7 Key Guidelines for Evaluating Social Media

Last night #IPASocialWorks, a unique industry collaboration focused on driving best practice in social media effectiveness and measurement, launched their How to Evaluate Social Media for Marketing Communications guide alongside supporting brand case studies taken from across industry.

The guide gives marketers the tools to move away from counting likes and clicks and towards measuring the true business value and profitability of social media, and is part of a joint initiative which brings together The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), The Marketing Society and The Market Research Society (MRS).

Stephen Maher, Chairman #IPASocialWorks, Chairman of The Marketing Society and CEO MBA, says “This guide has come to fruition as a result of our unique cross-industry collaboration and acts as an important step in the evolution of social media marketing and its measurement, as it sets out the optimum approach to tap into the rich level of data provided by this growing channel. And as spend for social media continues to grow, this guide can act as a vital tool for businesses concerned with measuring the impact of their activity in this area, and ultimately its effect on revenue.”

So, what are the key take-outs for marketers?

1. Social is more than marcomms and is challenging organisations

Social is helping to bring the voice of the consumer to the heart of the organisation. It is broadening the definition of media and blurring the traditional lines of responsibility for marketing and insight, operating as a communication channel, a service delivery platform and a source of insight. As an ‘always-on’ channel it is challenging the concept of a campaign with a clear start and end.

2. Social is changing the way we measure – its evaluation is more than a dashboard

Social brings real-time feedback, meaning that the evaluation process can be integrated with each stage of campaign management from strategy, targeting, content development, delivery and evaluation. Increasingly, faster learning will lead to a greater emphasis on predictive benchmarks and not just metrics and dashboards, and to organisations adopting a much broader culture of test-and-learn.

3. Avoid a siloed approach to social measurement

Social tends to work in conjunction with other media. Planning and evaluation stages need to be integrated with other channels in order to maximise its benefits, establish its value, and be more trusted as a mainstream option. This is equally true of evaluating Paid, Owned and Earned social media where the success of Owned and especially Earned is often a product of Paid and interaction with other media. A crucial objective of evaluating social is to understand how it works with other marketing at all stages of the consumer journey.

4. It is easy to overestimate the value of earned media and influencers

Accurately measuring causality for earned media is hard. Even with some of the most sophisticated statistical techniques, it is easy to see a causal link when in reality there is only correlation. Another reason to cultivate a broad test and learn culture.

5. The commercial value of social will increasingly lie in the richness of its data

Current methods of collection and analytics are not fully mature. Two areas in particular have further potential: sentiment analysis and Social CRM. Sentiment analysis will never be 100% accurate, but improvements in algorithms and data collection, will allow the signal to be stronger and more reliable. For Social CRM, given the potentially clearer value exchange for customers in offering personal social data, these data sets could be part of a gateway into much richer insight across an organisation.

6. Social can learn from traditional planning

The best way to make use of the new opportunities presented by social is to ground them in what is already known about campaign measurement, for example, linking to objectives, based on clear assumptions, using comparable metrics. Measurement processes are effective when baked in from the start, not added retrospectively.

7. Even the short-term results need a long-term context

One of the benefits of social is that it provides real-time measures which can be used to adjust and optimise activities. However, marketers need to recognise and account for the difference between short-term and long-term success in their measurement strategy. IPA study The Long and the Short of it has shown that key factors such as profitability and loyalty result from long-term effects, not simply cumulatively from short-term successes.

To find out more about the new guide and the brand case studies, visit the IPA website.

 

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