Social Media Marketing Cube

eMarketer recently published an article that shows organizations are still trying to get their arms around social media marketing, as both the goals of the initiative and the platforms being used are all over the place.  The article, “Social’s Value Measured in Engagement Over Sales,” reports on data found in a 2013 survey of US marketing professionals by Pivot Conference and July 2013 data from L2 Think Tank.

The Pivot Conference survey found that organizations use social media marketing to accomplish a number of different goals…

Social Media Marketing Goals
While customer engagement and brand lift were the top goals, a large number of them – ten – received responses from over 50% of the survey respondents.  And, the priority of the goals are also shifting around.  Increasing sales is the one goal, in particular, whose priority has been changing over the years, as it was clearly the #1 goal a couple years ago.

The L2 Think Tank data showed that organizations are using a large number of social platforms for their social media marketing efforts…

Social Platforms by Brand

This either indicates that marketers are seeing enough benefits from social media marketing to justify extending their presence across additional platforms, or they are taking a “throw spaghetti at a wall” approach to see which platforms will eventually stick.  Our gut feel is that the latter is what is happening.

The current broad nature of social media marketing – both in terms of goals and the platforms being used – indicate organizations are still going through a learning process in the area.  They are trying to understand the role social media marketing plays within the context of their business objectives, and what platforms will be most effective.  This is backed up by a data point in the Pivot Conference survey as 32.5% of the respondents said that the lack of a social strategy had prevented them from moving beyond experimentation.  While this percentage is going down each year, it still accounts for a significant segment of the market.

Since we are in the marketing analytics business, the question we ask is, “how does the current state of social media marketing affect how organizations measure the performance of their activities in the area?”  We believe it is important to have a marketing analytics environment that addresses four key requirements:

    • Support for multiple social platforms.  Since organizations seem to be experimenting with a large number of social platforms, it is important to have an analytics environment that supports a wide range of platforms, or at least, one that is architected to easily add on connectors for new social platforms.  And, to eliminate the need to look at metrics for each individual social platform, look for solutions that can aggregate social metrics across different platforms to provide an overall view of performance.
    • Support for multiple presences on a particular social platform.  In addition to using multiple social platforms, many brands are developing multiple presences on particular platforms, whether it is for different products or different countries.  As a result, an analytics environment needs to give organizations a “one stop shop” for measuring the performance of all of the social pages they have.
    • Flexibility to measure the metrics that matter.  As organizations’ goals for social media marketing shift, so will the metrics they want to measure.  As a result, it is important to have an analytics environment that gives you the flexibility to measure what is important at a given point in time.
    • Ability to analyze social data with non-social data.  In order to measure some of the goals of social media marketing, it is not enough to just gather data from social platforms.  Some of the goals – increase sales, for example – require social data to be correlated with transactional data.  So, an analytics environment needs to support analyses that includes both social and non-social data.