Social Media - what, why and how to measure

As part of AMEC Measurement Week, we wanted to share our point of view on social media measurement and how social media can support the needs of many departments within a business, beyond those of the PR and communications team.

The subject of measurement continues to be a hot topic at marketing and communications events we have attended recently. This is probably because there are currently more questions than answers about the ‘What’ and the ‘How’. Uncertainty tends to largely revolve around what to measure because very often organisations forget that measurement is about supporting performance.

Applications of Social Media Measurement

Social media is a versatile data source and can be used to inform, measure and assess many aspects of the marketing mix. Sadly, social media measurement is often limited to assessing the effectiveness of digital campaigns and measuring the ‘buzz’ around a specific brand. Sentiment and engagement are often the be-all and end-all of social media measurement. Another issue here is that too often the social media dataset is considered in its entirety and consumer conversations and opinions are often lost in the mass of information generated.

Once consumer conversations have been isolated, analysing perceptions, providing meaningful competitor benchmarking or even deriving segmentations are a relatively easy endeavours and can be critical to providing context for businesses.

So how does this work? Here are some examples below.

Tracking the shift in brand perceptions

We were recently asked to provide metrics to show the ROI for a sponsor of the MTV Movie Awards. Our advice was to establish a baseline by analysing consumer perception around the brand months before the MTV Movie Awards. We then repeated the analysis during the month of the show. We found the sponsorship campaign had shifted the needle in terms of themes of conversation around the brand.

Much like with traditional research methods, benchmarking key drivers of conversation across different time periods can show the impact of sponsorship activity on consumer perceptions. We applied the same pre/post benchmarking method to tracking engagement with the brand, through the campaign and showed the positive impact it had had on Twitter engagement in particular.

Adding further contextual information is useful when social media cannot assess specific “calls to action”. Using other information to triangulate insights and assess the impact of the campaign then becomes necessary. Other research outputs or stats can help amplify the resonance of social media insights too.

For marketing teams it is important to understand whether a campaign has shifted brand perceptions. For example, we tracked general brand perception of Three before and during the “Stop Holiday Spam” campaign. Our analysis showed that pre-campaign (April-May) Three’s reputation was poor owing to the quality of its 3G and 4G coverage. However, its tariffs kept customers switching from other brands. During the campaign (June-July) perceptions clearly changed, with Three’s roaming capabilities contributing to this shift. 

Customer experience / satisfaction

More consumers are choosing to contact companies through Twitter and Facebook to resolve issues. Companies have responded by setting up social customer relationship (CRM) profiles. This activity, together with ongoing discussions in public forums and review sites provide a rich source of insight for customer experience and insight teams. The challenge is there is just so much content and even the best of tools struggle to provide actionable insights. The prize is worth the quest though as social media is a great way to supplement customer satisfaction surveys by tracking and benchmarking net customer sentiment against that of other brands, and offering the possibility to drill down, much like a key driver analysis would using a quantitative survey.

The dataset also affords the possibility to benchmark the performance of social CRM teams by looking at response rates, evidence of resolution or expressions of thanks, which often lead to greater advocacy on the part of customers. If customer satisfaction is a business critical measure, social media KPIs can sit alongside client-owned research and metrics such as NPS, Customer Satisfaction and volumes of complaints, bringing business critical KPIs under one roof to help marketing, customer experience and digital teams better understand what is going on and what actions to take.

Research without action is a job half done

What we have found is that social media insights are often a catalyst to change. For many organisations it provides the evidence they need to add weight to their recommendations to take action. For instance, we have seen that the colour and context provided by social media around drivers of dissatisfaction will often provide further evidence of the changes that need to be made. Our research into categories or brands often confirms hypotheses. So here is to social media insights and not just measurement. The key here is the closer social media researchers are to business needs, the more actionable the research and measurement becomes.

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Gaelle Bertrand
Head of Social Media Intelligence

Call me +44 (0)20 7264 6307