Like. Tweet. Follow. Mention. Comment. What do these all mean to a marketer?

There’s no doubt that social has gone loco in the past few years and every big brand worth its marketing salt is investing in a strong social presence as part of their multichannel strategy.

But so what? What is social delivering?

What is it adding to the marketing mix, and how do we know if you’re any good at it?

The big challenge with social right now is data. 

A recent Econsultancy report highlighted the social paradox – it’s the area of marketing with the highest growth in terms of investment yet it’s the channel we struggle most to measure in terms of impact.

There are a few contributing factors; the lack of clarity in terms of metrics that define success, confusion about what data you are permitted to collect and how to interpret this data.

Let’s start with measurement metrics. 

A marketing director at Diageo recently commented that “size matters” and was subject to a fair amount of flak from his peers and experts.

Initial attempts at measuring social success were based on number of likes or followers; but any good database marketer knows you can have 2m people on the database, but if they are not actively engaging with your brand then they are not delivering value.

Social is about driving conversation and engagement and any measurement should be based around these areas.

What am I allowed to do? 

There seems to be apprehension and uncertainty relating to social data and permissions, probably because some of the rules and regulations are currently being defined.

Obviously you need to follow the letter of the law and, if in doubt, there are countless experts who can tell you the legal standpoint on this data.

However, I think the easiest approach to social data involves our dear old friend common sense. You should treat social as you do other channels.

Consider what data will be useful to you and only put effort into this data.

But don’t just think about what you want, think about it from the consumer’s perspective and what is acceptable to use from an ethical standpoint.

The best decisions will be made by marketers who also think about the consumer’s point of view.

What does social data mean?

We all know data is useless without some interpretation; data needs to be translated into insight that is actionable.

Social data is often collected and approached with ‘that’s interesting’ versus ‘I know X therefore we will do Y’.

Having clear goals from social will help you define actions based on the data you collect; if you’re know what you’re looking to achieve then modelling or data interpretation will have a direction. 

But social is not an island

Social data should not be considered in isolation. You’re missing a trick if you don’t consider what you can glean from social to help inform your other channels and marketing across the spectrum. Data is most powerful when you have the bigger picture.

So like data, it can provide you with insight.