Using social media monitoring to evaluate the success of your digital marketing campaigns and reach your goals
When planning your digital marketing strategy or campaigns, you probably have a range of targets and goals for social media in mind that you are hoping to achieve, and that will help you measure your success. But how do you assess whether you are reaching these goals in practice? In this post I will outline the type of goals to consider and tools and techniques to assess success.
For example, you might consider one or a combination of the following as goals when approaching integrating social in your business:
- Increase in followers/fans
- Increase in requests for information
- Increase in leads
- Increase in sales (of a specific product/service, or of everything, or perhaps in a specific market).
Social media monitoring allows you to add another string to your bow, so to speak, by allowing you to track another important metric: visibility.
Visibility is important; it affects brand recognition, trust and ultimately more inbound lead opportunities. Good visibility means that you are the most likely to be the brand that potential buyers associate with your market, and in exceptionally good circumstances your brand becomes synonymous with the product, in the same way Tupperware and Tannoy are.
Of course, visibility isn’t the only important metric, but should be one of a combination of metrics that you measure.
But how to track visibility?
Visibility is certainly harder to evaluate than, say, lead numbers, as it is less concrete. But looking at how often your brand and products are being talked about online is reflective of how well-known and frequently discussed you are.
With a monitoring tool, you can see who is talking about your brand, how often and where. It also allows you to see how any campaigns you’re running may be influencing the prevalence of your products in visibility, giving you an indication of how much impact the campaign is having on your prospects.
When tracking mentions of your brand, it’s best to exclude mentions from your owned media channels (i.e. your own tweets, website etc) in order to get a fair picture. Do the same for competitors to get an unbiased, fair way of benchmarking your success.
Visibility needs to be measured in both quantitative and qualitative terms. When evaluating the efficacy of your campaign, you should consider how conversation about your brand changes during and after the campaign – not only in terms of volume, but also in terms of the type of conversation.
The importance of benchmarking
Let’s face it, numbers don’t mean much without context!
You need to know where you started before you can know how you have improved, or what effect your campaign has had.
Therefore benchmarking is important; start tracking your metrics before your campaign begins so that you can compare them as time goes on, and be consistent.
As mentioned before, it’s also a good idea to track your competitors to see how visible your brand is in comparison, and to ascertain your share of voice. With any luck, if your campaign is a success, you should see your share increase.
When setting your goals, be specific but realistic. Have percentage increases in mind that you’d like to achieve. Although it’s always good to aim high, don’t set yourself up for frustration or disappointment by setting yourself an unreasonable goal (i.e. don’t aim for the same number of mentions as Justin Bieber if, say, your business is a local florist).
What are they talking about in their conversations?
So, you’ve seen an increase in conversation about your brand and your share of voice has increased: fantastic. However, you need to look into what that conversation is before you can truly understand the impact of your campaign.
Remember, the numbers aren’t everything. For example, what if that increased conversation is negative as with GoCompare?
Understanding what people are talking about can help you understand why your campaign was successful, what didn’t work quite so well and what resonated with your audience.
Look into the conversation you have found and consider:
- Is the conversation generally positive or negative?
- What is it focusing on? Are there any common themes?
- Are different topics appearing from before?
- Are people focusing on what you wanted them to focus on?
- Why has the volume of conversation increased?
- Is it because an influencer mentioned you?
- Or because people have seen and shared an ad/piece of content?
You might want to explore if, how and why those things have changed over time.
If the volume of conversation is too large for you to possibly read it all, then use sampling techniques (400 mentions is the magic number to achieve 95% accuracy) to manage the workload.
Where is conversation taking place?
As well as what people are talking about, it’s important to know where they are discussing your brand, and why.
Look into where the conversation is taking place – are people tweeting, or are they looking for more than 140 characters to discuss the brand, and are therefore flocking to forums? And if so, why? Has this changed since the start of the campaign? If these are negative things, complaints, should you be taking direct action by responding to help perform effective customer service? Can you find and cultivate gushing bloggers into brand advocates?
Most good monitoring tools will allow you to chart mentions by page type, so you can quickly and easily see where conversation is taking place.
Which social media monitoring tool to use?
Social media monitoring tools can be pricey, but there are plenty of free/lower cost social media monitoring options available. For those looking for an enterprise solution, the WebLiquid report gives a valuable overview of the major players in the sector (Alterian SM2, Brandwatch, MutualMind, Radian6 and Synthesio) and evaluates each tools’ strengths and weaknesses.
A longer list of tools to suit a wider range of budgets can be found in ‘The Guide To 88 Social Media & Monitoring Tools’ by ViralBlog.