- November 18, 2013

Measuring What Matters in Social Media

We are wired to love BIG and to believe that bigger is better.

But in the case of measuring social media, our fixation with BIG can sometimes drive us to misleading results. Just focusing on the number of fans or followers may not be the best indicator of the real value of a brand’s social community.

There are many reasons that brands should embark on a social strategy, whether it’s to create buzz and brand awareness, generate leads, increase customer loyalty, drive website traffic, or even move the needle on sales.

But whatever your ultimate goals, there are three building blocks that can help drive social marketing success that have little to do with BIG. Rather than focusing on potential fans, savvy social brands hone in on quality activity and interactions. By using audience-centric social media metrics and competitive benchmarking, brands can better understand their performance and identify opportunities to improve their social impact.

Building Block 1: Growth and Engagement Metrics

Growth paired with engagement metrics allow you to understand the effectiveness and efficiency of your social media efforts by measuring audience size and engagement over time.

Take for example some of the world’s most iconic brands – including Disney – who collectively have over 200 million fans. Over six months, we can see Disney and these other brands experienced consistent fan growth.

Number of Fans

But upon further study and the use of an audience-centric metric like Unique Engaged Users (those who share, retweet, etc.), performance is measured not by BIG numbers, but by actual engagement. Disney’s rate of engagement far exceeds that of the closest brand. But how can they make their engagement more consistent over time?

Unique Engaged Users

Building Block 2: Content Strategy Metrics

Content strategy metrics shine a light on the tactics that produce the most compelling content, providing ways to benchmark your social results and gain awareness of marketplace best practices.

On a day-to-day basis, content strategy metrics help you determine which tactics are working and which are not, which ones you should continue and which ones you should stop. These metrics can also provide valuable insight as you monitor what content is being produced by your competitors and how it is driving their social marketing success.

Content strategy metrics like content type, time of posting and keywords can help you answer questions such as:

  • Is our content as “shareable” as our competitors?
  • Which content types are driving the most engagement for our brand?
  • Are there specific day/time combinations in which our social audience is most likely to engage?
  • Are we posting too frequently/not frequently enough based on our audience engagement?

The illustration below suggests that an effective strategy for Starbucks would be to post offers around noon and 2PM on Fridays for optimal engagement. Perhaps folks are looking for an afternoon break at the end of a long week. Brands may never gain these valuable insights without detailed and relevant social media intelligence.

Engagement by Time of Day

Building Block 3: Audience Quality Metrics

Audience quality metrics help assess the characteristics of your social audience, gauge their loyalty and affinity to your brand, identify influencers and advocates, and determine their engagement with your content over time relative to your competitors.

Metrics to monitor when measuring audience quality include:

  • % Returning Users
  • Frequency of Actions
  • % Shares or Retweets
  • Brand Cross Engagement

Brand cross engagement provides deep insight into the behaviors of your engaged audience. Think of this as an affinity map and a profiling tool of sorts. This metric illustrates how likely your engaged audience is to interact with categories of content and your competitors, and can also lead to the discovery of additional unexpected interests.

The chart below provides a snapshot of the top 10 social properties that MTV fans also interact with. Digging further into cross-engagement metrics enables brands to develop a sense of your engaged fans other consumer interests.

MTV: Cross Brand Engagement

Upon embracing audience-centric social media metrics, the sky’s the limit in the ways that you can experiment, define and refine the strategy behind your social media communications. The right social strategy can turn fans into loyal advocates, increase customer interactions and significantly improve marketing performance.

About the Author: Tania Yuki
Tania Yuki is CEO and founder of Shareablee, a social business intelligence platform that helps marketers maximize the value of their social media efforts with insights about how consumers are engaging with their brands and competitive brands across social platforms. She has spent most of her career in digital marketing, measurement and analytics, and was recently honored with a Great Mind Award from the Advertising Research Foundation. She was named by Forbes one of “12 Women Driving Digital in New York”.

For more information about Comscore’s offering of Shareablee, a new social insights platform, email us at learnmore@comscore.com.