Defining Success in Social Media

Defining Success in Social Media
September 11, 2015 Steph Chng

“What does success look like?” is a question we always try to answer for our clients, for any campaign we work on.

Now with the advent of digital and social media, there are, quite honestly a mind-boggling plethora of metrics available. Download the Facebook pages and post data for your brand and you’ll be presented with two excel sheets, with over 20 tabs of data – impressions, countries targeted, ages targeted, paid impressions, organic impressions, page views. Radian6 tells us how many people have tweeted about your brand, your competitors, panda babies, or outrage at Donald Trump’s latest comments and  how many people have possibly seen it.

As social analysts, we’re often transcribing these metrics into something meaningful for our clients and trying to pin down that definition of success. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, a deep breath and regain perspective on what’s really important and what are the essential indicators of social success.

In my view, the essence of success in social media comprises of two key things:

  1. Firstly, we need to be reaching the most valuable people.

It’s tempting for all of us to look at reach, or even impression figures and make a quick judgment on marketing success – perhaps, a remnant from our traditional ideas of marketing. It sounds absolutely wonderful to rattle off a huge number – go on, try saying “A reach of 32.9 million” – doesn’t that roll of the tongue all too well? But without relevance, reach is irrelevant, especially in the attention economy where a non-relevant post is quickly thumbed past and forgotten. A Facebook post that’s tightly crafted and targeted toward a niche audience of 15,000 people is, in my view, a better than a post that calls out to the generic public of millions. Social media success is starting (or re-igniting) conversations with the right people, not shouting your thoughts on the street.

  1. Secondly, I think social media success involves growing ongoing brand advocacy.

We know that it’s a wonderful medium for spreading word of mouth at scale. But many marketers mistake the number of fans, followers or subscribers for advocacy. To measure true engagement and advocacy in a brand that drive business value, we need to look at sentiment over time, and whether people are compelled to share the brand story and content to their networks.  To me, a successful social brand actively grows advocacy and a strong brand narrative with genuine human connection. It’s key that we measure all the ways in which customers show advocacy – not just in shares, tags and retweets from our branded content channels, but also in the form of forum conversations, shares of our media coverage, and of course, how far and how fast these effects are spreading.

Written by Steph Chng, Social Media Executive, Ogilvy Melbourne