A Practical Guide for Monetizing Social Media, Part 3 – Tracking and Measurement

This is the final installment of my three-part series on strategies for monetizing social media. This week I’ll cover what’s critical for any direct marketer — tracking and measurement.

Part 1, which appeared in the Sept. 17 edition of eM+C Weekly, discussed how to understand and identify your potential brand influencers. Part 2, which appeared in the Sept. 24 edition of eM+C Weekly, addressed how you can best motivate said influencers to build your brand.

Measuring social media
As with any effective digital marketing channel, social marketing programs must be tracked. Without specific metrics and success criteria, organizations will cut funding to social marketing programs. But, what are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that marketers should leverage?

In working with our clients, my firm has developed the following KPIs to help track success in the social programs that we develop.

Contact reach. Knowing how many contacts email recipients have in their online address books can tell you a lot about the size of their networks. Even though social media sharing tools won’t provide you with actual email addresses, some will provide the number of addresses, which can be valuable for assessing their influencer potential.

Social conversion. Since companies present opportunities for influencers to share content, track conversion from the social experience — whether it be a sale or a subscription. If sharing opportunities are presented to consumers within emails, banner ads or corporate websites, understand which social experiences drive the most engagement.

Consider this the social marketing version of a clickthrough rate. Brands must apply different social motivators to sharing opportunities and determine which are the most effective in getting their customer bases to share content. Tracking social conversions is critical to getting the most eyeballs on your social program, growing the funnel of first-generation sharing and the overall impact on the business.

Social invitations. As influencers engage with your social programs, do you know how many invitations were shared and in what manner friends were asked to participate? Are they leveraging email invitations, Facebook posts, tweets? Each of these invitation channels offers a different conversation value for the later generations in the social program. Understanding this can present significant optimization opportunities to marketers.

Invite conversion. One of the most interesting metrics in social direct marketing is invitation conversion rates across social channels. Specifically, tracking invite conversions allows marketers to understand what channel is most effective from an invitation standpoint. If your influencers use email to share your social content, what percentage of their friends engage in your program and continue sharing into their social networks? If your influencers use Facebook, is the conversion into your program higher or lower than email? Some of our customers have reported conversion rates that are 40 times to 60 times higher when social content is shared via Twitter rather than Facebook.

It’s not yet clear where marketers will take the power of consumer advocacy, but one thing is clear: The social web is here to stay. Consumers will continue to turn to a variety of “influencers” within their social networks when making purchase decisions.

Whether researching a brand or a specific product, consumers will spend more time discussing purchase decisions with their friends — making it all the more important to integrate your message into those discussions. Understanding who your brand’s influencers are, how to motivate their behaviors and how to track the results is the only way to get a seat at the table.

Ryan Deutsch is vice president of strategic services and market development for StrongMail Systems, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email. Reach Ryan at rdeutsch@strongmail.com.