The not so simple measurement of Social Media

According to Forrester Research companies will spend an estimated $3.1 billion annually on social media by 2014. In a poll conducted by MarketingProfs in June 2009 more than 70% of respondents felt that their companies were not adequately measuring the impact of social media campaigns in terms of tangible results. The poll investigated how companies were using social media monitoring and discovered that brand reputation management and prospecting came out on top.

The results demonstrated that companies are not yet able to measure accurately their social media activity, even though they have an understanding of the crucial importance of such metrics.

What the poll showed was that many marketers reported that for social media measurement they were using web analytics packages such as Google Analytics, Omniture, and Webtrends to quantify results.

The key to measurement is to have a clear strategy and to then establish what your metrics are before you start a campaign. In short, set out what you want to learn and how best to measure that information.

This is precisely what TurboTax did two years ago when embarking on a social media campaign to build a brand reputation amongst a new and younger generation of taxpayers.

Social Media Case study 1 – TurboTax

TurboTax is a provider of financial management solutions to mid-sized consumers and financial professionals. It is a NASDAQ listed company based in Mountain View California.

The Approach:

TurboTax partnered with MySpace and co-sponsored the Secret Shows initiative, where big acts such as Lily Allen and Fall Out Boy performed in intimate clubs with an invitation only audience.In addition, they hired Tay Zonday ( famous for his Chocolate Rain YouTube video) to write a song about the campaign and travel with the Secret Shows. They also created a SuperStatus contest in which participants were asked a series of questions by updating their status on Facebook, Twitter or The winners received substantial cash prizes.

The Measurement:

TurboTax used primarily Web analytics to measure the effectiveness of the campaign, plus Radian6, a social media monitoring solution to help choose the prizewinners.

The goal was to understand the impact a contestant’s participation had on his or her social network. TurboTax used surveys that contestants sent to friends and followers. Web analytics were used to measure activity on websites and videos as well as tracking the downloads of the SuperStatus widget, which participants used to get updated contest questions.

Overall results were impressive with over 165 million audience impressions, which drove over 100,000 people to the contest. TurboTax discovered a 10 percent lift in purchase intent amongst the 6,000 direct SuperStatus participants. During the campaign quarter, sales increased by 36 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.


Social Media Case Study 2 BSkyB

BSkyB partly owned by News Corp UK is a FTSE 100 company. Sky One their flag ship family channel briefed Intelligent Positioning to promote and add value to the reality TV music contest, Must Be The Music.

The Background:

In August 2010, Sky One launched the first of a series of Must Be The Music, a reality TV contest. Support within social media, given the youthful nature of the target audience, was essential to push the brand and enhance awareness of the show, its fifteen contestant semi finalists and four celebrity judges.

The aim was to:

1. Attract viewers to the show through increased brand awareness.

2. Encourage fans to buy the I-Tunes download immediately after the shows.

3. Sell merchandise to the fans of each Act.

4. Track and measure the impact of social media mentions.

The Challenge:

Having been invited into the project at a late stage, Intelligent Positioning had the challenge of creating sixty four social media assets in YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter for all fifteen Acts, their Management teams, PR’s as well as over 100 different personnel.

Intelligent Positioning engaged in maintenance of the assets, photo and video uploads, re-designs, linking, and up to the minute responses to fans. It created content, brand guidelines, and fan interaction with varying levels of inputs and interaction from the Acts. During the shows, Intelligent Positioning’s team was backstage tweeting live and interacting on Facebook with fans, whilst providing technical development and design team assistance at all times. A further challenge was responding to press comments and enhancing positive celebrity mentions.

The Measurement:

Intelligent Positioning gathered a wide range of data from different sources, aligning Brandwatch’s analysis of the show’s social media mentions and pre-selected keywords, with traffic from the owned assets of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube. Intelligent Positioning linked this with Sky’s own domain analysis from Omniture to measure the holistic effect.

The result was a total increase of ninety seven per cent in all unique visitors compared to the same period in the previous year. Sky One traffic more than doubled from the previous year, achieving a one hundred and twelve per cent increase.


Through these experiences it is reasonable to conclude that social media measurement and monitoring cannot be placed into an easily structured equation. Social media is still in the early days of development and the sector is in a constant state of flux. So it is important to be flexible with your approach to measurement and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Here is a simple guideline to help:

  1. Establish you strategy.
  2. Create your social media objectives.
  3. Decide what you want to measure and which metrics are best suited to those measurements.
  4. Determine data on a pre, during, and post campaign basis.
  5. Compare to the same period of the previous year and factor in and out any distortions.
  6. Determine a financial value for customers that engage with your brand within the social networks.
  7. Factor into your ROI measurement any cost savings that result from customer listening and brand suggestions and criticisms made online.
  8. Link these measurements into an integrated ROI on all your marketing communications activities.
  9. With ROI there is always a balance to be struck between empirical data and qualitative assessment of the brand’s campaign performance.

One final thought, don’t just collect social media data for measurement, use it to gain insights into your brand’s broader customer engagement as well as your competitors. You will be surprised at what is revealed.

Garry Titterton is CEO of Intelligent Positioning.