Mission Impossible? Measuring B2B Social Media ROI

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Ian may 6All marketers want to know where to focus their efforts to get the best return; your time and money are perishable commodities. You want to spend them wisely, and the C-suite wants to see the results.

Social media is not easy to measure. At its core, it’s informal dialogue and word-of-mouth, both famously fuzzy to quantify. But it’s important to find a way to apply and evaluate metrics. A Gleanster white paper, “Quantifying the Value of Social Media Engagement in B2B Marketing” shows that that top performers are twice as likely as everyone else to use social media in inbound and outbound marketing. Which means if you’re aiming for top performance, social must be an arrow in your quiver…and you need to be able to measure it on order to improv it.

B2B top performers use social media to syndicate thought leadership

B2C companies are interested in reaching the broadest possible audience; anyone with two dollars might be influenced to buy a Coke. B2C marketers know the greater their exposure, usually the more value. To simplify: They can establish a baseline, launch a social campaign, and draw before-and-after correlations to infer the campaign’s impact.

For B2B marketers, there are too many variables for that kind of approach to work. For one thing, in B2B people buy products and services from people as much as from companies. It’s a more complex relationship, far more personal than buying a beverage.

There are four categories the B2B marketer can use to measure return on social investment:

  • Distribution. Look at which social channels are used to distribute messages. Track the number of followers, fans, and mentions.
  • Interaction. How is your audience engaging with your content? Measure forwards, comments, and sentiment.
  • Influence. To what degree have your social channels had an impact on perceptions and attitudes? Measure reach, Net Promoter Score, and credibility.
  • Action. What actions did you target audience take? Can you measure sales and conversions?

The core metrics you use to measure performance should be grounded in corporate values. If it’s sales; you can focus on monitoring social channels for new opportunities and track their performance, but – be warned – that’s a very needle-in-the-haystack approach. Conversely, looking only at volume (followers, fans, likes, etc.) doesn’t really connect to successful outcomes.

Tracking social media with the Social Media Mean Performance Score dashboard

Gleanster has developed a dashboard called the Social Media Mean Performance Score to track and measure the success of social media engagement. It’s a simplified, benchmarkable view of social media performance over time. It’s easy to use, and creates a tool that can be used for presentation and discussion with upper management.

Social Media MPS dashboard bigger

  • Column A: Weight your metrics by value to the organization. Focus on just one or two high-value metrics.
  • Column B: Pick which metrics to measure. Top performers use just two or three. Don’t over-complicate this.
  • Columns C through K: Monthly data. It’s linked by a formula on the Dashboard.

Interested in learning more? Want to learn how to actually use the dashboard? Download the Gleanster white paper, “Quantifying the Value of Social Media Engagement in B2B Marketing” to get the full story.

 

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.kushner.3 Daniel Kushner

    A platform for manage and measure B2B social media – http://www.oktopost.com

  • http://www.mcgrawmarketing.com/ patmcgraw

    The more that is written on this subject, the more I grow concerned about marketers. Each action should be performed in support of a strategy that has specific and measurable goals and objectives. If you are going to tweet content 5 times today, it had better be to achieve a corporate goal vs. prove to your boss that you can crank out the tweets.

    So, if some of those actions are to build awareness, then there should be a way to measure the impact on awareness over time. Do you need to measure the impact of each individual post? Probably not. But you can tell by comments, shares and likes which content/action has resonated so you can begin to refine your work.

    And if some actions will have an offer – it might be downloading a white paper or viewing a video or purchasing a product. Those actions should have campaign/source codes so that you can track who and how many responded to the specific offer. Then, you can also run reports that show [a] how many new leads were generated by that action, [b] how many of those new leads purchased products from you over time, [c] how many existing leads responded to the offer, [d] how many existing customers responded to the offer, and other key metrics that tie back to the strategy the action supported and the goals/objectives that drove the strategy.

    Bottom line is if you set up the action/campaign/tactic properly…you can capture the data necessary to report on the ROI. Our activities increased awareness in our target market from X to Y. Our activities generated # new leads that purchased $ from us in the next 6 months.

    But instead, most just push stuff out into social media with little to no thought as to what the business goals, objectives and strategies that action/campaign/tactic supports. They push out that content with little to no thought as to ‘how can I prove that this action had a positive impact on our business?’

    Dell has been tracking millions of dollars of sales to their Twitter activities. Other companies have shown how social media has lowered customer service costs and increased customer satisfaction.

    Most don’t come close to this because they act without thinking beyond “…gotta push out this tweet before I head out to lunch…”