How to use social data to formulate future decisions

02J99393“If I wanted to deal with numbers, I’d have become an accountant”. Now while I’m sure this has crossed the mind of many marketers’, it is probably safe to say that this theory won’t quite cut it when it comes to justifying your social media strategy.

So for the sake of your job, reputation and even your own sanity, I suggest you put that thought into a small box, store it somewhere in the back of your mind and accept the fact that metrics do matter, and even the most creative campaigns need monitoring and measuring;  Sad but true.

What’s sadder is the fact that a lot of companies just don’t measure their marketing efforts – at all! They could well be pouring their budget down the drain and they wouldn’t even know it. But hey, what’s money at the end of the day. And time, and people, and brand reputation?

Funnily enough, lack of acknowledgement of social media metrics isn’t the only occurring issue when it comes to the monitoring and measurement of these campaigns. Granted, many do acknowledge these statistics. The problem is they aren’t acted on.

When a football team loses a match, the last thing a half decent football manager would do is let their team play again without acknowledging and acting on what went wrong. Or what went right or even okay for that matter. See where I’m going with this?

Here are five tips that should go some way in helping you to use your data to formulate future decisions.

When it comes to engagement metrics, don’t just focus on the raw data

Most, if not all social media monitoring platforms will, at the most basic level, provide you with engagement metrics, or more specifically, the number of people who have interacted with your content. Now while these numbers are of high value, if you rely solely on the raw numbers, your interpretation will be clouded.

With this in mind, you can continue driving into the unknown and hope for the best, or you can go one step further and think beyond the raw data and start thinking percentages. The truth is, the fact that 54 people engaged with one post, and only 27 with another, doesn’t really mean anything to anyone. Whether you like numbers or not, even the most mathematically incompetent should be able to get their heads around this formula.

Engaged Users / Reached Users X 100

Determining the percentage of each piece of content posted will enable you to understand the what’s, when’s, how’s and even why’s behind your social media content strategy efforts. From this you can make assumptions as to whether the engagement was a result of quality content, or simply because it was seen by more people. As easy as ABC eh? Now while we’re on the subject of A’s and B’s, use this insight to begin implementing A/B testing, to determine which variables are a result of greater interaction.

Envisage the bigger picture by focusing on the specifics

Let’s take engagement for example. The problem here is that many view it as a single metric, when in actual fact there are many types of engagement; tweets, retweets, likes, shares, follows, click-throughs, opens, views, need I go on?

Like many things, in order to see the bigger picture you often need to dig deeper and dissect the data. While this will indeed increase your workload, or that of your employees, it will serve to provide a greater understanding of your tactics, and in turn help you to put in place a successful strategy.

It is important to remember that not every engagement metric will be of value to your company, and it is your job to work out which are of value to you in order to meet your overall business objectives.

Influence and Shape Future Decisions from not only your performance but also that of your competitors

I guess I could have just said benchmark, but then again where’s the fun in that. Building on what you did well, and rectifying what went wrong is the only way to successfully develop your social media strategy, and ensure you are paving the way to a bulletproof plan that will see your metrics soar, and your objectives ticked.

Once you’ve mastered this, look at what your competitors have done well. While you may not have access to some data, you can easily get an idea of the basic engagement, and the variables behind their successes and failures when it comes to social media marketing.

Judge your Time and Budget Allocation

A sore subject for many, but one that has to be acknowledged. There is still much scepticism behind social media for B2B, which is exactly why it is important to ensure you are using it to its full potential, and ultimately prove its worth to those social media sceptics.

When it comes to measuring your marketing efforts, I get it. It’s like looking at your bank balance after a big night out. Granted, you’d rather avoid doing it, but then again you still need to know the damage. Now that’s not to say you’re statistics will be damaging, but hey, even if they are at least you can begin to rectify them.

Regardless of whether your metrics are good, bad or just plain neutral, overtime you can get an idea of whether the time and budget invested in social media is too much or not enough.

These tips will hopefully go some way in helping you to improve and fine-tune your overall strategy. The best way to predict the future may well be to make it. But the best way to make the future is to learn from the past.

Author:Mike Maynard

Mike Maynard is the managing director of Napier Partnership Limited. Mike is a self-confessed geek who loves talking about technology. He believes that combining the measurement, accountability and innovation that he learnt as an engineer with a passion for communicating ensures Napier delivers great campaigns and tangible return on investment.

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