Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement


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In a webcast co-hosted by the AMA and SAS, presenters described three areas of focus for using social media, and the five best practices for being effective in social media. This paper provides a summary of that webcast.

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Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement

  1. 1. CONCLUSIONS PaperFive Best Practices forSocial Media MeasurementHow to link social media metricsto business resultsInsights from the webinar, Less Talk + More Action = Better Results, inthe Measure What Matters: Redefining Marketing Success in the DigitalAge series, presented in association with the American MarketingAssociation and SASFeaturing:Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of KDPaine & PartnersJohn Bastone, Global Customer and Media Intelligence Managerat SAS
  2. 2. Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement If there’s anyone out there who still believes social media doesn’t warrant serious consideration, consider some basic facts: There are more than 750 million active users on Facebook, 140 million unique visitors to the site each month, 200 million registered Twitter users, and more than 100 million ■ If anyone still believes social media professionals on LinkedIn. is just an online playground for That’s just for starters. In addition to social networking sites, there are blogs, egocentric chatter, look at the role comments on traditional media and e-commerce websites, review sites such that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as ConsumerSearch and Epinion, content-sharing sites such as YouTube and have played in mobilizing protests Flickr, and collaborative projects such as Wikipedia. in the Arab revolutions of late. The ability to connect and communicate Nearly half of Americans now get their news from the Web. One in five reads blogs. More than 80 percent of Americans use social media in some fashion over new media has even reshaped each month. the dynamics of international rebellion, so just think what it might Some of those people just might be talking about your brand – and your do for your business. competition. Some may be ambassadors and advocates, or they may just as easily be detractors and malcontents – but all their voices are in the mix, shaping customers’ buying decisions. Who would want to ignore it? However, in this age of accountability, can you be sure that investments in social media are worth it? Can you prove the bottom-line value of this ephemeral new media? ■ “Social media is the preferred contact channel for many people these days. A lot of outbound marketing and sales effort happensSocial Media: Driving Profits or Just Popularity? through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. More than half of my“Accountability has never been more important in marketing,” said John Bastone, clients never respond to an emailGlobal Customer and Media Intelligence Manager at SAS. “It isn’t just about increasing but will respond immediately to aawareness anymore; it’s about what we are doing to drive profitable revenue growth.In my role at SAS, I speak to a lot of customers and at a lot of conferences about Facebook comment, message orthe benefits of data-driven insights across a wide spectrum of technologies, such as tweet. Call a client by phone, and itcampaign management, search engine optimization or Web analytics. Nothing has might take three days for a returngenerated more buzz – or brought more scrutiny – than the topic of social media, call, but that same client mightspecifically how to get more value out of that channel.” respond immediately on Twitter.”Organizations often do not reap the value they should from social media, for Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partnersseveral reasons:• It is not being used very effectively. In an informal webcast poll, nearly 60 percent of audience members said their organizations are ineffective in their use of social media. Another third think they’re getting there. Only one in 10 claimed their organizations were doing a good job of it. 1
  3. 3. Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement Those figures align with the results of a recent survey of more 2,100 senior marketers, conducted by SAS with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action, October 2010). The study found that the use of social media was stronger in certain segments – such as retail, organizations with more than 10,000 employees, and the computer services and professional services sectors.• Risks are magnified on social media. Bad practices in traditional media marketing are just as bad on social media – except the mistakes can reach more people faster and create more damage. Consider Kenneth Cole’s misstep in a widely derided tweet about unrest in Egypt. Or Edelman and Wal-Mart’s gaffes in creating fake blogs. Or the pervasive habit among marketers to use social media for screaming without listening.• Social media has been mostly about intangible effects. When asked to name the primary benefits social media has brought to their organizations, most respondents in the study pointed to increased awareness, website traffic and favorable perceptions of the organization.Awareness. Hits. Happy thoughts. That’s all fine and well. It’s gratifying if consumers“like” you. But do they buy? Do they recommend? Does all this awareness, websitetraffic and goodwill translate into dollars and profits?For most organizations, the answer is, “Hmm, we don’t really know.” In a webcast poll,70 percent of respondents said their organizations did a poor job linking social mediaefforts to profits. When asked the most pressing challenges they face or anticipatefacing with social media, shortfalls in this area topped the multiple-choice list:• 41 percent — Understanding the potential of social media to make a difference in the business.• 40 percent — Measuring the effectiveness of social media activities.• 31 percent — Linking social media activities to an impact on company financials and/or ROI.No surprises there, said Bastone. “Organizations realize the benefits of social media asit relates to awareness, but now the question is how to link this to tangible value in thecompany in a way that starts to justify the investment.”Becoming Effective with Social Media:Three Areas of FocusTo evolve from “ineffective” to “effective” in social media requires organizations tofocus on three areas, said Bastone: listening to the conversations that are out there,processing the structured and unstructured (text) data available from social mediachannels – and then doing something about it.2
  4. 4. Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement1. ListenOrganizations need to grow a bigger set of ears, said Bastone, borrowing the phrasefrom colleague and social media guru Chris Brogan. “If you want to find out what ■ “Being in the public domain, socialcustomers think about you, there’s a ton of data out there on message boards, review media conversations represent asites and discussion forums. You need to become more aware of these alternate resource-rich source of customersources and pull them into your monitoring efforts. At the same time, you need to be information – as well as a goodable to filter out the irrelevant content in a very standard, repeatable way.” source of competitive information.”Use social media scanning tools to find out what people are saying. Listen for public John Bastone, Global Customer and Media Intelligencerelations opportunities, marketing opportunities and customer service needs. Track Manager at SASthe sentiments in conversations. Align all of this to internal metrics. For example, howmany customer service complaints are you finding via the Web?Look deeper than the conversations du jour, Bastone advised: “It’s not enoughto listen to just the last seven days or 30 days of commentary. Your listening andmeasurement efforts should start to accumulate a year or two years of sentiment,so you can see trends and understand whether a shift in sentiment is significant orseasonal.”2. ProcessTaken at face value, the social media data you collect will be only marginally useful –just figures that tell you what was, but not necessarily what that means, or what to doabout it. With analytics, this data can be processed to deliver useful insight:• Descriptive statistics clarify activity and trends, such as how many followers you have, how many reviews were generated on Facebook, and which channels are being used most often.• Social network analysis follows the links between friends, fans and followers to identify connections of influence as well as the biggest sources of influence.• Text analytics examine the content in online conversations to identify themes, sentiments and connections that would not be revealed by casual surveillance.The text analytics part of it is an emerging science with exciting potential. This piecealone has several elements to it:• Content categorization. The system scans social media content and organizes it into logical categories, said Bastone. “You’d want to be able to say, ‘This is a public relations thread that deals with corporate reputation,’ versus ‘This is a customer service thread that deals with issues of customer satisfaction.’ Organizing content by category is a core piece in being able to triage conversations for routing to the appropriate people in an organization.” 3
  5. 5. Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement• Text mining. In the same way that you can use data mining to explore data in your databases and establish relationships, you can now do the same thing to all those unstructured text documents. You can dig around in volumes of emails, Facebook comments, consumer reviews and more, and look for themes, connected concepts and volumes of conversation. “Visualization tools make it easy to see what people are talking about right now, what issues are hot and which are not,” said Bastone. “So you don’t necessarily have to know what you’re looking for, to understand what is important right now.”• Sentiment analysis. This form of natural language processing looks at how people use words and phrases in context, and then assigns a sentiment – positive, negative or neutral – based on the words people use. You can classify and categorize the sentiments in online content, look at trends over time, and see significant differences in the way people speak either positively or negatively about you – and your competition.3. RespondThere are two elements to this: responding internally and externally.Share with your audience. Comment on blogs and participate in conversations –and not just to hawk your product or service. Be visible, be where the communityis, answer questions, reply to emails, offer help, funnel complaints into the customerservice workflow, and build relationships with bloggers. Publish useful, informationaland responsive content via blogs, online newsletters, photos, slide decks and videos.Act and adapt. Insights from social media should be embedded in businessprocesses, said Bastone. “All this listening and processing are ultimately about beingin a better position to acknowledge and respond to issues that are coming in throughsocial channels in real time or near-real time, being able to change your underlyingbusiness processes in response to positive and negative sentiment that’s coming inthrough your social channels, and ultimately integrating that into everything you do.”Five Best Practices to Get the Most from SocialMedia Measurement1. Consider all the ways social media can drive profits.“Social media as a channel tends to be most strongly aligned with marketing ormarketing communications,” said Bastone, “but its impact is reverberating across theenterprise. Many different groups have a vested interest.”4
  6. 6. Five Best Practices for Social Media MeasurementThe most obvious business functions that can benefit from social mediatracking include:• Online media analysis. Where are consumers talking about you? How is volume trending? Who are the most influential sources? Which sites are more positive? ■ “Some online conversations are Negative? relevant to marketing, public relations and sales, but just as• Brand and market tracking. What do consumers say about your brand, your many are relevant to customer products and your competition? What is the impact of these discussions? Who service, competitive intelligence, are the influencers? human resources, investor relations, product development – or anywhere• Public relations and reputation tracking. What are online journalists and else in the organization where it’s bloggers saying about your organization? What is the threat to your reputation? meaningful to listen to customers.” Where are the opportunities to build advocacy? Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners• Customer feedback management. How do perceptions voiced on social media compare to direct customer feedback from other sources? Are there issues that require response or resolution?The key is to create business processes whereby information from social media istranslated into action. Customer complaints should be funneled to a customer carecenter. An identified need can be routed to a sales contact. An influential blogger canbe referred to the public relations department as a potential new media contact.2. Know what you want out of social media.Define the R in your ROI. To be able to prove the ROI, you have to have a tangiblebusiness goal to begin with, said Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners.What is the return that you’re hoping to deliver? Why are you doing this? What is theproblem you are trying to solve?Define the audience. Who are you really trying to reach? It’s one thing to go out thereand reach 57 million people, but that’s not very meaningful if those 57 million peopleare not really your target market. Home Depot may reach the world with their socialmedia presence, but if the closest Home Depot store is 70 miles away, you’ve got tohave a lot of loyalty and engagement to win that part of the audience as customers.“You need to be brutally honest about your target audience and whether you are infact reaching them,” said Paine.Establish benchmarks. “Everyone tears their hair out and says, ‘There are nobenchmarks in social media.’ But that’s not really true; there are. There’s always yourcompetition – your peers – that you can benchmark against,” said Paine. Instead ofasking how much positive sentiment you have, you’d want to know your share ofpositive sentiment amid all positive sentiment in the marketplace. Conversely, if yourbusiness operates in a controversial area, you could gauge your relative - rather thanabsolute - share of negative sentiment. 5
  7. 7. Five Best Practices for Social Media MeasurementDefine your Kick Butt Index. “What do your bosses define as ‘kicking butt?’” askedPaine. Find out what causes them to say “Congratulations, you are really kicking buttout there,” or “Hey, we’re really getting our butt kicked.” What are those metrics? Ifexecutives agree to this up front, you have a tangible way of proving the value later, ■ “The first thing you have got tosaid Paine: “You can say, ‘We agreed the metric we were going to be judged on was understand is this: It’s not about you.cost per new customer acquired. That number was $67 a year ago; it is $37 today, soI am in fact kicking butt.’” Too many marketers think social media is basically just another way to get the word out, when in fact it’s a3. Make it a two-way conversation. very different entity. The entity is the conversation.”“Marketers are having to make an adjustment to account for the fact that the ‘social’part of social media demands a give and take,” said Bastone. “As online conversations Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partnersabout your business are happening, you need to not just talk about yourself, butengage people in a two-way conversation.”Paine agreed: “The first thing you have got to understand is this: It’s not about you.Too many marketers think social media is basically just another way to get the wordout, when in fact it’s a very different entity. The entity is the conversation.”There are lots of ways to use social media not just as a way to get the word outthere, but to touch customers and interact in ways that you couldn’t do before, saidPaine. Savvy marketers will use social media to engage customers with the brand ona personal level, conduct customer meetings, gather feedback through surveys andfocus groups, and identify opportunities for business development.When Paine posted on Facebook that she was planning to build a brick walkway thatweekend, she received a comment from Home Depot with a link to an instructionalvideo about how to build brick walkways. By offering to help as a trusted advisor –rather than making an overt sales pitch – Home Depot ended up scoring the bricks-and-mortar sale … literally.4. Forget about impressions and hits.“For too long, we have been focused on counting eyeballs, and there is no way tocount eyeballs effectively, consistently, or accurately in social media,” said Paine. “Sojust give it up.”Half of your Twitter followers are robo-followers; they’re not real anyway. You may knowhow many people like your Facebook page, but how many are paying any attention towhat you post there? Even the sites/services that track hits, visitors and impressionsare doing it inconsistently.“I say ‘hits’ stands for ‘how idiots track success,’” said Paine. “If all you’re doing iscounting hits, you’re not tracking anything that is meaningful in today’s marketplace.”6
  8. 8. Five Best Practices for Social Media MeasurementPaine defined a five-level hierarchy of measurements, with each tier offeringprogressively more engagement – a more meaningful measure of how well you’redoing with social media. ■ “f you just take the customer IAt the lowest level are the simple, descriptive facts comparable to “impressions” in satisfaction score – ‘Did you like thetraditional media: how many followers, friends, likes, visitors, hits, comments, etc.“Impressions are a zero level of engagement,” said Paine. “You don’t care how many lobby?’ ‘Did you like the guest room?’eyeballs you reach; you care what those eyeballs have done,” which brings us to the – guests may not be able to pinpointnext level. the thing that made them feel that way. If you are evaluating the design through“Did they go to your site? Did they click through from the link you gave them? I classifylikes as a Level 1, because it’s so easy to hit that like button,” said Paine. “My metric some kind of analysis, you needis not how many likes there are, but how many likes there are relative to how many specifics about what is creating thatpeople actually engaged in conversations on the site. Maybe 98,000 are likes, but if perception, and that’s challenging.”only 20 or 30 people are actually engaging in conversations, that’s not exactly a high Stephani Robson, PhD,level of engagement.” Senior Lecturer, Cornell School of Hotel AdministrationMost organizations are measuring at the more participatory Level 2 or 3, said Paine.“If you are really good at getting engagement levels up there, you’ll get people whoretweet, repeat comments and share posts. That’s a very high level of engagement.Ultimately (Level 4) you want their identity; you want them to register in some form, saynice things about your brand, and (Level 5) make a purchase and recommend you toothers.”As you move up the levels, the numbers will likely be small for now. It’s importantto set management expectations appropriately. The absolute numbers – how manyclick-throughs or visitors – are not nearly as important as what percentage of peopleare moving up the levels. From month to month, as social media followers and friendsmove from Level 1 to Level 2 and up, you’ll know how well you are doing in gettingpeople to engage with the brand. 7
  9. 9. Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement5. Blend social media data with internal data.“Social media is a hot channel for understanding and interpreting online conversations,but it isn’t the only source of conversations,” Bastone noted. “If you really want toevaluate sentiment, conversations, topics, what people care about or don’t care about,it doesn’t make sense to analyze social conversations in one silo and other customercommunications in a completely different silo.“It gets really interesting when you start to blend social media data with internal data,such as the sentiment captured from call centers, surveys, customer service records,behavioral data, online chat and customer emails.” Supplement with external customerresearch, brand research and Web analytics to create an even richer view of thecustomer.“Bringing this all together gives you a common lens to understand customerconversations and sentiment – and a much better handle on leading indicators,” saidBastone. “If an uptick happens across channels, that is a more reliable insight” to useas the basis for forecasting and other business decisions.Closing ThoughtsMarketers talk about “going where the fish are,” but traditional methods are notoriouslyinefficient for getting there, said Paine.First, there’s demographics. “You say, ‘OK, I have a fish that is this long and this wideand purple, and I know that statistically, 70 percent of all women between the agesof 18 and 55 like this particular fish.’ Then you send them an email or a junk mail orsomething. The reality is that they don’t care. They really don’t care. Consider this:• 44 percent of junk mail goes into landfills unopened.• Response rates of less than 0.25 percent are now considered acceptable.• On average, less than 1 percent of all emails are opened and acted upon.So using demographics is not a very efficient way to reach your target audience.”What about traditional mass media? Inefficient fishing as well, says Paine. Supposeyou run a lawn care company that puts an ad in a paper that reaches 50,000 peoplein a geographic area. You’ll reach potential customers who are so far away that, withthe high price of gas these days, you’d be losing money on their business. Amongcustomers within a certain radius, perhaps half don’t even have lawns, and half ofthe remaining prospects actually prefer to mow their own lawns. Ultimately the targetmarket is a small subset of the larger audience you paid good advertising moneyto reach.8
  10. 10. Five Best Practices for Social Media Measurement“In reality, you want to help the people whose lawns are unkempt,” said Paine.“You’d want to drive around the neighborhood and just contact people whose ■ “There are technology solutionslawns are a mess and say, ‘I can help you.’ That’s what engagement in social media that sift through huge volumesenables you to do. It enables you to identify somebody who has a problem, and earn of online conversations, parsetheir trust and loyalty.” textual data to discern sentiment and share of conversation, mapIf you do that well with social media, can you prove it? Yes. Thanks to new search sentiment to business issues andand analysis tools created for social media, you can connect click-throughs that lead track click-through paths to yourto sales. You can track changes in sentiment in discussions about your organization. website. These tools are enablingYou can correlate sales to social media channels and campaigns. You can show the progressive companies to do a veryROI. good job in showing the ROI.” John Bastone,“Conversations have always been going on – around the water cooler, in front of the Global Customer and Media Intelligencetelevision set, and in the aisles of your grocery store and everywhere on the planet,” Manager at SASsaid Paine. “They’ve always been going on, it’s just that we never were able to trackthem before. Now we can.”About the PresentersKatie Delahaye Paine,CEO of KDPaine PartnersKatie Paine is the CEO and founder of KDPaine Partners LLC and author ofMeasuring Public Relationships: The Data-Driven Communicator’s Guide to Successand The Complete How-To Guide to Measuring Social Media. Paine also writes thefirst blog and first newsletter dedicated entirely to measurement and accountability.In the last two decades, she and her firm have listened to millions of conversations,analyzed thousands of articles, and asked hundreds of questions in order to helpher clients better understand their relationships with their constituencies. Learn moreabout Paine at Bastone,Global Customer and Media Intelligence Manager at SASJohn Bastone is an integral part of SAS’ Global Customer Intelligence ProductMarketing organization. With more than 15 years of experience performing marketing,computer programming, consulting and analytics roles for companies such as VerizonData Services and Catalina Marketing, his areas of expertise are behavior-basedmarketing and social media analytics. Learn more about Bastone 9
  11. 11. Five Best Practices for Social Media MeasurementTo view the on-demand recording of the webcast: more on SAS® Social Media Analytics: view other AMA webcasts: view the SAS and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services research paper, TheNew Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action:
  12. 12. SAS Institute Inc. World Headquarters   +1 919 677 8000To contact your local SAS office, please visit: and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USAand other countries. ® indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.Copyright © 2011, SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved. 105375_S75075.0911