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Investing in social media tools and technology is something all businesses do, but how are you ensuring your investment is worthwhile? Social media throws up a huge volume of data and its harnessing this data for the benefit of your business which is essential. To get the most from your social media efforts and succeed in the use of your chosen tools, you need to achieve the reach and engagement necessary to grow and develop your brand. It all begins with your data and how you manipulate and analyse it effectively.
The Value of Social Data
Once you’ve collected and collated your social data using your chosen social media management tools, what do you do with it? Social media analyses need to be carried out carefully but with predefined goals and considerations so you know what you’re looking for. The sheer volume of data generated by social media and interactions means you do have to be choosy in what you look at. It is very easy to get wrapped up in tracking everything and not actually getting anything actionable from the data available.
Measuring Social Data
To effectively measure and then use your social data, the most natural step to take is to identify the traditional values in your industry and work from there to define how social data can be leveraged for each of these values. Values such as convenience – this is desired…no, demanded…by customers are paramount. You need to be able to use social data to make the purchase or customer journey more convenient for your customers based on behaviour and engagements on social networks. You can also harness the power of social data for tasks such as customised and personalised data for your target audience, helping to create a more individualised customer journey.
Some marketers do take things to a level that makes it hard to collate the data at all. There is a sense in some circles that you should simply measure “everything” and then work it out afterwards. But without a more focused approach, you end up with reams of data and nothing to do with it. There have also been arguments which suggest you should avoid measuring “vanity” metrics but everything should be considered on its own merits. If you want to enhance brand awareness (as opposed to sales leads), then increasing the number of (targeted and relevant) followers and likewise, engagements on Twitter are good initial indicators of brand awareness increasing.
“Likes” and “Favourites”, therefore, do have a value in your social data analyses. They don’t go far enough on their own to deliver actionable results but they give a feel for the mood around your social profile and accounts. If you are committing to producing a wide range of content of different types, for example, the Likes can be used to discover which kind of content marketing strategies are most popular with your social audience.
Partnering this kind of traditional metric with more sophisticated social media analyses such as clickthrough data will help to show a bigger picture and help you to see how you can further use your social accounts for the benefit of your business.
A key metric you cannot avoid when measuring your social data is your social reach, and this is directly impacted on by your engagement – the better you engage, the better your reach. It’s as simple as that.
Defining Social Reach
Reach was once defined as simply the total number of people exposed to your message, but it has expanded far beyond this. “Reach” is the people you are able to touch with your messages across all your social media channels, but its measurement is a little trickier. Reach is measured through impressions and views, as well as Likes and shares and similar. While most marketers accept that organic social reach is in decline, it is still of high value and it is almost entirely dependent on engagement.
Why Engagement Matters
Social media on its own perhaps isn’t going to be a direct driver of sales but it plays a key role in building brand awareness, assisting in the sales and customer journey and creating a voice for your company which customers can resonate with.
A fine example of this is the inbound marketing company Moz, who have tracked their own story to show the success of social engagement. Moz acquires around 85% of their customers through inbound channels and has no requirement for a sales team, keeping their customer acquisition low. Their inbound channels, of course, incorporate many examples of social marketing.
Engagement is your chance to build trust in a brand. You can use the brand voice consistently to attract the right eyeballs on your brand and content and handle any less positive feedback in the same way too. Proactive companies engaged with their social followers see their reach grow and, in turn, their reputation improves too.
Social engagement cannot be ignored if brands are investing in social media and whilst it is far from static and easy to measure, it can be analysed effectively for actionable evaluation for future campaigns.
Measuring Social Engagement
As mentioned, social engagement is tracked in a number of ways utilising everything from Likes to social shares to comments. Understanding the value of each of these different metrics helps to create a more effective method for social engagement measurement, as this post by social media analytics firm Sotrender explains. Key elements to focus on in measuring social engagement include:
While this can be difficult to track on social media, some marketers take the view that a follower is “converted” if they comment or reply to a post. These actions show engagement on a higher level than a simple Like or favourite, which is defined as social applause.
Applause for any of your social media posts is great as it helps boost interest and credibility of your brand, but it isn’t necessarily indicative of a thorough level of engagement. People are “liking” what you’re doing which is always positive though and shows they have engaged on some level.
It is also important to measure the amplification rate of your social posts, as this gives a real indication of the success of your engagement. Amplification refers to what happens once your content has been shared or retweeted – what do the next level of people do? Do you end up with more followers? Is it shared further into a wider (and still targeted) network? Knowing these answers can help you position future content and gives you a further layer of potential followers to engage meaningfully with.
If you keep good track of each of these elements you’ll start to see patterns which you can follow and use to shape future campaigns. Creating high value engagements and personalised experiences for your followers is a way of ensuring a boost in reach and in turn, awareness and interest in your brand.