Find Your Marketing North Star With Social Media Monitoring

by Eric Melin on February 6, 2013

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Marketers are continually challenged with finding ways to measure their social media programs and digital marketing campaigns.

There are a ton of different metrics out there, but the most important thing that marketers and analysts can do is find that critical correlation between the right metrics that comes together to tell the story — that “north star,” as it were, that will guide your strategy and action going forward.

An article I ran across on Time’s Swampland blog about politics and the economy spells this out even more clearly. It’s called The Most Important Chart in American Politics, and it’s above. The chart identifies the single most crucial piece of President Obama’s 20012 re-election campaign: his political north star.

There are three lines mapped out across a timeline of the last two decades:

“The first two lines — productivity and per capita gross domestic product — are rising. This is the unmistakable American success story, the one reflected in record corporate profits, growing wealth accumulation and the unmatched efficiency of this country’s economy. The third line tracks median household income, as measured by the U.S. Census. It shows the story of frustration and stagnation that so many Americans long ago accepted as a reality.”

It is crystal clear when looking at the chart that the third line diverged from the first two after the year 2000. You could fill up a book debating the causes of that divergence, but the end result is an unmistakable political takeaway: “Much of the U.S. stopped feeling the benefits of a growing national economy.”

How This Applies to Social Media Measurement

Are the takeaways of social media marketing always that clear? No. If they were, we wouldn’t be seeing survey results like this. When measuring social media success, brands are faced with an overwhelming amount of metrics.

  • There’s what we call platform-specific metrics: likes, shares, followers, retweets, views, re-pins, +1s, etc.
  • There’s backend measurements from your company website: page views, time spent on site, popular posts, keyword searches, conversion rates, etc.
  • There’s the more advanced web monitoring measurements that a tool like Spiral16 offers: volume of mentions, sentiment activity, site type distribution, top domains, top authors, most-used words, link spread, and influence measurement, etc.
  • Then there are business metrics: total sales, new customers acquired, cost per transaction, number of qualified leads, number of customer service problems resolved, etc.

Business metrics are financial, while web metrics are NOT. The trick is to correlate the two in a meaningful way — like the “political north star” chart above.

If your volume of mentions and positive sentiment spike at the same time, there’s a reason for that. (Click to enlarge.)

It’s not always easy, but if you clearly laid out your goals for the program ahead of time, it’s easier. Not every measurement will be valuable. Ignore the ones that don’t pertain to your goals.

Compare your pre-campaign benchmark data to the data that you collect in realtime as the campaign continues. Where are the commonalities? Where are the divergences?

The moment you see a correlation, especially during the same time frame, it’s time to dig deeper and find out why. Then you’ll find your north star. Use the insight you get from this to inform all of your marketing going forward!


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