Can’t touch this — can social results be tangible?
by Kathryn McConnachie (@KathMcConnachie) What’s that sound? Listen carefully. There it is again — the sound of social media marketers across the country doing a collective tap dance to demonstrate their value to clients every month during the reporting cycle. Some even put on a special performance for clients who request an interpretive dance called “Show us how social drives offline sales”. It’s quite something to behold.
Spoiler alert: It usually involves impressively large leaps to tenuous conclusions.
Can’t track that
Measuring social performance through sales is possible when linked to ecommerce and a digital path to purchase with trackable touchpoints. It’s decidedly more complex when that’s not an option.
As measurable as social is, this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror. There are touchpoints in the path to purchase that aren’t trackable. While social can sway a customer to ultimately buy a product in store, without being able to track that person’s thought process, you won’t know for sure. It could just as well have been the positioning of the product on the shelf, the recommendation of a friend, or because Mercury was in retrograde.
There’s no data point (unless you’re doing digital coupon redemption or a consumer poll) that will give you a definitive answer that A led to B when it comes to offline conversions. So, when sales aren’t an option, how else can we make social results tangible and show real value?
Know what success looks like
If you find yourself doing interpretive dance in reporting meetings with clients, it’s probably because you’re on different pages about what success on social looks like. Sign off realistic, measurable goals which are tied to business objectives upfront. Be clear when sales can’t be a direct goal.
Set goals for social to be tracked through actual actions such as email signups, downloads, enquiries and reviews. If you don’t control the conversion phase in the consumer journey, get better at quantifying awareness and consideration through these types of metrics.
If a client’s obsessed with sales, they may also need to be reminded that the customer journey doesn’t end there. Social is key on the other side of the sales funnel, especially when it comes to customer retention, loyalty and advocacy. These all can, and should, be tracked in social reporting.
Turn your audience into a database
If your efforts are limited to social platforms alone, no matter how big your audience is, it will remain a mostly anonymous entity apart from some basic demographic data. Add value by turning that anonymous following into a smart database of existing and potential customers through strategic lead-generation campaigns.
Getting followers to give you their email addresses shows a much-higher degree of intent and genuine interest in the brand — getting closer to conversion. Even if your client doesn’t have an existing CRM tool to plug this database into, you can use it to better refine your social targeting. Build lookalike audiences from your databases to significantly improve the targeting and efficiency of media spend (a language all clients understand).
Track behaviour beyond social
Social clickthroughs mean very little without being able to track what’s happening on the other side of the click. Unlock business insights by marrying social data with Google Analytics. Even the simplest, user-friendly website with product information, where to buy and a contact form can help shift your understanding of customer intent to make more-informed decisions for social.
You can’t know the value of a follower who never comments on or publicly shares your content. But, if that same user clicks through to your website from social, where you have Facebook Pixel installed, you’re able to understand so much more about them and unlock the power of remarketing and personalisation in your social strategy.
Quantify customer service
Social media has become the go-to channel for customer service. Don’t let the customer conversations you’re managing daily (even hourly) be reduced to a single data point, such as page engagement, in a report. Properly track and quantify these interactions.
Keep a record of patterns in consumer interactions — good, bad, bad-turned-good. Every meaningful conversation with a customer should be valued by a client — some even as much as a sale. For brands without direct-to-consumer sales channels, social is as close as they can get to their consumers, so make it count.
Showing value from social is simple when you stop trying to make tenuous connections that can’t be backed by data. Report on actions, rather than assumptions, and the value of what you do will be clear. No interpretive dance or spirit fingers needed.
- Five tips for effective performance marketing on Facebook — Skye Littlefield
Kathryn McConnachie (@KathMcConnachie) is the creative director at Retroviral Digital Communications. A journalist and digital media editor turned copywriter, she’s crafted multiple award-winning digital strategies and campaigns across industries. If she doesn’t tell you what she thinks of an idea, her eyebrows will. Gif game: Very strong.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.