Magazine article Marketing

Greater Insight: How Social Measures Up in the Marketing Mix

Magazine article Marketing

Greater Insight: How Social Measures Up in the Marketing Mix

Article excerpt

Social media can undoubtedly be a powerful marketing tool, but how should you make the most effective use of it? Meg Carter spoke to four key marketers across a range of sectors to discuss their approach to the platform.

Social media has become widely recognised as a powerful tool for engagement, influence and activation. Yet for all the talk of the dawning of a new age of social marketing, brand-owners' understanding of how best to research and evaluate social - and harness its potential as a research tool in its own right - has often lagged behind.

The '2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report', published by Social Media Examiner earlier this year, found that 92% of marketers claimed social media was important to their business - up from 86% in just 12 months. Yet just one in three of the marketers surveyed agreed that they were able to measure their social activities.

Social-media research has come a long way, thanks to partnerships struck between social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and, of course, third-party analytics providers. Moreover, a growing array of measurement tools now provides insight beyond social engagement to examine subtler measures - such as the relationship between social media and offline sales.

Rising numbers of social users, meanwhile, have led to the maturing of social as a communications platform. However, this has also accelerated social-platform-owners' desire to draw revenue streams on the back of these users. This is a primary driver of Facebook's move toward becoming a paid-for media channel and the accompanying decline in organic reach for brands using it.

Against this backdrop, then, more brand owners are investing a greater amount of time and resources in social research. They are also tackling an array of research issues in their exploration of how best to evolve their social research and in which direction.


Ian Pring, research and insight manager, Transport for London

Transport for London (TfL) began using social media to broadcast travel-service updates, product information, tips and alerts in 2009 Since 2012, however, social-media monitoring has been a key driver of customer service.

So, while TfL still uses social to communicate information, it also analyses social chat about its services to identify and map what Pring describes as 'pain and pleasure points'.

Typically, this involves working with external research agencies, which now undertake social- media monitoring of TfL-related social content alongside a range of other standard research measures. But it has also involved using social-media analytics software to update and improve the accuracy of its service updates by listening in to what its customers are saying.

''Exposure to social media' is now a standard measure for any TfL campaign with a social component - alongside more-standard measures, such as 'exposure to ads' or 'visits to websites',' says Pring.

'In this respect, our approach has been pretty standard since we started using social media. What has changed, however, has been the growing importance of social-media monitoring as a research tool.'

Closely monitoring not just what customers say to TfL via social, but conversations about TfL that customers have with each other, is now a powerful customer-service development tool.

'As a brand that has a direct impact on the lives of millions of Londoners, we use social to understand both pain and pleasure points to show senior management what needs fixing and what impact something has had,' he adds. 'In this way social has become a powerful service development tool - though, as with any research tool these days, it is virtually never used on its own.'

The opportunity lies in the immediacy and added dimension to any research programme that social provides. The challenge, however, lies in processing the information generated, rather than finding new opportunities to use social in different ways. …

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