Retweets, shares, and likes, all these interactions with your social media channels are easily tracked and recorded. The social media channels themselves try to give you as much data as they can on the social media messages you’re sending out. The question is, what does it mean? If you aren’t sure, then you’ll want to dig a little deeper. If you’re spending your time and money creating and following a social media program, then you need to make sure that your investment is worth it. This week on Found Friday, Ray Grieselhuber, CEO, and Erin Robbins O’Brien, COO, talked a little about the value of search and social as a combined effort.

Beyond Vanity Metrics

imgresThere’s one good reason to collect data — to tell you what’s working and what’s not. That information can then be used to inform future decisions. If you’re not basing your decisions on data, then it’s more of a shot in the dark than an informed decision.

The transformation of social as a platform for promoting content marketing has also transformed the tools that measure the effectiveness of content and search. Now marketing intelligence platforms help track the traffic that begins in social media channels. When looking at measuring social, there are two key areas of measurement:

  1. Competitive Audience Share – competitive audience share in a social context is simple to understand. It compares your share of voice to that of your competition.
  2. Content Performance – content performance requires specialized marketing intelligence software to provide a combined view of search and social findability.

If you’re serious about using content marketing to drive business growth, it’s critical to understand not only how easily your audience is finding you, but where they’re finding you and how you stack up against the competition.

“Clicks and other so-called vanity metrics, in and of themselves, are just that unless you define what impact those things have on your business. You need to spend some time upfront documenting your strategy, making a plan for how you’re going to make that strategy work, and how you’re going to measure performance against the KPIs that you set up for yourself. Once you’ve done that, it will be easy to figure out what metrics you want to focus on,” advises Ray.

Make It Better With Measurement

imagesOnce you’ve set your KPIs, it’s easier to see which of your social channels to focus on and what content to promote through each channel. You can still keep an eye on the vanity metrics, but you’ll have a much better idea which of these affect you and which don’t. When you understand where your audience is finding you and with what content, you can focus on the things that are going to help you improve your performance against those KPIs.

“What we’re talking about is improving performance. Knowing how to measure your efforts to really understand what works and what doesn’t is the most important part of the process. That’s why I recommend measuring the medium (channel), the method (type of content), and the message (the actual words) separately. This measurement tactic helps you to understand the content that you’re currently creating or that you’ve created in the past, and how to optimize any effort that you make moving forward,” states Erin.

Measuring each element of your campaign is especially important when you add new mediums or methods to a campaign. By separating out where you’re publishing from what you’re publishing and how that is being published means you can identify specifically what is or isn’t working and make real adjustments.

Although they are often different departments, or at least different groups within a department in some companies, when search and social work together they can have a positive influence on the organization’s bottom line. Although the collaboration between these two departments seems obvious enough, too many times they are each working in isolation from each other.

For the social media people, there are real insights to be had by knowing the things that people are searching for that are naturally coming through your SEO. The keywords already identified by your SEO department are the topics, the phrases, and the words that people are natively using, searching for, and therefore, already interested in. Similarly, what’s being heavily shared on social channels is something that SEO would want to consider amping up from an organic marketing perspective.

Similarly, the SEO department can identify and track keywords based on the language that people are using when they’re having discussions on social media and sharing things of significance to your brand.

“Take a look at how your content is being optimized to be found by your target audience. Check out our recommendations tool. We’ll make sure your landing pages don’t suck,” offers Erin, “if something seems to be catching fire, see if you can take that topic and create additional content in other places like video, case studies, white papers, ads, whatever. Don’t stop at excitement about a single effort on one social post.”

Speaking the Same Language

imgres-1It’s not exactly the tower of babel, but different departments and disciplines have developed their own language to describe and discuss the same things. The evolution of content marketing has been bringing these departments together to create a unified message and with it the need to share data and information.

“From my experience, SEO people talk about keywords all the time while the social media departments talk about topics, trends, and categories of things people are paying attention to,” notes Ray, “one of the things that has taken longer than expected to happen has been getting people on both sides to realize they’re talking about the same thing.

The benefit of the search and social teams working together can lead to better progress toward overall business goals for both departments.

  • Turn social topics and trends into keywords and search phrases
  • Measure how people are searching for those topics
  • Build a more powerful aggregate of topics and keywords based on the results
  • Optimize your content to be found by your target audience
  • Use popular keywords in social posts
  • Create content around the topics discovered in social

Don’t let semantics get in your way. Seek company-wide solutions by sharing the commonalities that are happening between conversations that people are having natively amongst themselves on social and how they’re searching for things on the internet. Use these findings to create better conversations, to create better content, to drive better traffic, and to drive more relevant traffic.

“This goes back to the thing that I always get annoyed about which is somebody saying, ‘I want to know how much traffic I have to have to my website to have X number of shopping cart fills or form fills to get X number of leads, or to get X number of purchases.’ Why are you so concerned about just driving excess traffic? Get the relevant traffic by creating the content that gets the relevant people to you,” advises Erin.

How are You Measuring Effectively?

Measuring content marketing and measuring content marketing effectively are two different things. Keep in mind what your goals are. Do you want more retweets and likes, or do you really want more conversions? Are you happy with an increase in page views, or do you want to know who is visiting your page and how many of those visitors are becoming customers? Surface metrics may do more harm than good. In the end, anything you measure should be influencing your future decisions and ultimately influencing your bottom line.

“You need to figure our how to measure what you’re doing. Even if it’s not an exact decimal number or whatever, there needs to be some metrics that show something. Page view, honestly, just seem like a copout to me. It’s not an irrelevant number, it’s just not the only number,” states Ray.

Although there is inherent value in awareness, what you really need to know is what effect are your efforts having on your bottom line and what would happen if you stopped doing one or all of them today? Effective measurement will help you decide which efforts to continue and which are not worth your time. Focus on the medium, method, and message and build a system that enables you to track each one of those things. Once you do, drill down into what’s working and what’s not working on every instance of what you’re doing so you can figure out what to optimize.