Myths & Facts About Social Media Measurement

With all the buzz around social media marketing, more and more companies are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Social media offers a greater reach than some of the traditional online marketing channels, and enjoys fewer competition. Yet, there’s a lot of skepticism among some around social media marketing. The main roadblock that we’ve seen so far has been around measurement. Many companies still have the perception that social media is not measurable or that it can not be measured with the same standards as other online media. The following is a list of myths and facts about social media measurement.

Myth: I don’t pay for social media traffic. Since I don’t pay for it, I don’t need to measure it.

Fact: This is only a perception. The fact that you’re spending your resources – time and labor – means that you’re paying for social media traffic. True, there’s no cost-per-click model, but the mere fact that you’re spending time writing blogs, creating Facebook pages, responding to people’s requests or questions on Twitter means that you’re spending valuable resources on social media. Like any other activity, there’s an opportunity cost associated with your efforts – time you could be spending doing other things.

For example, if an employee costing the company $80,000 per year spends 10% of his/her time responding to blogs, Twitter posts, etc., then the cost of social media associated with that employee alone is $8,000 per year.

Myth: There’s no measurement standard when it comes to social media measurement.

Fact: There has been no shortage of measurements introduced when it comes to social media marketing – video views, sentiment metrics, advertising equivalency, etc. What’s important to note is that the same standards that have applied to PR measurement apply to social media as well. For years, PR professionals have classified the measurement of their activities in one of three buckets:

  • Outputs (who’s talking about you): this is the basic level of measurement needed. Mapping this to social media measurement, the metrics associated with this pillar are video views, number of RSS subscriptions, number of blog or news mentions, etc.
  • Outtake (what are they saying about you): this is the qualitative side of PR and social media measurement. Many brand managers use social media measurement for this aspect. The metrics associated with this pillar include qualitative measures such as “thumbs up”, “thumbs down”, measuring influence on Twitter or within the blogosphere, etc.
  • Outcome (what does it mean to your business): this is the ROI portion of the measurement. How much site traffic and conversions can be attributed to social media. Do visitors who viewed a YouTube video end up visiting the site? This is clearly the most critical aspect of social media measurement for online marketing professionals.

The same standards that have applied to PR measurement also apply to social media measurement.

Myth: You can’t measure the ROI of social media.

Fact: This is not true. This is exactly what Tealium Social Media has been designed to do. Whether you measure your results based on the amount of traffic generated on your site, number of leads generated and the online sales volume, social media can be measured accordingly. In fact, so far most of the interest from customers has been around using measurement to audit their social media and PR agencies. Yes, you can measure the ROI of your social media marketing.

Myth: I can’t compare social media to other online marketing channels.

Fact: Again, not true. By integrating data from Tealium Social Media into your web analytics tool you can measure the ROI of social media side by side with your other online marketing channels such as search, email and banner advertising. This means that you can in fact compare your social media traffic – traffic attributed to video sharing sites, bloggers and news coverages – to your paid marketing channels.

Yes, social media is measurable and because it’s still a new practice, this means less competition and therefore better ROI than other online channels. We are working on a number of case studies in this area and are looking forward to sharing our findings once completed. Stay tuned.

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