Opinion Piece by Marie Grieve
Data Driven Social Media Marketing

Data Driven Social Media Marketing

We’re living in a social media phenomenon; with on average, per day, over eight billion daily video views on Facebook, one billion YouTube users and 500 million twitter posts, social content dominates our lives – and it’s only getting bigger!

But for many of us, we are not capitalising on the impact of our posts. So many businesses stop after implementation: once their posts have gone, they move onto the next. By doing so, they are losing vital data that will benefit sales leads. Stopping at this point won’t allow you to make the most of your budget and achieve your desired results.

Data generated from social media activity is key to getting the best from your campaigns. It allows you to utilise your best performing platforms, adjust your ads and, ultimately, manoeuvre your campaign in a stronger direction. Data can give you power if used correctly.

Growing an audience and engaging with customers through social media is essential business-as-usual activity.
But – and it is a BIG but – content must always be relevant, meaningful and current.

I’m sure you will have heard of precision targeting; our audiences are made up of intelligent people and they are overloaded with messaging from a multitude of channels every day. To be seen and heard above the “social noise”, we must have a relevance that resonates with our audience. They must have a need to listen to what we say; we need to make a difference to their business and, most importantly, information must be current. We need to be the resource that provides information – the go-to source. Being out of date means we are no longer useful.

We must ensure we are talking to the right people, be precise in who we select. So many businesses make the mistake of thinking one-size-fits-all and use mass-messaging in the hope of reaching someone who is interested in what they do. In today’s market, personalisation and knowing your audience and how to reach them is essential (and good practice!).

We also need to understand the differences between each platform, who uses them and how to maximise your usage. Never repeat content or messaging word for word over each platform. Change your tone of voice to match each audience type and pick the right time of day to post to gain maximum exposure.

When looking at the data generated from our social media posts, this shows how users share, view or engage with content or profiles. Numbers, percentages and statistics provide actionable insights concerning your social media strategy. Some of the things we need to be capturing are shares, likes, mentions, impressions, hashtag usage, clicks, follower numbers and comments.

However, most of this is what we term “vanity” data: figures that show the popularity of posts. We need to then translate this into meaningful data. What can we do with this to inform our future messaging and the way we manage our platforms and audiences?

All messaging must have a purpose and a call to action. Typically, to drive traffic to a website or a specific web page.
From here we can capture leads and start to track a user life cycle.

Social media metrics are important because they prove we can measure how successful a campaign is, how well our social strategy is performing, and, ultimately, if you will have an impact on your overall business. It is easy to get carried away with your social media data without really understanding what it means in context, that’s why not only does your data matter, but so does how you analyse it.

Before you can define your social return on investment, you first need to define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). What do you want to achieve? Brand awareness? Sales leads? Peer recognition? Driving website traffic? Once established, you can set your goals and start analysing – whilst always remembering you need to know what’s producing results and what is not, to fully understand how your social strategy is performing.

Having these objectives gives you an opportunity to showcase the impact of your work. Consistent social media metric reports can lead to major shifts for your social strategy. Metrics keep you aware of general social profiles and brand health – you don’t know the impact of your social media presence until you have the data to back it up!

To keep track of performance and assess whether you are meeting your targets, there are three core areas to review: engagement, impressions and reach.

Engagement is made up of “likes”, “comments”, “shares” and “clicks”. It essentially measures how much audiences are interacting with your account and how often. High engagement rates will indicate audience health (how responsive your audience is and how many are “real” followers). Impressions are how many times a post shows up in someone’s timeline, and reach is the potential unique viewers a post could have (usually your follower count plus accounts that shared the post’s follower counts).

Combining these metrics will give you a 360° view of your social media performance. Simply looking at one type of metric might not give you all the context you need to make full decisions for your strategy. Looking at a combination of metrics is a great way to learn more about what levers you can pull to meet your specific goals.

For example, a post that receives a lot of likes but no comments or shares is not always bad. The post intention could have been to present a case study that isn’t meant to be a call to action. But, if there was a call to action that encouraged comments and shares, then the lack of them could mean a poorly performing message.

Analysing our posts gives us this level of detail to be clever and understand what works and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t work.

Equally, if you have multiple goals of both increasing awareness but also of educating your audience, you will want to look for a combination of reach, impressions and engagement. For a post that has a high impressions count but a low engagement number, it likely means that your post was not relevant enough for you audiences to take action after seeing it in their feed. For a post with a high reach count and high engagement rate, it will likely mean that the content was meaningful and was shared.

The takeaway here is metrics are important because they tell you if a campaign or strategy is successful over time, remembering to combine your metrics to achieve the best results.
Data can be a clever tool for driving your marketing activity. Pay attention to what your social media data is telling you – it will help you make better, more informed choices. You never need to make assumptions on audience reactions, the data will tell you your audience story. Make sure you listen carefully, and you will reap the rewards of social media marketing.

Marie Grieve
Managing Director, Costello Palmer Communication

03 June 2020

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