‘Social media needs to be measured not counted’

A set of guidelines has been published to inform brands how to make the most of social media when looking beyond counting the ‘clicks’.

The #IPASocialWorks project is an industry-wide initiative that looks to provide clear measuring guidelines for marketers of social media impact. The Institute of Practitioners (IPA), The Marketing Society and the Market Research Society (MRS) collaborated to produce key guidelines for marketers, designed to improve the measurement of return-on-investment.

The guidelines suggest that there needs to be a cultural change which moves towards ‘measuring not counting’ the impact of social media campaigns.  To do this industry bodies call on businesses to move from ‘collecting’ data from campaigns to ‘interpreting’ it.

At the industry launch of the publication yesterday (3 Feb) in London, Simeon Duckworth, Mindshare’s head of business planning said: “Measurement means that metrics don’t just show what happened but also how, when and where it happened.”

The publication further recommends that social media campaigns are not administered in isolation, but work across departments and become integrated with existing long-term and traditional strategy for best results.

Key messages from the guidelines suggest marketers should:

·      Use a test-and-learn strategy to make sense of the data and ask broader questions

·      Avoid measuring social media in isolation and use it in conjunction with other channels

·      Avoid an over-reliance on earned media and influencers

·      Balance short-term and long-term objectives

In April 2014, the US based Association of National Advertisers (ANA) report showed that when measuring metrics 89% of advertisers still look at ‘likes’ while 23% look at ROI.

At the event, Patrick Barwise emeritus professor of management and marketing at the London School of Business, said that social media is no longer a ‘hype’ for marketers but a properly established element of campaigns. However, marketers still don’t know how to use social media scientifically according to Barwise.

There are however examples in the industry that have produced measurable ROI. To inform the guidelines the bodies reviewed 35 brands, and found that 13 of them showed solid cases of ROI.

Transport for London (TfL), O2, Dorito’s and Unilever are a few of the companies that have proven to gain value from social media and measure its ROI, according to the publication’s case studies.

As an example, O2’s real-time platform collects messages received from users and augments them with ‘meta data’ to add contextual information, which they have found produces positive results.

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