We talk a lot about social media marketing. An awful lot. But there is one good reason for that – it works! Social media marketing is indispensable, so much so that it’s not a question of whether you do it, but rather how well you do it. How much you like it, or how good you are it, has no bearing on the need for being able to get results over a wide range of platforms, but more importantly, how to measure those results. If you don’t have a social media measurement plan, then your only plan is failure.
It’s easy to think of social media as ‘random marketing’, where you throw content against a wall hoping some of it will stick. This is one strategy, but not a very good one. Only by putting yourself in control of the process from start to finish will you be able to use social media marketing to reach your potential consumers, so an effective measurement plan is vital to succeeding.
All marketing must be meticulously planned, from the colour of your letterhead to the fine print in your contract, which takes time to plan, implement, measure, then adjust. Social media marketing is no exception, it’s not just ‘random thoughts’ every now and again that may, or may not, speak to your audience. Whichever way you look at it, you need a social media measurement plan.
It’s easy to think that a social media measurement plan is just about figures. After all, all those ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and ‘loves’ mean something, right? Actually, no, they might not. Just because your content is popular, doesn’t mean it’s bringing in sales. You should want conversion from your measurement plan, not popularity.
Before you even start you plan, think about what you want your social media to do. You can dive right in and analyze the metrics, but what do all the numbers really mean? The measurement plan is a way to get you nearer your sales goal, never forget that. You need goals to dictate the direction, therefore the measurement, so take all the time you need to identify your goals.
Each company will have different goals, but think about things like:
It’s a good idea to write all this down as your social media plan will never be ‘finished’ – you’ll just move on to another goal.
Do not make the mistake of singling out social media in these goals, it’s not a ‘this or that’ situation. Social media offers a large amount of support to all your marketing, traditional or digital. Take a holistic approach, then you will save yourself many marketing dollars as all your efforts are integrated and working in syncopation to reach success and inform you which direction you need to be going in.
From this list of goals that you want your social media to achieve, create key performance indicators (KPIs). For instance, ‘How credible is my brand’, may lead you to discover you are doing nothing for your brand development, and you sales are suffering because of it. Brand integrity is everything in the 21st century digital marketing age, so it should be your first concern and needs to have your most pressing attention. This will mean that ‘Creating brand credibility’ is your KPI.
Identify further KPIs, then prioritize them. Once you know in which order you are going to work on them, you have the beginning of your plan and it’s time to strategize.
Take you KPIs and work out what affects them. If we take ‘creating brand credibility’ as our KPI, sit down and list all the strategies that affect that goal. This will be things like, negative feedback, employee buy in, product quality, advertising campaigns, visual clues like logos and letterheads, customer service and problem solving. List as many things that affect your KPI whether your company struggles with them or not, because as you make a plan for social media you will find that may of the aspects of your company are interlinked with it, and a new way of working could be discovered that is better than the way before.
Keep the list handy and refer to it often. Give yourself a little time to really consider what affects your KPI as the more strategies you have, the more you can leverage your social media marketing.
Now you have your KPIs and your strategies, you need to quantify your strategies and decide on a measurement.
If we go back to our example of ‘creating brand credibility’, and take ‘product quality’ as our strategy, we now need to look for how we can quantify your goals and look for a measurement for them.
You need to think about the indicators of product quality that you currently have. Things like, positive reviews, recommendations, negative reviews, rate of return, warranty take up, complaints or production waste and failure. These aspects all boil down to numbers – numbers you can quantify.
Identify your current numbers, see how you can measure them, then set a base line. Now you are ready to plan!
Look at your base line and decide what is a realistic goal to increase your credibility. If you decide that the goal you are going to work on reducing is the rate of return, and that rate is currently 100 products a month, then a reduction of 10% may be a good goal to set. After that you need to decide how you are going to do it. You could look at a lack of cross selling for customer satisfaction, quality of materials used, lack of education in the use of your product or anything else you can uncover. All these problems need a different solution so write that into your plan.
Now your plan is really shaping up! You know what you want to work on, what your goal is, how you are going achieve and what you are going to monitor. We’ve been through a lot of things and haven’t really touched on social media yet! This is the time to look at how social media can help you.
Let’s take one aspect we have drilled down our plan to increase credibility – lack of education. Social media is excellent for the dissemination of information. All you have to decide is what media you want to use. Video is excellent for ‘how to’ instruction. You could also make a photo article going through the steps of safe use. You can publish user instructions. You may already have this information to hand, so all you’d need to do is polish them up and add them to the right platform…then set a goal for measurement.
Each platform has a different strength so make sure you are aware of which platform is strong in each area. If you make a video, YouTube is a great vehicle, or make a slide show for a photo article. You can often put the same content on different platforms, but whatever your platform – have a goal and a measurement.
The more high quality content you can put out on multiple social media platforms, the more likely you are to have success in your goals.
Now is the time to take every opportunity to measure your progress. Are you tracking views? The click through rate? Engagement? Whatever it is, measure it! Don’t focus on just one measurement as you may be able to pick up valuable information from taking a broader view. Sales don’t come from the number of visitors you have from social media, but from the type of actions they take. Every platform has a multitude of analytics to read, so use them! Get familiar with what they mean and how it can affect your goals and take the holistic approach. This will give you best picture as you look across all your media – traditional and digital.
As you look at the actions they take over several platforms and against several goals, then you can begin to adjust the plan and make new goals.
One of the biggest advantages of social media is that it gives you a front row seat in the conversations of your consumers. They often swap experience, recommendations and advice, so if you listen well, you can learn all that you need to relieve your consumer’s pain points and provide them with the service they need. Again it takes a little practice to find out where they are hanging, but the effort is worth it. It puts you in the driving seat for providing the answers to their questions.
Making an effective social media measurement plan will go a long way to helping you achieve a robust bottom line. It will help you understand more about your customers, more about their buying patterns and help you keep one step ahead of their needs. Making the plan gives you time to reflect on what is important and gives you some time to think about solutions or improvements that could be made in your processes.
Really, when you think about it, there’s no real downside to a social media measurement plan.
What are you waiting for?