Why Benchmarking is Essential to Social Media Success
Once you’ve embraced Social Media, formulated a strategy and delegated responsibility for its execution to your employees or a specialist agency, it’s time to think about how to measure your performance online. As Peter Drucker famously once said (and millions have repeated after him): ‘If you can’t measure, you can’t manage it’. Consequently, if you can’t manage it – you can’t improve it.
There are different Social Media channels and different strategies to suite different businesses. Businesses have unequal resources and quite different ambitions from their Social Media efforts. Whatever your business, and whatever your goals may be, the first thing you need to do after deciding on your Social Media strategy is to set up KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) by which to measure its success.
The KPIs you choose should be specific to your business and its intended goals. However, we have produced a template which includes many of the metrics you might find useful.
- Number of posts on active networks: the quantity of posts on your active Social Media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Number of blog posts: record the number of blog posts separately.
- c. Response rate: recently Facebook and several other Social Media channels introduced this metric that shows the average time it takes you or a member of your Social Media team to respond to a post or comment.
- Fans/Followers: number of people who follow you on each of your social networks.
- Influence score: introduced by Klout, your influence score is a composite score showing the influence of your brand across all networks.
- Impressions: the number of people who saw your posts. You might want to consider measuring separately whether it was organic or paid reach.
- Likes rate: number of likes (favourites, +1s, etc) you generate for each post.
- Comment rate: number of comments you attract by each piece of content.
- Share rate: number of shares (retweets, repins or regrams) of each post.
If you have been brave enough to start Social Media Advertising, or you have at least have started using Facebook’s Call-to-action Button, you can put a monetary value on those visitors you have managed to convert into leads.
- Cost per conversion: if you are running Ads, calculate how much every new like or follow cost you.
- Conversion rate: if you have a Call-to-Action Button, note how many people click and complete the associated action: (whether it’s a sign-up, download or shop now button).
- Average order value: if you are in retail or an e-commerce business, you can easily track the average value of any order that has been acquired via social media.
Over time you will include additional metrics relevant to your specific objectives. But measuring your performance is only half of the process. Once you have your numbers, how do you know if they are any good?
At one of our meetings, a potential client boasted that her posts each got an average of 3-4 likes. You might think this shows consistency, but don’t be so hasty. With more than 10K likes on her page, this client’s engagement rate was only 0.03%. Does that sound impressive to you? Not so much.
If you really want to understand how well you are performing, you have to measure yourself against something or someone. Regularly measuring your KPIs in this way is called benchmarking. There are several benchmarking techniques you can use to improve the effectiveness of your Social Media Marketing and gain a competitive edge.
Take a selection of businesses from around the world who are absolutely the best at what you do. You might be humbled by their success, but you can also regard these as models of success for you to emulate. If you’re not sure who you should be emulating, try a Google search for nationally ranked businesses like you, or look out for those businesses featured in the industry press.
This measures your current performance against your own recent and historic performance, as well as against any pre-determined goals and objectives. It’s not something that would be useful for a business starting out with Social Media Benchmarking, but it is a useful way of making sure you are seeing continual growth and improvement.
For businesses undertaking social media advertising, you need to look at the financial metrics of each campaign (conversion rates, click through rates, etc) and compare them over time. When you are managing sales promotions or seasonal products, it’s essential to understand quickly and accurately which campaigns are working and which are not.
When you’re starting out, this will be the most useful kind of benchmarking for your business. Take half as dozen of your competitors (or even comparable businesses which are not competitive with you), perhaps because they have been moved elsewhere. If you are performing more highly on social media than most of your peers, then this is the first step towards establishing brand dominance within your area of specialization.
We always recommend starting out with a series of Aspirational and Competitor Benchmarks. These are the most immediately useful but also the easiest to implement. As you manage to run campaigns and generate relevant data, you can start to introduce Earned benchmarking criteria, before thinking about Trended analyses.
Don’t think you should put this off until you’re better established. Benchmarking is part of a learning process, the sooner you start, the more data will be available to you and the sooner you can begin to improve.
Finally, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the benefits of Benchmarking straightaway. Remember that it will be increasingly effective the more you do it. Stick with it and monitor your performance regularly. You will be able to stay up to date with the latest trends and one step ahead of your competition.