the other on social sites. Based on that data, you might decide to increase your buy in the area that’s creating all the buzz, or you can decide to replace the less impactful billboard advertisement with the one that is generating greater interest.
5. Promotional offers
Customers love to get freebies and goodies.Smart marketers leverage that to get customers to opt-in, often requiring they share contact information like an email address, or they identify and reward influencers to en-courage favorable conversation about a product or service. In exchange for a free download of an app or digital coupon, your company captures potential customers who could drive traffic via word of mouth. Probably the biggest driver of a change in your promotional offer would be if it was getting negligible response. Monitor your social media analytics to judge the level of interest in your offer and then be prepared to change course if needed.
6. Utilizing identified key influencers
Whatever your market, industry influencers have authority and the ability to sway online readership to an impressive degree. Monitoring what those influencers are saying can help you identify those that are most relevant to your marketing and promotional campaign. By effectively listening to the conversations about your campaign and measuring the weight of their influence, you can determine when a change in your plan is necessary.
An old rule of management called the Pareto Principle, also called “the law of the few,” means that for many events, approximately 80% of the effects result from 20% of causes. This same principle can be applied to social media influencers.
Clearly, key influencers wield a great deal of authority. It’s a common misconception that the key influencers in your industry must be high-profile, highly visible and authoritative figures. In reality, one of your customers might draw more response from an online review of your product.
An example of the authority of peer influencers can be illustrated in the skin care and beauty industry. There are bloggers with hefty readerships reviewing beauty products. Holtz worked with a beauty industry client who wanted to get its products on shelves in the U.S. This wasn’t happening in the desired timeframe for his client, so to generate buzz, Holtz suggested the company send samples to key spa and beauty bloggers. Holtz crafted individual emails to each one asking if he could send them free samples of his client’s products. This resulted in very favorable reviews posted in the influencers’ blogs and significantly increased social media attention.
7. Global versus local campaign changes
What if you are getting a geo-specific response to your marketing campaign? How do you know when to make a mass campaign adjustment or just tweak to address the regional buzz?
A local radio station wanted to grow a more regional listening audience. The company’s goal was to capture the local listening audience so that they could best target their marketing and promotional campaign to local businesses. But because the station’s broadcasts could be accessed online, it wasn’t clear if their target audience was part of those listeners. A key factor was tapping into the loyalty these small-town listeners had to their small community.
The listeners support local folks, so the radio station started following them on Twitter®, identified the heavy local influencers and began following their followers and promoting the show’s format. It also tweeted the station’s Facebook fan page to get the area’s at-home and work listeners engaged. The show’s hosts were live on Facebook during their broadcasts and could submit requests right from the fan page. This provided another social media measurement and opportunity to capture the local group.
Social media analytics are a real-time compass that can give you a whole new level of insight, intelligence and agility into your marketing and promotional efforts. By using social media indicators as a marketing effectiveness guide, you can now hone campaigns on the fly to improve lead-generation and conversion rates, and improve brand reputation and recognition in your markets.