“Accept that you're not in the business of making social look good.”
Don't spend too much time trying to convince people that the work you do has value.
According to Nestle Purina PetCare's Digital Marketing Analyst, Natalie Williams, that's the first key to developing effective, actionable, and honest metrics. In her presentation at SocialMedia.org's Brands-Only Summit, she says, “Don't spend too much time trying to convince people that the work you do has value. Instead, focus on what matters to your company, and rally your social efforts around that.”
Ask yourself how you fit into the larger picture.
Natalie asks, “Are you purposefully choosing the tactics and platforms that align to your business goals or are you just chasing the latest platforms and capabilities?”
She explains that social objectives shouldn't be developed separately from business objectives. Instead, they should be aligned to them. First, you have to know what your brand needs, then build social to support that. “Don't work backwards to understand how social fits.”
The goals of the platform should align with the business goals.
Focus on platforms that make achieving and measuring your goals possible — not just platforms with the a large user base or high engagement rates. User bases and engagement rates, according to Natalie, aren't going to keep your company in business.
“There will always be new tech and capabilities, but chasing those will lead you further from business objectives or provide measurements that don't matter to overall goals,” she says.
“It's OK to be different.”
If your social media dashboards don't represent your goals, they won't help you.
Natalie says that while some cookie cutter dashboards may look aesthetically pleasing, not all of them will meet your unique measurement goals. “If your social media dashboards don't represent your goals, they won't help you.”
At Nestle Purina PetCare, Natalie relies on raw data from the platforms and Google to create customized reports. She explains how they developed meaningful measurement for their MyPlan dog nutrition campaign by determining each of the campaign aspects in this order:
- Business goal: Their goal was to acquire new consumers who had not yet tried Purina's ProPlan pet food.
- Business strategy: Send new consumers a trial of ProPlan.
- Marketing tactic: Get users to answer a MyPlan questionnaire about their dog to determine the recommended food for them along with a discount. Collect data based on their dog and their own individual needs plus if they've bought from the brand before.
- Measurement: How many MyPlan registrations did they earn?
Natalie explains that by thinking through each of these aspects first, you can arrive at the measurement that matters most. But, she warns, “Between the marketing tactic and measurement discussions, there's often a breakdown of communication. People will ask, ‘What platforms should we be on?' or, ‘What measurement should we have?' and all the sudden it becomes a grab bag of everything we could do to possibly produce evidence that what we did somehow worked.”
“If you're asked any of those questions, make sure you're not jumping to an answer. You need to sit back and ask what it is that we're actually trying to do here.”
Make proper tracking a priority.
If you want to understand the effectiveness of one tactic over another, you need make your insights actionable. Natalie says, “It's great to have all of these data points and information, but if there's not something you can actually do to make improvements in a timely manner, then you'll be throwing your hands in the air.”
Inputs do not equal results.
“When we're looking at the data to determine our success, we have to focus on what we originally set out to do,” Natalie explains.
She calls these inputs “Measurements of Uncertain Success,” meaning they may indicate some level of interaction or delivery of the message, but they're not necessarily the goals:
- Video views
“These measurements of uncertain success can lead us to be victims of the ‘Woo' effect,” she says.
“These numbers are usually pretty impressive, and we're excited to include them in reporting, but since they don't directly correlate to the brand's business objectives, they're not relevant to include in reports on their own.”
This brings Natalie back to her first key principle for measurement that matters: It's not your job to make social look good. She says that if you're honest about the results and what you can do to improve the numbers, that's what ultimately matters to help show your improvement over time.