Measuring, analysing and benchmarking your social activity is essential. It highlights what you are doing well, when you need to improve, and whether you are delivering what your customers want. But in truth, social media isn’t about promoting your business at all. It’s about engaging with your community (something easier said than done) – or at least that’s what Lucy Wren, Head of Social Media at Barclaycard believes.

Last week Lucy joined us as guest speaker for our Social Speakeasy event in London. A real people-person, she took an interactive approach to the event by asking for questions from the audience rather than delivering a presentation. And it didn’t take much persuasion for guests to get involved by posing their tough questions!

Measuring the social value

Measuring the social value is a challenge for many brands. But as we discovered at the Social Speakeasy, it can be done! Barclaycard, a global credit card business, has made real advances in recent years under Lucy’s guidance. Namely in getting the business in a fit state to measure.

In Barclaycard’s case, it was important to get strategies and models in place. There is a degree of trial and error involved, particularly for an old world company adopting new world social. So mapping social metrics to high level business and commercial marketing objectives was vital to be able to prove the long-term value of social media. After all, this is what will resonate and speak volumes to the board.

The number of fans and followers is unlikely to deliver the best indication of the real value of a brand’s social community. Instead, competitive benchmarking – even internally using past measurement results – will help businesses to understand and better their online performance.

Reacting to opportunities

There’s more to it than strategising, however. Identifying opportunities to improve your impact in the digital space means getting the right people and the right tools in place. These will have the greatest impact on your social performance. As Lucy pointed out, social is still very labour intensive, particularly when some of the cornerstone metrics that are relevant to your brand are engagement and positive sentiment like Barclaycard! And as immediate future’s CEO Katy Howell pointed out, measuring sentiment is subjective, so machine automated measurement just won’t cut it.

Social Speakeasy guest speaker Barclaycard shares reactivity operating modelBut there really are two sides to every story; as human influences can skew figures too. In which case, it’s important to plan for every eventuality. Something that Barclaycard has managed beautifully with its Reactivity Operating Model. That, and a whole load of reporting!

Reporting, reporting, reporting, and more reporting!

Meaningful reporting is quite different to churning out thousands of figures, though. And while an organisation like Barclaycard runs daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly reports (phew!) to discover what content resonates with their audience, including content type and the best times to post, it also has the resource to do so. Not every business can apply the same measurement model.

Barclaycard reveals report mapping at Social SpeakeasyStill, despite the wealth of data that is gathered on customers, many marketers agree that the challenge remains when matching individual customers back to their efforts in social… That’s something that Lucy and her team are still working on.

Social is marketing, marketing is social

Despite the fact that Lucy is working with a dedicated team to monitor the brand’s social performance, integrating the social marketing team with the rest of the business can still be tricky. Social and Marketing need to be in alignment to personalise individual conversations and to deliver experiences that audiences who share common values and interests in the business can benefit from – while customer service is having an increasingly important influence in the online space, another viewpoint to be aware of.

In which case, social can often mean a cultural change for traditional vendors when departments cross over. Educating other departments as well as the board is what it takes to get buy-in nowadays. And despite being a business channel for ten years, social media still needs to prove its value. It means that measuring the social value is an everyday occurrence, which is why you need to listen to your audience, and why you need to map your results back to the bottom line. As Lucy said, you have to prove your worth online first to be able to prove your worth to the board.

But there are no limits to the ways in which you can identify, trial and refine the metrics behind your social media communications. In time, the right strategy can increase customer interactions, create brand evangelists from fans and followers, and radically improve marketing performance. The challenge then becomes how to consistently deliver those high levels of quality engagement over time. Often, in the fast moving social space, time is of the essence.

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