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Expert Interview Series: Jim Sterne on measuring your social media marketing campaigns

Suhail Doshi

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Jim Sterne is the founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization
Summit
and the Web Analytics
Association
. HeÂ’ is also the author of
the new book “Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your
Marketing Investment”
.

In this interview he addresses how metrics for social media are different from
the web analytics that weÂ’ve all become accustomed to and why understanding
these numbers are crucial for your companyÂ’s growth:

What are the biggest ways social media marketing metrics differ from traditional analytics that measure core product performance?

Social media brings two new metrics to online marketing that we haven’t
worked with before. The first is influence. In social media, it’s critical
to know who the most influential people in your marketplace are. This is a
challenge for every product or subject as the opinion of a relatively unknown
individual thought leader can be much more powerful than a celebrity known to
many. The second is sentiment. We now have the ability to listen in on an
immeasurable number of conversations and we need to discern the tone of those
conversations. Everything else we can measure has their roots in traditional
advertising measurement or web analytics – What bearing do those interactions
have on brand awareness and business outcomes?

What is the importance of knowing detailed user metrics, like the number of comments or ‘shares’ one makes, for understanding the effect of social media marketing?

Those metrics, coupled with number of readers/followers/fans/likers, etc.,
are the raw material of determining Influence. If one tweeter is only followed
by a dozen others, but those others retweet everything that tweeter has to say
and they, in turn, are followed by thousands, then the confluence of posts,
comments, followers, retweeters, etc., helps marketing departments identify
whom they should treat with special care.

If a company isn’t already tracking their social media metrics, what are the first steps that should be taken to get them on their way to fully understanding the business value that their social media campaigns are creating?

If a company isn’t tracking their social media efforts, the first step is to
really learn how to listen – starting with reputation management. While your
bloggers and tweeters and campaign engineers are out there making noise, it
would be Really important for your team to get a feeling for whether that
noise is being well received or not. Companies need to know what the public
thinks as an ongoing process and see if they are doing more harm than good
with their efforts.

Say a company already uses social media metrics and knows who their influencers are and what the general sentiment and awareness is around their brand – what are a few ways that this company can take advantage of having this information?

The next step would be to tie social media activities to business goals and
outcomes. This is a bit more complex but central to assessing if any
economical value is being generated. From there, it all becomes a matter of
segmentation. Does this blogger have a bigger impact in times of crisis than
that one? Does this sort of information get more attention and generate more
engagement than that other sort? Can we effectively cool down a negative
situation better with this approach or that one? Can we create more brand
equity with posts or comments on other’s blogs? Etc.

You’re the founder and Chairman of the Web Analytics Association, which has been around for nearly 6 years now. Analytics have come pretty far since then; social media metrics being a good example of something that is relatively new. What is the biggest shift you see coming in Analytics over the next year or 2?

Over the next year or two, we’re going to see analytics become more and more
part of companies’ standard operating procedures. “Show me the numbers” used
to be only about sales or opinion polls. Now, it’s going to be more about how
the numbers related to each other.

The simplest analysis one can do is, “How does that number change when looking
at this segment versus that segment?” Group A had a 45% response rate and
group B had a 23% response rate. What does that tell us about the value of the
target, the message, the medium or the offer? How can we leverage the
differences to boost response?

Starting there, the world of analytics opens up to encompass everything from
testing to personalization. It’s getting the foot in the door and now that we
have that toe-hold, managers are more readily willing to consider the power of
complex calculations. They are more willing to experiment. Those who do, will
see quick gains and reap the benefits of a sharp competitive edge.

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