Predictability of Social Media Marketing Campaigns

predicting social media resultsSocial media marketing is matured. It’s not in its infancy anymore – we see less hype and more proof of results. There is a clear industry transformation from guesstimation and vague resemblance of meaningful KPIs to a more scientific approach with measurable results and data analysis.

Here are some facts related to social analytics:

  1. Over a year ago Google added social analytics section to its analytics platform. So now businesses can analyze not only direct conversions coming from different social networks, but also assisted conversions, which is extremely important. As with any type of marketing only low percent of visitors convert right away, and addition of assistant conversions helps to provide better picture of actual commercial impact of social interactions.
  2.  Major social networks now have their own analytics tools that could be used to dive in and dissect every aspect of user interactions – we have Twitter analytics, Pinterest analytics, Linkedin analytics for company pages, and of course Facebook analytics. Facebook analytics, especially after recent addition of Facebook insights, is by far the most comprehensive analytics platform around. And it is freely available to all Facebook advertisers.
  3.  While Tumblr and Instagram do not have their own analytics yet (to the best of my knowledge), you can use Google analytics and the whole slew of 3d party analytics tools to analyze various aspects of social media activity in these social networks.
  4. Of course, 3d party analytics tools are available not only for Tumblr or Instagram, but for the majority of social networks, big and small, general and industry-specific. They are spreading like wildfire catering to particular business needs to further enhance social media analysis.

The ROI of social media marketing campaign is still one of the most difficult factors to predict in digital marketing industry due to highly volatile chain effect.

On Facebook, likes and comments can cause increased post shares and vice versa – which in turn can increase post feed ranking – which can increase organic reach – which can increase exposure.

On Twitter, favorites and replies cause the literal growth of a tweet (when viewed from Twitter platform, it appears larger than non-engaged tweets) – which increases tweet visibility – which can spur the number of re-tweets – which can stimulate organic reach – which can increase exposure.

On Google Plus, Pinterest, Linkedin and other social media channels we can observe similar chain reaction as well.

(Dashes in examples above are used to visually demonstrate a chain effect.)

In essence, each of these steps can potentially cause a butterfly effect and turn your campaign into viral hurricane. Unfortunately, you never know which auction will cause this viral effect or whether it will be triggered at all during your campaign.

Viral side of social media marketing is uncontrollable and can’t be calculated in advance, it’s not reliable and should be considered as a pleasant (and sometimes huge) bonus.

While viral effect is unpredictable, usual results of social media marketing campaigns can be predicted with pretty much the same probability as the results of PPC marketing and other paid advertisements.

Companies that run professional social media marketing campaigns rather than treat social marketing as a sporadic activity,  know their metrics (ie: normal reach, traffic and conversions for tweets/ Facebook updates/ Pinterest pins, etc.), and can use them to deliver predictable and desirable marketing outcome.

Plus, with a roaster of analytics tools to track and analyze each step of the campaign, it’s now easier to identify the most successful episodes and use them as building blocks in future campaigns.

After all, this is what social media marketing strategy is all about – test, identify the winning combination of campaign elements, engage, build influence and reach, drive traffic, increase ROI, enjoy new customers. Rinse and repeat.

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