By now it goes without saying that social media is an integral part of any brand’s digital marketing strategies. Such is the potential for building audiences on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube that it would be foolish for any brand to fail to have a presence on the channels that most suit their product. Even in this age of social media as a cornerstone of digital marketing, though, the best ways to measure the success of a social strategy haven’t been carved into stone.
Some companies will go for reach, building up the largest audience possible to maximize the potential for sales. This is perhaps a strategy more applicable to the B2C space, where relatively inexpensive products are best put in front of as many people as possible to maximize sales. B2B strategies are slightly different but, even so, a wide reach and exposure can never be a bad thing. Other brands will look at engagement as their key metric, working to build relationships and get the most out of every audience member they have before chasing so-called ‘vanity metrics.’
Ultimately, though, the holy grail for brands is to achieve both simultaneously. If marketers can build a large audience with a wide reach, but also engage that audience to maximize the value of each member, then they’ve found the willing formula. We asked four digital marketing experts from varied industries how their brands assess the success of their social campaigns, with a focus on reach or a focus on engagement.
Samantha Fay, SVP Global Brand Strategy, Guinness World Records
'We look at both measures when it comes to our social channels. Having strong follower and subscriber numbers is obviously key in attracting partners and making our brand look appealing to both influencers and our B2B clients. However, engagement is how we build brand affinity and ensure GWR is top of mind always throughout the year, not just at Christmas when the books are released.
'Many more people are watching our content on our social channels than just those who are subscribed or following those channels. For example, last year we reached over 2 million subscribers on YouTube but out of our 230 million video views in 2017 only 7.2% of those were from our subscribers.
'Growing global audiences whilst still engaging our key demographics and regions is important. We want to create content that engages audiences all over the world and therefore we choose content that has universal appeal with universally understandable themes. It’s also important to reflect a wide range of cultures and backgrounds to reflect the diversity of our global record holders.'
Sipra Thakur, Former Head of Digital, IMAX
'Loosely following Pareto’s 80-20 rule, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers, I do find engagement the more telling measure of success off social channels. It’s mostly engaged customers commenting, liking, posting about your brand on social. If I am engaging with those core customers, I have a greater chance of positively affecting the bottom line of my business.
'However, the size of your audience still needs to be kept in the purview. This growth is a source of new customers and helps you identify your evolving '20%' as the business matures, so it’s also important to keep numbers up and continually grow your audience size.'
Jen Sey, CMO of Global Brands, Levi Strauss & Co
'Both. We also look at the quality of the content (which drives engagement) – are we posting content that is leading, authentic and distinguishes our brand from others rather than uninteresting trend following content? We of course also look at ROI on paid social media.'
Sean Swentek, Chief Marketing Officer, A Walk On Water
'When it comes to judging social channel success, audience size is an important metric for understanding your market penetration, but its growth is often mistakenly focused on at the detriment of connecting with passionate brand supporters.
'Engagement as a percentage of audience size (and reach) is a much more dependable social success metric, cluing you into how well you’re connecting with your audience around content that they find valuable. The most valuable social channel KPI is being able to prove the ROI of your social marketing efforts.'
For more on how brands can build authentic relationships with their audiences through content, we hosted a panel with industry leaders from BuzzFeed, Panasonic, ABC Carpet & Home, and HomeServe. Watch the full discussion, which took place at the Content Marketing Summit in New York last December 11 & 12, below: