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The Search for Meaning in Digital Metrics

The Search for Meaning in Digital Metrics

Adoption of digital media is no longer in its emerging stages, with approximately 9 in 10 companies using social media for marketing. As the industry matures and many brands move past the launch phases, companies are craving a better understanding of the ROI for their digital efforts. In a 2015 survey, a whopping 45% of CMOs report that they haven’t been able to show social media’s impact on their business at all yet, with just 13.2% acknowledging a solid understanding of the quantitative impacts.

Within today’s major social media platforms, any page manager can access a broad set of real-time metrics through native analytics such as Facebook Insights and other third-party platforms, but the sheer amount of information can be a daily data overload. How is an organization to know which metrics are, in fact, meaningful? How can they know how they’re performing in relation to their industry?

Updates to digital metrics also take place constantly and often without warning, making it a challenge for brands to track progress over time and know where a performance change is a fault of theirs, or a reflection of larger changes being felt industry-wide.

One of the exciting things about what we do at Bohlsen Group is not just conveying a myriad of metrics to our clients, but walking them through the context of the numbers and what they actually mean in relation to their goals.

That’s why we’ve adopted the term Online Media, which encompasses a variety of online metrics. By integrating social media metrics into a brand’s larger digital footprint, we provide our clients with a greater understanding of overall success across all online platforms. Recently, we revamped our Online Media Measurement Program with this idea in mind.

First, we sit down with new clients to hone in on their goals and target audience and to set benchmarks. We always make sure to track metrics that we can actually influence through our strategy, rather than those that might be entirely out of our control. Next, we use a combination of industry-leading analytics tools to measure success in four major areas, taking care to isolate the valuable metrics from the “vanity” ones. These areas are:

  1. Brand Relevance

In the big picture of things, how are you performing? How many followers, fans, or connections do you have, and how many impressions (potential views of your content) are you achieving each month? How are these trends tracking and improving over time?

  1. Engagement

The exact harbingers of engagement are ever-changing—think likes, reactions, shares, comments, favorites—but the desired result is the same. Above and beyond the number of eyeballs on your updates, how is your audience responding and how is this tracking over time?

Another key metric that we measure with engagement is brand mentions. While many analytics tools measure just how many times your Twitter handle or page is tagged, our tools enable us to track brand mentions by any public user, regardless of whether they remembered to tag you (or got your handle right).

  1. Competitor Metrics

How much of the “share of voice” do you control in your industry? We measure clients’ brand mentions against their key competitors so that they can see with their own eyes.

  1. Sentiment

It’s great if you grow your engagements by 200% in one month, but not if all of the responses are customer complaints. Are mentions of your brand positive, negative, or neutral?

Finally, we make adjustments to content and strategy each month based on the results we’re seeing and keep the focus on how online media is meeting your goals, often working within Google Analytics to map your website traffic.

As an agency, we understand that the only thing we can predict in social media is change itself. We do the research and planning to understand how each algorithm update may affect you, and proactively recommend strategies for success.

Above all, don’t get lost in the sea of online media metrics! Determine which metrics will help you reach your goals, and consider seeking professional counsel to help set realistic benchmarks in relation to your competitors and industry.

by Lauren Cascio


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