KPIs for B2B social media

“Not everything that counts can be counted. And not everything that can be counted, counts.” Albert Einstein could have been talking about social media. And in truth, for companies who are not selling products via Facebook or Pinterest measuring the ROI from social media can be problematic.

But even if ROI – in simple terms of pounds and pennies – can be difficult, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to define some strong KPIs from BtoB social media campaigns. After all not all advertising is measured in terms of sales.

Vanity KPIs

Let’s start with vanity KPIs: things like Twitter Followers and Facebook page Likes. These have little, if any, value as KPIs – although they are very visible and thus superficially attractive. The trouble is that most followers and fans don’t do much: the average person will engage once and then have nothing more to do with your brand on social media.

The same is true of “trivial engagements” such as Facebook post Likes or Twitter Favourites: these are easy-to-perform (and easy-to-forget) actions that mean very little to your brand.

If you want to use followers and fans as a useful metric you will have to identify a subset: followers who can be considered to be prospects or customers; you can then track this number over time as a valid KPI.

Indicative KPIs

Indicative KPIs are a little more important because they tell you that things are moving in the right (or wrong) direction. However they don’t tell you much else. Change in numbers of followers/fans over a particular time may be indicative or success or failure, and movement in a positive direction is at least likely to keep the boss happy. Sentiment is another example: Tracking sentiment will rarely give you an accurate picture of how people really feel about your brand. However, if sentiment is steady or slowly becoming more positive over time this should at least give you some comfort even though there isn’t much you can do with this information. More useful is a “blip” in sentiment (a sudden rise or fall in positive or negative sentiment) which may indicate that something of importance has happened that needs investigating.

Other indicative KPIs are the “weak engagement” signals – content sharing such as re-tweets. If these are increasing you will feel that you are doing something right although it will be impossible to know whether this sharing is having an effect on your brand, and even harder put a value on this.

Another popular indicative KPI is website traffic from social media. Again, an increase in traffic looks as though it should be considered to be a positive result. It’s worth tracking but traffic on its own is a poor indicator: after all you don’t know why people have visited and it is perfectly possible that most of your visitors are disappointed when they arrive.

Brand KPIs

KPIs that indicate some sort of brand support or uplift are very important. These are things like positive brand perceptions such as “Brand X is a thought leader” or “Brand X is in my consideration set”. Generally these brand-based KPIs will need to be measured using one-on-one research such as surveys. This inevitably makes them more expensive to measure and many BtoB organisations may feel that this sort of measurement is not worth while.

Another type of branding indicator is the number of your followers and fans who are influencers. There is no set definition of what makes someone influential but you could decide to include people with, say, over 1000 followers. These influencers are likely to be of two types: “direct” influencers who are prospects or existing customers; and “indirect” influencers such as journalists and bloggers; track them separately.Unfortunately you will probably have to do this by hand.

Content effectiveness

If you are spending a lot of money on developing content (as you probably should be) then you will want to track loyalty: the percentage of people who have read your content who then return; and you will also want to track how frequently they return. This will involve setting up some customised reports in your social media analytics tools, for instance tracking the behaviour of people who have visited a particular set of pages or people who have visited your main website from your blog pages.

You may also want to track content engagement. This is hard to do as you cannot know whether people are actively reading your content or drinking a cup of tea while the page is open. The simplest way is to set up your analytics tool to track page scroll depth so that you can see how far down a page people have scrolled. As an alternative you can encourage people to rate content at the end or even divide content into a number of pages and then track each time people click on the link to pages, 2, page 3 etc. Alternatively there are more sophisticated tools (e.g. contently.com’s analysis) that can help with this by using clues such as mouse movements to estimate whether someone is actively engaged on a page and even whether they finished reading the whole article.

Strategic KPIs

Strategic KPIs don’t relate directly to marketing investment or sales success but are nonetheless important to track.

One set of strategic KPIs relates to competitors. Metrics such as social media “Share of Voice” compared with competitors will show you if you are shouting louder than your competitors (of course that is only important if you are shouting the right things.) And an analysis of comparative sentiment will also be useful (with an analysis of any blips giving you some actionable information). In a similar way an analysis of keywords around dissatisfaction with competitors will be useful information, although not strictly a KPI.

Another set of strategic KPIs relates to consumer insights. Here you need to analyse the content of any social media conversations and match the key words you are using to describe your brands with the keywords and topics that are generating engagement. You may find that one set of topics is going well at generating positive consumer reactions but that you are failing with another topic. This knowledge is important for advertising as well as for New Product Development.

Marketing KPIs

Unlike all of the preceding KPIs, some marketing KPIs can have a genuine value in terms of monetary ROI attached to them.

While the volume of website traffic from social media doesn’t in itself have a value, we could attach a value to it by estimating the cost of generating traffic using paid search or advertising. We could also attach a value to non-sales conversions such as product sheet downloads – if we know how many of these are likely to convert into a sale. And similarly we can value leads (such as email addresses) if we know what our conversion rate is likely to be. And finally we could potentially value any back-links that have been achieved from social media if we are able to calculate the cost of a single back link achieved via SEO activity.

Another area where we can potentially attach real value is in social media activity. Qualified followers and fans (i.e. people who have been identified as prospects) will have a quantifiable value if we know the average conversion rate we achieve with prospects. And so will people who are identified as being dissatisfied with a competitor.

Other KPIs worth tracking are the total number of “strong engagements” i.e. comments on your posts, and the numbers of qualified followers and fans who engage weakly or strongly with your content: while it is hard to ascribe an monetary ROI to these KPIs, they are important as they tell you whether your campaigns are succeeding in generating engagement and, importantly, whether they are doing so with the target audience.

Sales KPIs

And finally there is what every BtoB marketer will want to be able to measure: sales generated from social media.

At the soft (i.e. hard-to-value) end there are CRM interactions – the number of contacts with customers or prospects that have been made via social media. This isn’t the same as the number of leads as one customer or prospect may have been contacted several times via social media. Track number of customers/prospects contacted and also average number of contacts per customer/prospect.

And then there is the “gold standard”: sales converted from social media leads. Did I say “gold standard”. Well, that would mean that the sale was made in the absence of any other drivers such as advertising, email etc. And that’s unlikely to be the case. So track this figure; but bear in mind that giving social media total credit for the sale is probably over-estimating its importance. As Einstein said “Not everything that is worth counting can be counted”!

 

Content marketing or social media?

Content marketing? That’s just using social media isn’t it?

Well, no. The two are really quite different, although they do have a large area of overlap.

Content marketing involves using content for marketing promotion (obviously!) This content can be:

  • paid for (such as an advertorial in a magazine),
  • owned (such as a blog or a white paper in your website), or
  • earned (mentions of your brand by other people on social media platforms).

Social media, in contrast, can be used for marketing promotion but also has a number of other uses including recruitment, market insight generation and CRM.

You can illustrate the two areas this way:

Image
This simple diagram says two things:

First content marketing is far wider in media terms than social media marketing. It encompasses online marketing but also offline marketing (which is where it started). And it involves paid media and owned media as well as the earned media that social media platforms can provide.

Second, social media has a far wider remit than content marketing. It isn’t just about marketing promotion.

It can be used very effectively for CRM (customer relationship management): companies can identify customers with complaints or queries and address them, either publicly or privately.

It can also be used for generating market insights, comparing what consumers think about you and your competitors, or identifying likes and hates they have about your industry. It can be used to support marketing too: by analysing social media conversations, companies can uncover the keywords and hashtags that can be used in search and social media marketing.

And how about new product development? Again, analysis of social media conversations can identify the functionality or features that consumers would respond to in new products.

Or Human resources where social media can be used to paint an informal picture of working like in your company and can even be used to target potential employees who are contributing to online discussions.

So: if you need to explain content marketing to anyone, do go further than social media. And if you need to explain social media don’t forget the many important opportunities beyond marketing promotion.

We hope you are still not confused by the difference (if you ever were!) But if you are, or if you would like to explore the potential of content marketing or social media for your business, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with mosoco on hello@mosoco.co.uk or telephone us on 07855 341 589.

The 3 Ps of managing an online PR crisis

It happens sometimes: consumers react badly about a product feature, something you have said, or some brand imagery and the conversation goes viral. All of a sudden you are in the middle of  a PR crisis.

While this doesn’t happen that often, it is important to be aware of the potential for a PR crisis and take steps to be able to manage them if they happen: monitoring social media is a very effective way of identifying a possible crisis so that action can be taken before it happens.

Social media dashboards: social listening is a way to identify PR crises before they happen

Monitor social media to identify potential PR problems before they happen

Ideally you will be monitoring social media constantly – especially if you are providing a constant service such as an airline, internet service provider, broadcaster or bank.

If resourcing this is difficult in the UK, then potentially you could outsource monitoring outside office hours to an experienced supplier in a different time-zone. You will have to designate an employee (authorised to take appropriate action) to be on call for emergencies outside office hours in this case.

If you are not monitoring 24/7, then it is important to have someone responsible for checking for problems at the very start of each work day.

Be prepared! It is important to have plans in place to enable appropriate actions to be taken in the event of a crisis.

Getting a quick press release out is no longer likely to be sufficient. You need to be able to respond, rapidly, in the places where the crisis is building. This is likely to be Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

Preparation involves the three Ps of crisis management: predictions, protocols and practice.

Predictions

The first thing to do is try to predict the possible things that could go wrong: a faulty product batch, sabotage, an unexpected senior resignation etc. That way you can develop some likely positioning statements.

This is really when the lawyers should be consulted: before a crisis happens so that during a crisis actions can be taken swiftly using  holding statements that have been pre-prepared to meet the most likely eventualities.

Protocols

You also need to have protocols in place for responses: rules for how you will react and the responsibilities of individal team members. These should include:

  • Key messages including apologising (if appropriate), saying there is a plan for dealing with the problem; and committing to find out the cause so repetitions can be prevented
  • Guidelines on tone of voice to be used in various circumstances
  • Team structures that allow decisions to be made quickly and then empower individuals to execute agreed plans
  • Using an external person to feedback an “outside view” of proposed actions before they are implemented

Practice

And finally you need to practice. Getting colleagues to fire awkward questions or comments at you is one way of doing this: it will help you get used to using the pre-prepared holding statements as well as giving you  practice in responding according to the protocols you have agreed. Ideally you will create realistic crisis simulations: companies such as polpeo.com specialise in providing realistic training in online crisis management.

Predictions, protocols and practice: these won’t prevent a crisis – but they should stop a crisis turning into a full blown disaster.

If you would like more detailed advice about setting up systems to help you manage potential online PR crises then please get in touch with us on hello@mosoco.co.uk, @mosocolondon or 07855 341 589.

The real value of Twitter OTS

How many people will actually see my Tweet? It’s a question I am asked a lot. And it is a very hard one to answer.

It’s easy with TV. You measure how many people are watching an advert – or at least are  in the room with the TV on playing the relevant channel – and that’s your OTS (opportunity to see).

But measuring OTS  is more difficult with online media, especially with social media. With Twitter for instance, OTS is often equated to the “reach” of a tweet: in other words the number of people who could potentially have seen the tweet when it was posted, which is made up of  the followers of the tweeter together with the followers of anyone who re-tweeted it.

But is that a fair assumption? Does a tweet that delivered  10,000 OTS really deserve to be equated to a TV ad that delivered 10,000 OTS?

It is true I could potentially see any Tweet posted by someone I follow. But I could also switch on the TV in the daytime and watch the Duke on Bargain Hunt. However, TV doesn’t count me as having had an Opportunity To See an advert just because I was in the room with the TV off when it was aired!

Should Twitter be measured by its reach? I don’t think so. It simply isn’t true that having the opportunity to see a tweet when I am off line, or online but elsewhere, is the same as having the opportunity to see it when I am on Twitter.

So what is the real value of a tweet? I can’t find any research here. Presumably Twitter must know how often individual tweets are downloaded to people’s browsers. But without that data there is a need to make some assumptions. So here goes:

Using data I found at http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/march-2013-by-the-numbers-a-few-amazing-twitter-stats and http://www.beevolve.com/twitter-statistics/#b2 (approximated for convenience of this calculation):

IF the “average” user is on Twitter for 5 minutes a day (170 minutes a month), and

IF the average user tweets around 5 times a day, and

IF it I assume it takes 30 seconds to write a tweet (a total of 2.5 minutes a day for 5 tweets)

THEN the average twitter user has 2.5 minutes (or 150 seconds) a day available to read tweets.

IF the average twitter user follows 100 people,  and

IF the average user tweets around 5 times a day

THEN the average Twitter user will receive 500 tweets a day

IF it takes an average of 3 seconds to read a tweet (no evidence for that at all!)

THEN the average Twitter user is in a position to read 50 tweets a day, out of the 500 they receive

So that indicates the “real” OTS on Twitter is 10% of the reach.

Lots of assumptions in there, so is it rubbish, or a useful rule of thumb? And how similar is it for Facebook, LinkedIn etc? It would be nice to have some real research to prove this one way or another. But in the meantime I think I am going to carry on using my “divide reach by 10” rule. Unless you have a better idea!

5 steps to an effective social media strategy

Why are we investing in social media? What’s our strategy here? It’s an important question, and all too often one that isn’t adequately explored.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to develop an effective social media strategy. But it does take some structured thinking. Which is why we have created a simple 5 step process for developing a social media strategy.

5 step social media strategy process

5 step social media strategy process

Step 1: Understand what strategy really is

Understanding strategy is important for any organisation. But it is easy to get confused about what a strategy is, and what it isn’t. A strategy isn’t a marketing plan or a project to develop a new product. Strategy isn’t tactical.

At the business level, strategies are about identifying organisational goals, and long term (typically 2 to 5 years) planning to meet those goals by allocating appropriate resources.

But strategies can also be developed at an operational or functional level. So businesses can have social media strategies that define the purpose of social media activities and plan (typically over a period of 1 to 2 years) how to meet them. Two main elements to social media strategies then: what the goals are; and how we are going to achieve them.

So far, so theoretical. In step one there has to be senior level agreement as to how the project needs to be defined. This means appointing a senior project leader,  supported by a board level social media champion.

Step 2. Establish the scope of social media

The next step is to define the scope of  social media within the organisation. This must be done by the project leader leader and the social media champion. They will need to do this in order to agree exactly who should be included in the project team.

This is because social media means different things to different people. Does it include paid advertising on Facebook; does it include wikis; does it include reviews on Amazon; does it include social news and social book marking?

Depending on the organisation, there is a need to establish and agree precisely what fits into the social media space. Failing to do this may lead to confusions and disagreements at a later stage. More importantly it may result in important goals being left out of the project.

Step 3. Agree the goals for social media

What are the reasons for investing in social media? It could be many things. For one of Mosoco’s clients it is purely about CRM. For another, it is about establishing thought leadership.

There is no right or wrong answer. The reasons for spending time with social media can include a variety of marketing goals including:

• Marketing intelligence
• Brand promotion
• Brand positioning

But it doesn’t just have to be focussed on marketing. There can be sales goals too such as:

• Lead generation
• CRM
• Loyalty building

There might even be a need to influence stakeholders who are not customers such as:

• Employees
• Suppliers
• Investors
• Legislators

It’s complicated. So the social media team needs to take some time establishing social media goals, and agreeing how these fit with wider organisational goals.

Step 4. Agree on objectives and how to achieve them

This is where it gets busy! Goals are fairly broad but objectives need to be narrow and precise: they need to define:

• The current position
• The desired position
• The methods and resources that will be employed to achieve the desired position

Objectives need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time based). So if one of our social media goals is lead generation we need to define:

• How many (and what sort of) leads are currently generated via social media
• How many we want to generate in the future
• What methods we will use to achieve this
• Who will be responsible for implementing the methods
• What resources they will have, and
• How long they will be given

In practical terms some of the issues that need to be addressed are:

• Which platforms do our target audience use
• Of those platforms, which will be best for achieving our goals
• How will we achieve our goals on each platform, for instance:

  • Will we be proactive or reactive (e.g. engage with prospects directly on Facebook but use Twitter to understand customer concerns)
  • Will we use different platforms at different times to achieve different things (e.g. promote an event on Google+and a competition on Facebook
  • Will we have a different tone of voice on different platforms (e.g. more formal on LinkedIn and more approachable on Pinterest)

• What tools do we need (e.g. planning tools like Hashtagify, measurement tools like TweetReach, an editorial calendar, a tool for scheduling posts like buffer app, a budget for creating images and info-graphics)

Step 5. Lather, rinse and repeat

It isn’t easy to get social media activities right first time. Being able to measure the effect of our investment is key to any strategy. If we have considered our goals carefully and agreed SMART objectives we should know what success looks like.

And it may not look much like what we have achieved initially! If that’s the case, don’t panic. In any hard-to-predict activity like social media it is important to be confident and flexible, and to have an iterative approach to activities.

Measure, analyse, learn and improve.

If you would like to know more about developing your social media strategy then drop us a line at hello@mosoco.co.uk or call us on 07855 341 589.

Five free tools to help you measure your influence on Twitter

Twitter is undoubtedly a very important medium for most businesses. One of the big questions people ask is “what sort of return am I getting back for my investment?” Any return on investment is likely to have two components:

  • the influence of any activity on Twitter: how many people see it and how long any effect persists for
  • the nature of the sentiment generated by the activity: whether it is positive, negative or neutral

This article looks at influence. There are a number of free tools available. Some of these allow you to look at only one site, while others allow you to compare several sites.

Given the nature of social media and the difficulty in measuring the effects accurately, we prefer tools that allow you to compare, either your own influence over time, or your own influence against the influence of your competitors, and we have listed five of our favourite free tools here.

Twitonomy.com

Great for: General statistics

Twitonomy is a great tool for monitoring your own activity on Twitter and comparing it with that of your competitors. It is a really good place to start. Under the Profile tab it provides easy to understand statistics and graphs on a whole range of basic important statistics including:

  • General data on the account you are looking at: how many tweets were sent and when they were sent; how often the content is re-tweeted
  • Most popular topics: What content was re-tweeted and which tweets were favourited the most; what hash tags were used by your competitor
  • Most useful people: which people your competitors engaged with; the people on lists that your competitor is also on

twitonomy

Tweetlevel.com

Great for: comparing influence levels

Tweetlevel enables you to analyse particular twitter accounts and rate them in terms of their influence. You can also compare the influence of several different accounts and build up a picture of where your brand sits within the comparative set.

In the example below you can see that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have some way to go before they equal Ed Miliband’s influence on Twitter.

tweetlevel

As well as a pictorial representation of influence, the tool also shows you:

  • Popularity score – related to the number of followers you have
  • Engagement score –  related to the frequency with which people engage with you
  • Influence score – related to the number of followers who find you interesting
  • Trust score – related to the frequency your content is re-tweeted

Foller.me

Great for: finding out what other people are talking about

Foller.me looks at the last 100 tweets about a particular twitter name (your brand, your competitors, an event etc) and provides a useful analysis that includes some of the basics you will get in tools like Twitonomy.

foller

Its particular strength is the way it includes an analysis of the topics discussed in the form of a word cloud, together with hashtags used and mentions given.

Tweetstats

Great for: finding out when your competitors are tweeting

Tweetstats is good for finding when people are tweeting. With it you can time your tweets to coincide with or avoid theirs, depending on what you are trying to do.

tweetstats

Tweetreach.com

Great for: micro examination of individual tweets

Tweetreach is a nice way of seeing how far your influence reaches. The free version provides you with a snapshot of the estimated reach and impressions of up to 50 of the most recent tweets for a particular hashtag or string of text – including a whole tweet if you want to track how a particular tweet went, together with data on the timeline, contributors and the people who re-tweeted it.

tweetreach

We will look at Free tools that help you measure sentiment in a future post.