Surveys consistently report that the main issue stopping clients fully integrating social media into their marketing plans is the lack of clear evaluation metrics. The often cited phrase “If you don’t keep score, you are only practicing” nicely sums up the problem social media has in muscling into the traditional mix of communication channels that have created their own accepted set of measurement criteria over many years.
This is the cause of great frustration. The impact of social media on everyday consumer behaviour and brand attitudes is immense and unstoppable. But a deficiency in measurement is holding back companies joining and even shaping the conversations about their brands through the new channels of social media interaction.
The challenge to the industry is to find a common currency that values social activities in a non-siloed way whether they are on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. While many people have tried to produce measurement standards, none have gained much traction because of failure to account for transparency, scalability, affordability and the capacity to leverage existing data.
At Starcom MediaVest Group we see the lack of industry headway as an opportunity as our starting point is the recognition that social experiences are very different to other media channel impressions. Social media is not just a level of exposure but also a simultaneous tracking of human effort or involvement with the viewed content. Using the language of Forrester’s widely recognised social technographics segmentation, social media usage can be categorised in many ways with critics and creators the most engaging reaction. It therefore goes without saying that the most effective social experiences are those that lead to proportionally more of this type of behaviour relative to more passive actions, such as joining or spectating.
Fortunately, data that dynamically measures involvement exists from within the basic social media analytics tools. Each social media has its own set of data to track experience involvement (see table). We can then relate this data to the human experience, which in most cases means that “typing” stuff as opposed to “clicking “signifies a higher level of social media interaction.
Equipped with these basic principles SMG has developed a proprietary statistical model that measures the relative degree of experience involvement to experience exposure. We express this mathematical relationship as a co-efficient which we call the Experience Involvement Coefficient (EIC)- the higher the EIC, the greater the level of involvement. As many of our clients have discovered the EIC is extremely valuable as it works at many levels.
At its most basic it can be used as a static measure to compare a new branded social experience or content execution to the baseline performance of the brand on a social channel. For example, using comments as a proxy for high involvement experiences for our Beverage Industry client we are able to show that the re-launch of their classic TV characters from the 70s drove effectiveness of the Facebook site by 180%
For our BlackBerry client whose Live and Lost initiative with Tinie Tempah to promote The BBM service the results were even more staggering, + 300% on Facebook and + 400% on Twitter
In a very clear way the EIC provides a standard experience evaluation approach that uses the relationship between users and the amount of viewers who are actively involved with the media as our scorecard. But as well as an overall campaign metric, the EIC aids social media planning when used as an on-going moving metric.
By tracking a moving EIC over time the client can see the relative impact of social media activities on the brand. This means the user has a continuous measure of how paid , owned or earned assets are affecting social involvement. For example, by tracking the social activities of a FMCG client, we can see the outcomes and impact of paid and earned promotions.
This consistent approach to social evaluation is being applied to all SMG client campaigns and over time we will have populated a very comprehensive normative database with category and social channel case studies. Results can be expressed in absolute terms or via a constantly updated social experience dashboard.
In conclusion, by creating a single cross-platform social experience metric we believe we have a more objective view on social media ROI. Currently, social return is stated as £ return per “click” or “like” but the EIC takes evaluation to a much higher and impressive level. While a pure ROI for social media maybe some way off, the Cost per Facebook EIC or, Twitter EIC does give a comparative and dynamic view of whether the effort and investment behind social media has translated into an efficient return on experience. From where we are currently, that is real progress
By Jim Kite (Strategic Development Director) and Thaer Namruti (Group Data and Analytics Director)