Most companies know they need to look at social media as part of their overall marketing mix, but many struggle with finding measurement numbers to clearly prove its value to management.
There isn't yet one globally accepted tool or platform to achieve this goal. And despite all the buzz about new social media programs that offer valuable measurement tools for marketers, there remains a lot of mystery around the art of measurement.
Several platforms exist today, but they tend to be more narrowly focused on measuring the overall online influence of individuals. Free platforms like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader all attempt to assign a score (usually between 1 and 100), based on the analysis of several variables that can show the impact and reach a person might have in the online world.
While these are valuable tools, there is still so much more that companies want to measure in terms of the return on their social media investments.
One company getting a lot of attention in the social media measurement space is Syncapse Corp.
It has developed a platform that manages social media efforts across multiple channels and markets, but also integrates measurement tools to help businesses monitor in real-time.
Its platform helps translate social media campaigns into easy-to-understand success metrics like earned media value, fan engagement and efficiency of spend across owned social channels. Since the Syncapse platform tracks and measures in real time, companies can quickly see what is working and what isn't, and can adjust their social media campaigns as they go.
"As consumers turn to social media to research purchases, consume news and communicate with family and friends, brands have the potential to engage with their audience where they are spending time. Syncapse grew so quickly because we were able to provide the software and services businesses needed to solve the issues of managing communications across several social media sites," said Michael Scissons, Syncapse's founder and chief executive officer.
"One such problem was measurement, and that is a key component of what we offer our clients. Without an understanding of how social media can deliver measurable value, marketers will struggle to demonstrate its value compared to more traditional forms of media like television or print."
Like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader, the Syncapse platform also helps to identify key influencers for businesses, so marketers can maximize their online efforts and generate results.
One company that's seen the value is Labatt Breweries of Canada.
"The most exciting feature of the Syncapse platform is providing visibility into our key influencers, allowing Labatt to recognize and reward our most engaged consumers directly," said J.R. Edwards, head of media and sponsorships at Labatt.
"This direct conversation with our consumers is the customer relationship management dream for marketers, and one we're working with Syncapse to make a reality."
For small businesses, platforms like those offered by Klout, Syncapse and others can clearly show management the value of social media across several channels – whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.
Whether highlighting earned media value of a social media campaign, or the influence score of a Facebook fan, there are new tools available to small businesses that can help prove to management that social media is a key part of an integrated strategy and delivers real business value.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.
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