By Marian Burk Wood, Author of The Marketing Plan Handbook
Before you roll out a new social media marketing program, be ready to answer one key question about results: are we there yet? Here’s a roadmap for tuning up your metrics so you’ll know where you’re headed and how to track progress along the way.
Look Ahead, Look Behind
Just as your GPS needs a street address to plot a route, you need three types of specific objectives to serve as destinations for your social media activities:
- Marketing objectives for brand building and relationship building (such as targets for brand awareness or customer acquisition). Ford’s campaign for the new Fiesta—initially a social media event reinforced by traditional media—set (and achieved) objectives for brand impressions and awareness as well as pre-launch information requests. In the follow-up to P&G’s super-viral Old Spice Guy campaign, one marketing objective was to attract a million Facebook fans to the brand’s social media “sacred club,” part of the push to increase brand awareness and change consumer attitudes.
- Financial objectives for money-related results (such as sales and profitability—by channel, by customer, etc.). QVC can set sales objectives for sales driven from its Facebook page (which has 300,000-plus “likes”) and its Twitter presence (more than 30,000 followers), track repeat business, and calculate profit by product and channel.
- Societal objectives that give your social media marketing a larger purpose (such as raising money for a worthy cause). P&G’s Dawn relied on the brand’s Facebook and Twitter interactions to get customers involved in achieving its target of donating $500,000 to wildlife conservation organizations.
And to steer clear of potholes, don’t forget to check the rearview mirror—learn from how and why existing programs hit bumpy roads in the past.
Prepare to Shift into High Gear
With objectives in place, your next step is to set up standards and a timetable for checking these metrics:
- Compass points. Are you going in the right direction? For marketing objectives related to brand awareness or preference, metrics such as the number of Facebook “likes” and the number of positive blog comments can give you a sense of whether you’re gaining ground, standing still, or going south. QVC, for instance, regularly monitors the number and sentiment of comments on each blog post, promotional tweet, and Facebook post. Bounce rates, referral rates, and engagement duration are other compass points; think of indicators that make sense for your objectives and business.
- Mile markers. You should be able to estimate how far along you need to be at various points in the journey so you can make interim adjustments as needed. For example, are you attracting and converting enough visitors every day/week/month to reach your long-term targets? Check these metrics early and often to avoid nasty last-minute surprises. QVC drills down into its sales statistics—sometimes minute by minute—to determine whether each product or promotion is on the right track and make mid-course corrections as necessary.
- Speed. How quickly are you moving toward your destination? Look at viral rates for your communications to analyze how quickly you’re gaining new friends, subscribers, or customers (depending on your objectives), and investigate unusual lags or patterns in response to social media initiatives. If something is working especially well, use it to accelerate your results.
Now you’re all set to hit the road and put the pedal to the metal!