S ocial media is an important element in the PR mix. Networking platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook provide a fantastic opportunity to increase visibility and reach new audiences.
Whether it’s to open up and show the personality of your brand, amplify media coverage, spark a debate or even share a bit of joy, social platforms allow brands to engage in a positive way.
When it comes to measuring impact, these channels also provide you with an array of helpful statistics. Each platform does take a slightly different approach (using their own esoteric language), which can make reporting a little trickier. But, in truth, you shouldn’t be limiting your reporting to what these platforms provide you with anyway.
The stats provided will only ever give you an indication that things are moving in the right direction – they won’t show you the bigger picture. Instead, your reporting needs to be tied closely to what you are trying to achieve from your PR strategy, in line with your overall business objectives.
Goals may include increasing visibility, protecting your reputation or generating leads – which is why there is no single definitive method for measuring success. Your targets may also change for each campaign.
Here are five factors to consider when measuring your efforts on social:
"The stats provided will only ever give you an indication that things are moving in the right direction – they won’t show you the bigger picture."
1. Target audience
There are perceived advantages in having heaps of followers. If people see a profile with 20,000 followers, and another has 200, they will probably pay more attention to the one with the bigger number. Lots of followers also means you can reach more people, and each post will receive more ‘impressions.’ But, just how valuable are follower or impression figures when measuring success?
Well, if you’re a B2B brand looking to influence a niche audience, the answer is not that much. It’s more important to monitor exactly who it is you are interacting with – are they an authoritative industry influencer or a potential sales lead? How can you nurture that interest beyond the initial engagement?
This data isn’t readily available on an analytics dashboard but you do need to know that you are reaching the right people, so it’s worth the extra effort to evaluate your followers and build stronger relationships with them.
2. Brand ambassadors
You’ll always need willing participants to do this but we’ve worked with many ‘brand ambassadors’ in this way, and seen great success.
If your aim is to establish them as a thought leader it’s worth noting small wins along the way, such as being included in LinkedIn’s Editors’ Pick – a feature designed to collate commentary from leading industry figures when they post about trending subject matters.
But it’s the bigger wins, such as invitations to speak at industry events, the suggestion of an introductory meeting, that you really need to know about. So, make sure you’re regularly capturing anecdotal evidence from your ambassadors whenever you can. (We talk more about the importance of the anecdote in Part 1 of this series).
A LinkedIn Editors’ Picks feature for our client Autocab
3. Monitor interactions
The number of likes and shares you’re receiving on posts is a good baseline for measuring brand visibility. But the bigger potential gains from social networks come from the social networking! So, you’ll want to see a good level of genuine interaction.
When reporting, therefore, it’s always worth paying attention to the comments made on posts – and replying to them to acknowledge the time that someone has taken to engage. If your brand ambassador’s LinkedIn posts are starting to see comments from second and third tier connections or key influencers in their industry, this also deserves to be highlighted.
4. Website conversions
Generating web traffic may not necessarily be a primary objective of a social media campaign, but it can be a useful metric that shows the level of interest you’re achieving.
Google Analytics will show you how much traffic each platform is driving, how long they are staying on your site and if they go on to visit other pages. When reviewed from a holistic perspective, it can also provide some telling insights.
For example, we worked on one campaign where the objective was to educate the market on a new enterprise tech solution. But, by paying attention to website conversions, we were also able to track how an initial interaction on a client’s post led to a website visit (and the subsequent downloading of an industry paper) which, ultimately, helped secure our client’s first ever sale!
5. Sales leads
It’s worth bearing in mind though that while your visibility on social media may be a key reason why a prospect reaches out initially – the relationship is often nurtured away from that platform – by phone, email or at an event, for example.
This behaviour is hard to track as the information is not always captured, never mind shared with the marketing team. It’s so important to know where those relationships go next though. Where possible, try to keep tabs on how these interactions are being generated and nurtured. Keep asking questions to find those nuggets of information.
Measuring the impact of social media does require effort and numbers alone aren’t enough – especially where objectives involve awareness and perception. In order to get closer to the truth, you need to dig a little deeper.
If you can encourage people to share anecdotal evidence and highlight opportunities that have been created, it will help to create a better understanding of the true impact of social media and where it fits within your overall sales and marketing strategy.
Danny is an Account Manager in the Manchester office