Using Metrics to Drive Social Media Campaigns: Part I

Social Media offers today’s businesses a highly visible touch point with customers, clients, and collaborators, and the savvy business owner understands the power of social media campaigns to drive new business in today’s connected world.

But how do you measure the effect that social media campaigns have on your bottom line?

Social media metrics provide the most effective way to assess campaigns and adjust them based on your findings. This two-part blog series serves as a guide for defining, assessing, and utilizing metrics in order to optimize social media campaigns for businesses. Part I focuses on defining and assessing the metrics, and Part II will use case studies to explore how marketers can adjust their approach based on these metrics.

I. Define the metrics
First, focus on the end goal of your social media campaign in defining your metrics. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Are you trying to increase conversions? Are you trying to optimize your marketing budget by tightening spend without sacrificing new business?

Some important metrics to consider depending on the goal of your social media campaign are:

1. Cost per acquisition (CPA)
This is defined as the amount spent in marketing dollars to get a single paying customer, and therefore applies to paid efforts on social media ((advertisements, sponsored updates and posts, etc.). In calculating CPA for social media, you can choose to include

i. Only those customers whose acquisition was directly attributable to your social media efforts, or
ii. All acquisitions over a specific time horizon in order to see how the number of total acquisitions compares to your overall marketing spend

This metric is fundamental to understanding the success of your social media campaign, and requires robust user tracking from engagement through acquisition. For example, if someone were to click on one of your Facebook posts and arrive to your website, would you be able to clearly see how they behave from that point all the way up until paying for the good or service that you are providing? This tracking can be achieved in a number of ways, and Google Analytics proves very helpful in calculating this metric.

2. User engagement metrics
These metrics, which are particularly helpful for awareness campaigns, can be both qualitative and quantitative in nature, and answer the question: how are people interacting with our social media efforts? User engagement metrics can come in a number of forms, including numbers of clicks, shares, “likes,” comments, and other actions that users can take. There are also two levels of user engagement that one can consider:

i. Page-level and account-level engagement metrics:
Year-over-year, month-over-month, or week-over-week, how are your social media pages and accounts performing? How many new “likes” have you acquired on your Facebook page this week vs. the previous week? How many Twitter followers have you acquired in the last month vs. the previous month? These are important questions to determine whether you are top-of-mind with your audience.

ii. Touch point-level engagement metrics:
For every specific effort—post, tweet, pin, update—how are customers and prospects responding? Are there certain kinds of posts that engage users more than others? In other words, should you use a different kind of language or media with the audience of one social media account? This granular level of analysis is essential to adjusting your social media strategy, increasing user engagement with each touch point, and growing overall page-level and account-level engagement for social media.

3. Website engagement metrics
For campaigns designed to drive people to websites—with the end goal of delivering information, e-commerce, promotion of an event, etc.—it will be important to look under the hood with Google Analytics to understand how social media users are interacting with your website. Some important website metrics to consider include:

• Users – the number of users who come to your website, as segmented by acquisition channel “Social”
• Bounce rate – the percent of users who leave your website after viewing only one page
• Pages per session – the number of pages viewed by user per session
• Session duration – the amount of time a user spends on your website
• % new sessions – the percent of sessions that come from users who are visiting your website for the first time
• Pages visited – are you sending users to the pages that will drive revenue for them?

II. Assess the metrics
There are several important questions to consider for each kind of metric we have outlined above, and in evaluating these metrics, it is important to define a time horizon and compare it to previous time horizons of the same length. Soon, you will find that the metrics begin to tell a story about your social media efforts—a story that can inform an action plan moving forward. The below questions serve as a guide for assessing the metrics of your social media campaign:

1. Simply, what is working? And what is not working?

a. Cost per acquisition
Has your CPA gone up or down for the current time horizon? What social media outreach efforts may have contributed to this observed change?
b. User engagement metrics
How many users have engaged with your page or account in the current time horizon? How does that compare to the previous time horizon? What are some ways to optimize your specific touch points to keep the momentum up? Should you change your approach to messaging, media, or touch point frequency?
c. Website engagement metrics
Once you have sent users to your website via social media, how do they behave? Are they viewing a lot of pages? Are they going on to convert? How does this compare for the previous time horizon? Are bounce rates high? Are you targeting the right individuals to send to your website?

2. How do metrics from one social media platform compare to those of another platform?

a. Cost per acquisition
How do your separate paid efforts on social media affect your cost per acquisition? Which of your paid social media efforts seems to be the most effective? Is this a function of the platform, the audience, or both?
b. User engagement metrics
Does your audience tend to engage more with your touch points on one social media platform? Or does one social media platform seem to influence engagement on the other platforms?
c. Website engagement metrics
Do users who come from one platform tend to engage in more constructive ways with your website, i.e. with more conversions or purchases, lower bounce rates, more pages viewed, longer session durations, etc.?

By clearly defining and systematically assessing the metrics that you have identified, you will have all of the elements in place for a successful social media campaign. In Part II of this blog series, we will use case studies to explore exactly what kind of story these metrics can tell, and what you as a marketer can do to adjust your approach.