In 2018 it’s difficult to imagine a successful marketing campaign that doesn’t have social media elements. But how do we know if our social campaign is contributing to business goals and giving us a good return on investment? While evaluation is key to answering this complex question, it can be overlooked, especially if timing and budgets are tight.
Is evaluation worth it?
Evaluating the success of a social media campaign needn’t be a burden. In this article we offer our five top tips for making evaluation a core element right from the start. All social media campaigns are different, so depending on your goals, some tips may be more relevant for your campaign than others.
Our top tips
These tips can be applied to organic social media campaigns and paid social ad campaigns.
1. Keep an eye on your competitors
What are your competitors doing? Before you launch your campaign compare and evaluate your social platforms, strategies and efforts to those of your competitors. Analyse their social platforms: who are there followers, what kinds of content are they posting and how often, what level of engagement have they achieved? You may be surprised at how much you can learn from successful – and not so successful – social campaigns.
This knowledge will help shape your strategies so that your campaign has a better chance of standing out from the online crowd.
2. Know your social goals
At the start of planning your social media campaign, ask yourself, what do you want to achieve, what are your social media goals? These should align with your business goals and should be quantifiable.
Recording social metrics, such as likes, comments, shares and re-tweets is only valuable if the information is put to good use.
Are you trying to increase brand awareness, engage communities, get more website visitors or generate revenue?
Answering these questions will determine what success looks like for your campaign. And if this is your oganisation’s first foray into social, evaluation results can also serve as a benchmark for assessing future campaigns.
3. Choose what you need to measure wisely
Your goals will help determine what metrics to use to measure the success of your campaign.
Each platform has its own metrics; for example Facebook uses ‘likes’ to quantify how many people have chosen to like your page; on Twitter people may ‘heart’ your posts and may also become one of your ‘followers’. You don’t need to measure them all. Campaign goals will dictate the metrics that are most relevant to you.
If your goal is to increase brand awareness, you will be interested in audience engagement including increase in followers, reach, shares, retweets and mentions.
Metrics can also tell you if campaign content resonates with your target audience. Below are some of the most useful forms of feedback.
Audience engagement: the number of unique users, who have clicked, liked, commented on or shared your campaign content. Engagement shows that people are interested in the information you’re providing. (In an age of information overload, it’s a big deal if someone takes the time to like, share or click a link.)
Reactions, including likes, shares and comments: fall under the umbrella of audience engagement. They display how many people are interacting with your social content. Also what is the sentiment of these reactions, are they positive, negative or neutral? This will tell you if your content is being received well from your audiences.
Page likes/followers: the number of unique people who like/follow your page/account. Tracking growth over time is an important metric, especially if you aim to increase brand awareness.
Post reach: the total number of people who see your content/post. This metric is important for most campaigns, particularly when the goals are brand awareness and/or community engagement.
Impressions: the number of times the content was seen, regardless of whether users engaged with the post or not. When your goal is to increase brand awareness, impressions is a useful metric to follow.
Link clicks: the number of clicks to your content or website. This metric tells you if your audience is interested in finding out more and is relevant when your goals are to increase brand awareness, engagement and drive traffic to your website.
4. Evaluate at the start, middle and end
Unless you evaluate throughout the campaign, you may find yourself at the end buried under thousands of comments, shares, re-tweets etc. wondering what it all means. We recommend checking your campaign metrics at least daily – or more often depending on the amount of engagement you receive. Tracking as you go gives you a better sense of emerging sentiment and themes, which will inform any necessary changes to content.
Something we find helpful is developing daily or weekly dot point summaries of sentiment and themes as you go, then collating them at the end.
It can be helpful to take screenshots of positive as well as negative comments. Recording this engagement will help assess audience responses to campaign content and help illustrate social impact to clients.
5. Update and adapt your strategy as you go
Campaigns are rarely perfect from the get-go, and this is fine. Until you know what your target audience will respond well to, campaigns will often need reshaping and adapting.
Tracking your metrics will tell you if you’re receiving the results you were anticipating.
Dominant social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are also constantly changing and updating their algorithms, which may influence campaign tactics and approach.
This may include changing your target audience demographics, the type of content and/or the social platform. Choosing the best platform for your specific type of content is important. For example, you would probably choose to advertise a professional service on business and employment social networking service LinkedIn instead of Facebook.