All marketing efforts need to be justified with empirical results. And at the same time, way too many social marketers look at the wrong numbers or wrong combination of numbers. Let’s get it right on the table … Social marketing success is not defined by how many likes (friends) a brand has on Facebook or the number of followers on Twitter. Far too many executives are hell-bent on measuring success by likes and followers.
Likes and followers are very important, but looking at them in isolation is meaningless and dangerous. First, lets consider the objectives of social marketing:
1) To get in front of your target audience and establish interest, value, trust, interactivity, and a growing relationship.
2) Generate brand preference.
3) Provoke referrals and word of mouth marketing.
So getting likes and followers is only the start to meeting the objectives listed above. Lets discuss Facebook likes first. I can get any brand one million followers, no problem. We’ll just give an iPad away to anyone that likes the brand. Sounds a bit silly, but there are a number of brands that do some sort of a sweepstakes or ad campaign to get people to like their brand and think the social marketing is over. Getting likes is an important start, but not everyone that likes your brand will see your posts. And if they do not see your posts, what is the purpose of having that like? Facebook uses a complex algorithm to determine what posts are seen. To simplify the complexity, lets just say that if a person is engaged and interactive with a brand on Facebook, it is most likely that brand’s post will appear on the person’s newsfeed. Thus, the most important combination of metrics to look at on Facebook is likes and “talking about this” (found just to the right of likes on a brand Facebook page).
I often tells brands I work with that they should track the percentage of talk about this relative to their likes to get a good Facebook metric. Remember, once you acquire many likes, you need to keep them engaged by posting compelling content that inspires people to like the individual posts, comment, and engage. If you score numerous brand likes, then work to increase the percentage of talking about this relative to your likes.
Now lets talk about Twitter a bit. How many Tweeters do you follow? I follow over four thousand. It is not possible for me to actually capture and see the tweets of that many and I am sure the scenario is close to the same for you. So getting followed is step one for a brand. The second step of success is to motivate your followers to put you on one of their twitter lists. Typically users maintain twitter lists as a short cut to capture valued information on a segmented topic. The best strategic way to get on a list is, once again, to continually provide posts of interest – entertaining, informative.
(Notes on twitter lists – it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what list your twitter account is on. The only way I have found is to go to ‘http://twitter.com/twitter-handle/lists/membership’, but this will only give you a page worth of the list you are on. If you are on more lists than can be covered on one page worth, Twitter does not allow you to scroll and see the additional ones. A complete list was available using TweetDeck, but now that that app has been eliminated, I have found no replacement. I welcome input from others that have seen a solution.)
There are some that have emphasized looking at qualitative social results instead of quantitative results. Both are important. For example, I might be content with only having one thousand Twitter followers if those followers were every CEO and CMO at fortune five hundred companies. As a brand, you want quality likes and followers … those that will engage with you and advocate for your brand. But a good part of the onus is on your social marketing to create quality likes and followers.
In the end, let’s make sure we agree on one thing … You must generate measurable results with your social marketing efforts. But make sure you are measuring results against objectives – not just simple like and followers. There are a number of important parameters you can track to align to overall business objectives. If you want more information on this, see “Know What Social Media Success Looks Like.”
Make it Happen,