Brands put more emphasis on social media engagement over ROI metrics

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How should a brand measure its social media efforts and results? Usually one would say that, as the final result of every company is to increase its volume of sales, that should be the main parameter. However, more and more brands are seeing things differently. As the relationship between a social media campaign and direct sales it not necessarily straightforward, then another parameter is needed. And that is engagement.

According to a recent piece by Business Insider:

social media is mainly good at building brand presence and deepening relationships with customers. It makes sense to benchmark social media strategies according to what social media is good at doing, rather than using weak metrics to try and get at the dollar impact of a campaign.

Off course, that will indirectly result in sales increase. But focusing solely or mainly on this will lead to flawed analysis of the results of a social media strategy. Focus on engagement and sales will follow.

BI’s story also reveals how social media strategies have been evolving:

  • The decline of ROI metrics: Between 2010 and 2013, the percentage of marketers using a revenue-per-customer metric on social media dropped from 17% to 9%, according to the February 2013 CMO survey. The percentage tracking conversion rates also dropped, from 25% to 21%.

  • Even as the vogue for ROI indicators fades, social media budgets are ballooning. On average, top marketers expect to devote 9% of their budgets to social media spend in 2014, and 16% by 2018, according to the same survey.

  • Exceptions: Of course there are exceptions to the move away from ROI. Some social commerce applications and direct response campaigns will achieve measurable results on Facebook, or other social networks. And the end of the ROI-fever definitely doesn’t mean that all metrics can be thrown out the window.

  • The metrics to watch are audience reach, engagement, and sentiment. On Facebook, it’s always important to remember that due to algorithmic filtering, brand or business posts will only be seen by an average 16% of their fans.

  • Facebook shares are particularly valuable, because normal users’ posts are seen in a relatively high percentage of friends’ news feeds (compared to posts by brand pages); between 29 and 35% according to one study.

  • Improving the most common metrics: Insights, Facebook’s built-in analytics tool, offers great basic data for measuring reach and engagement. We show you how to transform those numbers into richer and more valuable metrics.

  • Post reach is the most fundamental indicator of reach on Facebook, but it’s important to track it relative to number of page fans and enrich it with complementary indicators. We show you how, and include screenshots.

It is high time every company rethinks its social media analysis model and consider engagement as a main goal.