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Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter


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Social media contributes value to interactive marketing programs in many ways — but measuring
that value is difficult. The sheer volume of social media metrics can quickly become overwhelming
and distracting for key stakeholders. To keep your team focused, you must become the hub of
your company’s social media marketing reporting and create standardized reporting templates and
frequencies for different types of stakeholders: frequent reporting of digital metrics to community
managers and social media strategists, per-campaign or annual reporting of branding and trial metrics
to other marketing team members, and quarterly or annual reporting of financial metrics to executives

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Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter

  1. 1. Headquarters Forrester Research, Inc., 400 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA Tel: +1 617.613.6000 • Fax: +1 617.613.5000 • For Interactive Marketing Professionals Executive Summary Social media contributes value to interactive marketing programs in many ways — but measuring that value is difficult. The sheer volume of social media metrics can quickly become overwhelming and distracting for key stakeholders. To keep your team focused, you must become the hub of your company’s social media marketing reporting and create standardized reporting templates and frequencies for different types of stakeholders: frequent reporting of digital metrics to community managers and social media strategists, per-campaign or annual reporting of branding and trial metrics to other marketing team members, and quarterly or annual reporting of financial metrics to executives. Different roles need access to different types of social media metrics Social media marketing programs create an enormous volume of data: We’ve seen literally hundreds of metrics tracked by the marketers, agencies, vendors, and sites that use social media.1 In many cases these metrics are collected, evaluated, and distributed indiscriminately throughout organizations. However, not every metric actually matters to your business — and while your organization as a whole needs to track and understand all the different benefits of a social media program, not every individual member of your organization needs to focus on the same type of social media insight. We’ve identified three groups of stakeholders who regularly demand insight into the performance of social media marketing programs: 1) the social media strategists and community managers who implement social programs on a day-to-day basis; 2) the marketing managers and executives who need to know whether social programs create marketing value for the organization; and 3) the business-unit heads and C-level executives who must make decisions on social programs’ impact on the company’s bottom line (see Figure 1). Each of these groups should primarily focus on different: · Types of social media marketing metrics. The primary job function of each of these groups varies dramatically, and so should the social media metrics on which they focus. In our report “The ROI Of Social Media Marketing,” we introduced four key perspectives from which to view your social media programs: the digital perspective, the brand perspective, the financial perspective, and the risk management perspective.2 Each set of stakeholders must focus primarily on the perspective that helps them fulfill their own job objectives and responsibilities. February 22, 2011 Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter Communicating The Right Data To Different Internal Stakeholders by Nate Elliott with Emily Riley, Sarah Glass, and James McDavid
  2. 2. © 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedFebruary 22, 2011 2Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter For Interactive Marketing Professionals · Volumes and frequencies of social media marketing metrics. The staff who work on social media every day need immediate and granular data to see how to fix any problems or exploit any opportunities that arise — so they require a high volume of data at a high frequency. Conversely, top company executives may only closely study a handful of key social media financial metrics at budgeting time each year; this requires a much lower volume and frequency of reporting. Figure 1 Different Stakeholders Require Different Types Of Social Media Reporting Give Social-Specific Staff The Metrics To Build Healthy Social Media Marketing Programs Social media strategists and community managers have tactical responsibility for social media: They’re the people using these tools and interacting with fans and followers on a daily basis, and the ones who must build the strong platform on which a company’s social media success must be based. To help social staff track their progress in these objectives — and ultimately succeed — interactive marketing managers must provide these employees: · Metrics primarily focused on the digital perspective. It’s up to social strategists and community managers to build a strong social media opportunity (as measured by how many fans and followers, community members, or readers and viewers they can reach) and sufficient social media health (as measured by how much these fans participate with and talk about the brand online). While these metrics can’t tell a company if its social media programs were successful overall, without a social opportunity and social health a company will certainly fail. Source: Forrester Research, Inc.58444 Role Frequency Metrics Social strategists and community managers Interactive marketers and marketing executives C-level executives Hourly or daily Per campaign or annually Quarterly or annually Tools Listening platforms and web analytics vendors Surveys CRM tools, attribution tools, and surveys Social opportunity • Fans, friends, and followers • Members • Visitors and readers Perspective Digital Brand Financial Social health • Posts and comments • Sentiment Branding • Awareness • Brand attributes • Purchase intent Product trial • Lead generation • Coupon redemption • Sampling Sales • Conversions • Revenues • Lifetime values
  3. 3. © 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedFebruary 22, 2011 3Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter For Interactive Marketing Professionals · A high volume and frequency of metrics. Because these employees live and breathe social media — and because social media moves fast and never sleeps — these employees require the highest frequency and volume of social media metrics of any stakeholder group. To meet this need, Dell has constructed a social media control center that tracks hundreds of metrics from all over the world 24 hours a day — giving their community managers the ability to respond to both threats and opportunities in real time. · The tools they need to track those metrics. Most of the data that social media strategists and community managers need can be collected by observation. Listening platforms can track key digital metrics on public social media sites like Twitter and YouTube, while web analytics vendors play a crucial role in tracking digital metrics in owned social media properties like corporate blogs and company-hosted forums.3 Help Your Marketing Peers Turn Social Opportunity Into Branding And Trial Marketing staff — from marketing managers all the way up through VPs of marketing — have both tactical and strategic responsibilities for social media. They need the insight to see which tactics can help them build brand impact and drive sampling and other forms of trial, as well as data that guides them as they weave social media into their teams’ larger marketing strategies. To help the rest of your marketing team succeed on both counts, offer them: · Data primarily focused on the brand perspective. Brand metrics are nothing new for most experienced marketers: We’ve talked about brand awareness, ad recall, brand attributes, and intent to purchase for years. However, just 18% of US social media marketers say they use brand surveys to measure the impact of their programs. These metrics — along with the more- commonly tracked lead generation, sampling, and coupon redemption metrics — are vital to understanding if social media has helped your team achieve its marketing objectives. · A medium volume and a low frequency of reporting. Marketing teams don’t need access to nearly the same frequency of data as social staff — and can’t generate this type of data that frequently in any case. Lead and sample data is often reported on a monthly basis, while brand metrics can be tracked on a once-per-campaign basis as P&G did for its Secret brand’s “Let Her Jump” social media marketing program. Likewise, marketers need not track hundreds of interaction metrics but just the handful of key brand and trial metrics that match their goals. · Survey tools to collect brand impact data. Online branding surveys aren’t much fun to run — the prevalent control versus exposed methodology isn’t necessarily ideal, and finding ways to run survey invitations on social networks can be difficult — but there’s simply no other reliable way to collect information on how your audience’s opinions are changing. Marketers should either attach campaign-specific surveys to their key social programs or add questions to their annual brand surveys that let them identify customers who engaged with their social media efforts.
  4. 4. © 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction ProhibitedFebruary 22, 2011 4Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter For Interactive Marketing Professionals Help High-Level Executives Focus On Social Media’s Bottom-Line Impact Business-unit heads (such as product managers and sales leaders) and C-level executives (including CMOs) should view social media on a strategic rather than a tactical level. While many executives — especially those most excited by the potential of the channel — will be tempted to get involved in the day-to-day metrics of your social programs, it’s most important that interactive marketers give these executives access to the data that will help them secure budget for future social media programs and integrate social initiatives into the company’s overall strategies and operations. To accomplish this, interactive marketers must deliver these executives: · Metrics primarily focused on the financial perspective. These metrics cover both the positive economic impact of social media marketing programs (such as incremental sales) as well as how social media helps companies avoid expenses (including cost of marketing and risk management benefits). For instance, when Audi’s marketing team needed to prove the value of its “Next Big Social Thing” program to executives, it reported the number of pre-orders the program delivered.4 With this data in hand, executive sponsors of social media programs will be able to defend social programs and build social media into the organization’s regular budget. · A medium volume of reporting at a low frequency. The volume and frequency of data required by your executives are no lower than those required by your marketing team — only the nature of the data changes. Be prepared to report financial data to your executives quarterly, with a special focus on annual reporting to assist in budgeting. · CRM and attribution tools that can collect this data. Simple sales tracking can create this data — especially if you sell online or use advanced CRM to track online leads into offline sales — but many companies will also need to survey their buyers to find out if social played a role in the purchase cycle. Attribution vendors may also help you create this type of data, though their capabilities in measuring social media marketing remain immature. R ecomme n datio n s use education and standardized reporting to improve your team’s focus To help internal stakeholders focus on what really matters, interactive marketers who lead social media marketing programs must: · Become the home of all social media marketing metrics. As a marketer, you should primarily focus on the brand perspective to gauge if you’ve succeeded in your use of social media. But as the head of your company’s social media programs, you’ll also be the person the rest of the organization turns to for the social metrics they must focus on. Put the tools in place to measure all four perspectives of social media, and be prepared to distribute those metrics correctly throughout your organization — while keeping sight of which metrics matter most to your role.
  5. 5. 5Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter For Interactive Marketing Professionals Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology. Forrester works with professionals in 19 key roles at major companies providing proprietary research, customer insight, consulting, events, and peer-to-peer executive programs. For more than 27 years, Forrester has been making IT, marketing, and technology industry leaders successful every day. For more information, visit ©2011ForresterResearch,Inc.Allrightsreserved.Forrester,ForresterWave,RoleView,Technographics,TechRankings,andTotalEconomicImpactaretrademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Reproduction or sharing of this content in any form without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. To purchase reprints of this document, please email For additional reproduction and usage information, see Forrester’s Citation Policy located at Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. 58444 · Help your stakeholders integrate social media data into their other data sources. Start by asking your marketing peers and executives which metrics they’re generating from other channels — and then look for the social media marketing metrics that match. In most cases the answers will look like the map we’ve drawn above; but even if they don’t, the exercise will help you and your stakeholders focus on the handful of metrics that matter most. · Standardize different reports for different audiences. Now that you know who needs what metrics and how often, create standard report templates and frequencies to reflect these needs. For instance, UK agency We Are Social used to provide a regular dossier, dozens of pages long, to its clients. When it realized the marketing managers who received these reports didn’t need that depth of data, it started offering four-page reports instead. Remember that the report template for each stakeholder group may vary from project to project, depending on each project’s objective. And where possible, automate this reporting into stakeholders’existing dashboards. · Show each group how its success fits into the bigger social media picture. Yes, you must improve your stakeholders’focus when tracking social media programs. But your job isn’t to put metrics into absolute silos, it’s to make sure stakeholders focus on the metrics that can help them contribute to overall business success. So don’t hide broader metrics from the people in your organization — in fact, show them the big picture on a regular basis. Just make sure they spend most of their energy focusing on the numbers that can help them contribute to that picture. Endnotes 1 There are so many metrics you could measure that we separated them out into six categories: user reach, user impact, volume of participation, quality of participation, volume of energy, and quality of energy. See the October 29, 2009, “Three Steps To Measuring Social Media Marketing” report. 2 These four perspectives, combined, form what we call a “Balanced Social Media Marketing Scorecard.” See the July 16, 2010, “The ROI Of Social Media Marketing” report. 3 If you need to choose a listening platform or an analytics vendor, our Wave reports can help. See the July 12, 2010, “The Forrester Wave™: Listening Platforms, Q3 2010” report, and see the July 23, 2009, “The Forrester Wave™: Web Analytics, Q3 2009” report. 4 The chairman of Audi is focused on the right metrics; he proudly reports that this social media program contributed to “the largest number of pre-orders in the history of Audi.” Source: Audi, “Audi A1 — The Next Big Social Thing,” Forrester Groundswell Awards ( awards2010/detail.php?id=417).