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The Marketer Quest to Measure Meaningful Influence


Measuring the performance and resulting impact of a marketing organization has always been difficult -- particularly where the primary metrics tend to be quantitative, and few are qualitative. Today, most marketers would like to demonstrate meaningful online influence as their key performance indicator (KPI). But when capturing that metric proves to be elusive, they attempt to refocus their monitoring efforts on target stakeholder engagement.

By far, the more common outcome that's reported, however, tends to be counting activity-oriented or event-oriented metrics (clicks, impressions, etc.).

eMarketer reports that companies now realize that amassing fans and followers is not the ultimate goal of social media marketing. Yet the challenge remains -- how to measure marketing success that a chief executive would gladly reward.

Data from the August 2011 Chief Marketer “2011 Social Marketing Survey” found that only 26 percent of marketing professionals saw amassing total followers as an aim for social media marketing. More popular goals included driving traffic to a website (66%), generating sales or leads (48%), and identifying and addressing brand fans (47%).

What have marketers been doing to reach these goals? The most common tactic among survey respondents was including a social sharing button in emails or on a company website, with 69 percent of respondents. Additionally, 59 percent offered unique content for social media fans and followers, 58 percent had a Facebook “like” button on their websites and social pages, and 54 percent posted videos to social video sites.

eMarketer observed that despite the strategic intent by marketers was to focus more on active engagement, measurement tactics still focus on numbers. The Chief Marketer study found that 60 percent of respondents counted the number of friends, followers and likes as a leading method of measuring social media marketing success. Additionally, 39 percent highlighted sharing, forwarding, retweeting and posting brand content, while 35 percent said they track qualified leads from social media.

eMarketer concluded that the way most marketers currently measure their performance shows that there's a major disconnect between the stated objectives and the actual execution of monitoring and reporting practices.

The data found that only 13 percent of respondents thought they were "very effective" at measuring social media campaigns, while 47 percent said "somewhat effective," and the honest 28 percent said "not very effective" and 12 percent said "not at all effective."

Savvy marketers should start by investing in the extra effort required to measure consumer engagement with their content. By monitoring stakeholder sentiment online, and by performing ongoing analysis of the apparent trends, they should be able to see how social media activities impact business results.

Ultimately, marketers must strive to attain an understanding of how their investment in programs and campaigns equate to meaningful influence in the marketplace. Stakeholder influence is the metric that many chief executives value the most -- since it can significantly effect other key aspects of business performance.

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