Tracking Metrics in Social 3.0

Opinion: Marketers are unsure if they can trust data from Facebook

Tracking Social 3.0 requires a technology audit flyfloor/iStock

From impacting the most recent U.S. presidential election to internal workforce issues, Facebook received attention for reasons other than its network and ad platform in 2017. The topic weighing heaviest on marketers’ minds? The platform’s long list of measurement mistakes.

Facebook is the world’s most popular social network, with incomparable reach and real value for marketers. However, as engagement on the channel increases, marketers are in a pickle. While they want to track and support valuable experiences on Facebook, they’re unsure if they can trust the channel’s metrics.

And in an omnichannel sales environment, metrics matter more than ever before. Without understanding where sales leads come from, it’s difficult to execute marketing campaigns that maximize return on investment.

The evolution of social metrics

Marketers’ wavering trust in Facebook metrics warrants a look back at the evolution of social media itself.

At social’s advent (Social 1.0), metrics focused strictly on likes and comments. Content simply wasn’t as important as users learned to build social profiles and make the platform work for them.

Then, Social 2.0 invited brands to enter the fray. With them came the new role of content as a driver of top-line metrics.

Now, we’re in the midst of Social 3.0, where advancements in the technology have made it possible for social channels to result in real ad conversions.

When it comes to these conversions, it’s no longer all about the click. There’s been a marked shift away from social interactions of the past, which centered around intangible things like likes and engagement-based activities. Now, marketers are tasked with tracking more tangible metrics like conversions. Another way to look at this evolution is from social objectives (likes, shares, comments) to real business objectives (conversions, units sold, cost per sale).

Facebook is encouraging these trends, too. Initially, Facebook was reserved for organic traffic. However, the channel’s massive expansion created room for paid spaces, giving brands opportunities to market on Facebook. Today, Facebook offers a robust suite of ad products that leverage all types of engagement points and calls to action. Facebook has created an environment where native social ads are the focus, not early hallmarks of social media like organic reach and community management.

As focus shifts, marketers must update the metrics they’re tracking, and how.

Tracking Social 3.0 requires a technology audit

In the past, marketers relied on direct response marketing as the easiest way to measure campaign performance. This worked, but the onus to complete and submit feedback forms rested on consumers.

To thrive in Social 3.0, marketers must provide more direct channels for responses with lower barriers of entry, and do more of this work themselves.

They must also come to terms with the fact that while Facebook often feels like an owned channel, it’s first and foremost a platform designed for consumers. This means they cannot blindly put all their trust in Facebook’s metrics. Rather, marketers should be partnering with available third-party technologies to truly understand, trust and drive full value from Facebook insights.

Call tracking provides an avenue for this. Armed with call tracking software, marketers can determine which campaigns are causing Facebook users to pick up their phones. For instance, marketers can assign unique call numbers to separate Facebook campaigns to A/B test different copy and CTAs. Once they know what’s working best, they can incorporate that feedback into future campaigns.

Other analytics tools then provide a clearer picture. For example, marketers can leverage insights from Google Analytics, third-party data providers or other big analytics tools to learn more about the users that are engaging. Such a holistic perspective results in the creation of more personalized campaigns and, therefore, conversions.

Perhaps the majority of Facebook users picking up the phone are younger. Marketers can take this trends information and begin to solve for weak points in their existing campaign experiences. Maybe that means incorporating more diverse types of content that younger consumers are comfortable with, such as video.

Regardless of how much companies can invest in metric tracking, the goal should always be the same—capturing multichannel attribution. While conversion on Facebook is now a real possibility, particularly as brands optimize their campaigns for mobile devices, marketers must develop strategies to track audiences and learn more about what’s engaging them best.

And once marketers can do that, Facebook opens their businesses to a world of exponential possibilities and interactions—just as social media was intended to do.

Nancy Lim is director of marketing at call tracking and analytics company CallRail.

Publish date: January 2, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT