Measuring Social Media: Exclusive Interview with Omniture
Measuring the impact of social media on an organisation’s brand has become a key consideration for marketers in recent years. New Media Knowledge spoke to one measurement specialist to get a steer on best practice.
The explosion in popularity in the last few years of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo has left marketing managers scrambling to keep up. While social networks offer incredible access to potential customers and insight into the ‘buzz’ generated around brands and products, they also present a challenge to tap into.
One of the key concerns for marketing managers when launching a social media programme is measuring the impact of the campaign. NMK met up with Neil Morgan from social media measurement specialist Omniture, which has more than 1,000 customers in Europe including the BBC, John Lewis and Lastminute.com, to get some pointers on best practice.
Neil Morgan, Omniture
“Measurement of the return on investment of social media is cited among the top factors inhibiting [social media’s] use as a legitimate marketing vehicle,” Morgan told NMK. “People just don’t understand what they will get out of treating it proactively. As with all other forms of digital marketing before it, the answer has to start with measurement.”
According to Morgan, a good place to start measuring social media is to break it down into the three main subgroups - Social News (Digg, Twitter), User Generated Content (YouTube, Flickr) and social networking sites (Facebook, Bebo).
“The commonly held perception is that some of the most effective social media tactics such as users’ reviews, ratings, blogs and forms, are the least measurable when the reality today is that they are not,” Morgan said. “It is absolutely possible to anonymously measure the impact of users making recommendations on social media sites like Facebook, or rating products on your own site, and then attribute that back to actual sales.”
Simple things that can be measured by social media include how much they influence an organisation’s share of voice in the market in which it operates, according to Morgan. But companies can also see how they impact their businesses.
“If you are publishing content you can move to track what types of content most interest social media visitors; be that editorial, photos, ratings and so on. Then you can move to track the proportion of total site visits driven from social media sites.”
Measuring Twitter and Facebook
Microblogging site Twitter grew 965 per cent year-on-year and is forecast to have between 80-100 million users soon. Morgan believes there are four ways that companies can use Twitter to help their marketing efforts:
- Brand Monitoring: How is my brand perceived by customers?
- Service Recovery: To quickly address service issues as they occur, improve customer experience
- Voice of Customer: Which products or services are important to customers?
- Product Promotions: Actively promote products or services to followers
Morgan recommends a number of key steps to measure brand impact on Twitter.
“Firstly, filter tweets for specific keywords such as phrases, company or product name,” he advised. “Set alerts to notify employees of significant changes in tweet activity – for example, we saw a ten-fold increase in tweet activity during our annual customer conference and used it as an immediate source of feedback. Group authors by brand status to identify brand detractors and advocates.”
Marketers also want to know how consumers are interacting with their Facebook applications and how those apps are impacting campaign performance. Omniture recently introduced App Measurement for Facebook to enable marketers to gain insight into the correlation or relationship between Facebook apps and other online channels such as web, mobile and video.
So just who should be in charge of social media measurement? Surveys have shown that most social media programmes are being driven by in-house marketing or PR people. Morgan believes that in-house control is critical to social media success.
“Whilst creatively you may want to get external agencies in to share their expertise for social media marketing we think it’s essential to keep the measurement and optimisation in-house,” Morgan said. “This way you will track the impact of social media campaigns the same way you do for other marketing, making it directly comparable. Then it’s easy to determine its impact and how much budget to allocate to it.”
Final Word of Warning
Social media allows businesses to interact with their customers, partners and employees, providing a crucial communication channel with the business ecosystem, but needs to be handled with perspective, Morgan warns.
“To use social media effectively you shouldn’t assume a base level of positive comment. Equally that means negative comment isn’t always reason for concern,” he said. “If there’s one person on Twitter sounding off and they have just ten followers, it’s safe to assume that will simply be lost in the inconsequential noise of social media. If it’s Stephen Fry complaining to 660,000 followers, you might like to take it a little more seriously. Much of that kind of judgement call has been commonplace among brand managers for years. All that has changed is the scale, reach and media.”
Morgan concluded: “Sentiment is not an exact science and is difficult to measure. Ultimately the most meaningful measures are engagement and conversions – how many people are driven to a website, product or service as a direct result of conversations on social media. This means looking at referring sites and what that traffic does. Does negative comment drive traffic looking for information, while positive comment drives traffic looking to transactions?”