After years of increases, social media spending declined in 2019.
The CMO Survey saw a drop in social media spending to 11 percent of marketing budgets from a high of 14 percent in 2018. Why? The authors suggest, “… despite massive financial investments, social media is rated as contributing only moderate value to company performance (3.3 on a scale where 7=very highly and 1=not at all).”
If you’re not confident in social media’s return on investment (ROI), it will only get harder to securefunding for social media budgets. How can you improve this confidence? Ensure you have a strong measurement plan in place to better prove social media’s impact on the bottom line.
Start with business objectives not social tactics:
In creating a social media strategy, it is easy to start with social media tactics. You ask questions like, “How can we improve our Facebook page?” So you develop strategies to improve engagement on Facebook and you increase likes, shares and comments. Yet having a better Facebook page is not a business objective. That is why it gets hard when management asks how Facebook Likes contribute to the bottom line.
Having a measurement plan ensures you start with your business objectives (what impacts the bottom line) first. From there, you create strategies and tactics (current and new) to help get to those objectives. Then you determine how those outcomes will be measured through KPIs (metrics) tied to micro- and macro-conversions.
How to define business objectives:
The objective of most business’s is to increase sales, but each organization’s situation is unique and requires a much more nuanced definition. Insight can come from a situation analysis or the reason you are creating a new strategy. There is often a problem or opportunity that has become the focus of marketing efforts creating the story of your plan. The CMO Survey reports marketer’s see social media as a tool to help accomplish the following business objectives:
- Brand awareness/brand building
- Introducing new products/services
- Acquiring new customers
- Brand promotions (contest/coupons)
- Retaining current customers
- Improving customer service
- Improving employee engagement
- Marketing research
- Identifying new customer groups
- Identifying new product/service opportunities
- Improving current products/services
Identify strategies to meet business objectives:
Most social media plans have multiple strategies or ways to improve brand efforts and help to meet business objectives. List all your strategies such as an influencer marketing campaign, a special offer, an employee advocacy effort, or branding social media ads.
Identify tactics used to support key strategies:
List the main tactics that support each strategy. For example, a business objective to increase sales to a new market may have a brand awareness strategy supported by a tactic of targeted Facebook ads, a tactic of influencer marketing on Instagram, and a tactic of employee advocacy on LinkedIn.
List measurable conversions by tactic and strategy:
List measurable actions users take to fulfill your business objectives. They can take the form of macro-conversions and micro-conversions. Macro-conversions are the key actions closest to business objectives such as an online sale. Micro-conversions are the smaller actions that move a prospect closer such as visiting web pages, signing up for a newsletter, down loading an app, or following a social media page.
Connect macro-conversions to business objectives:
Link social media metric KPIs by tactic and strategy to macro- and micro-conversions. Creating a dashboard of the KPIs for macro-conversions by tactic and strategy can be a top line report of social media’s contribution to company performance. Creating this in your digital measurement platform such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite, HubSpot, or Salesforce gives you real time access or the ability to schedule regular reports to share with management.
Measure micro-conversions to map the customer journey:
Identifying and measuring micro-conversions on the way to macro-conversion can map out customer journeys. Micro-conversions help you understand human behavior giving insight to optimize strategies and tactics. Analyze metrics by tactic KPI to determine how many people are completing the customer journey and where you are losing or retaining people. This does not mean you will map one journey for all or even most customers. Google click stream data of thousands of customers found no two journeys were alike – varying from 1-176 days and 65-600 touchpoints across categories, brands and products. The marketing funnel still applies, but consumers have more control and options in moving themselves from awareness and consideration to conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. Today it is more like a marketing scatter plot. The best you can do is optimize the touchpoint clusters around funnel stages and use CRM data for personalized content.
Conduct experiments to optimize strategies and tactics:
Having a good measurement plan that includes both micro- and macro-conversions enables you to know which tactics and strategies are contributing the most to company performance. From there you can experiment with different tactics and strategies replacing low performing ones to optimize social media. The results of a social media audit can help identify which strategies and tactics to experiment with first. While no two customer journeys are alike, your micro-conversion and macro-conversion data can identify clusters of touchpoints versus outliers. Focus optimization efforts where many of your customers engage in the funnel stages on their unique journey. Also, deliver custom messages through unique customer tracking such as Google Analytics User-ID.
The benefits of social media measurement plan:
Going through this process can take considerable time and effort. But once you have the plan in place the benefits are numerous. A social media measurement plan:
- Collects the right data to answer company performance questions.
- Creates reports or dashboards to share with decision makers.
- Allows analysis of segments of your social media plan.
- Enables testing different solutions to improve social efforts.
Do you have a social media measurement plan? What else could help improve marketer confidence in social media’s contribution to company performance?
This blog was written by West Virginia University Reed College of Media's Integrated Marketing Communications adjunct instructor Keith A. Quesenberry and was originally published on Post Control Marketing. Keith teaches IMC 619 - Emerging Media & the Market. If you're interested in requesting more information about WVU's Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program, we hope you'll do so today!