Do you ever have a hard time deciding which social media data is really important to pull and measure? Once you have the data, do you ever have trouble figuring out its practical applications vis-a-vis your communications strategy? You're not alone. At the upcoming PR News Measurement Conference, April 20-21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., we'll have a panel of presenters who will speak to these issues from experience, and help you make better sense of social measurement.
We took the opportunity for a quick Q&A with one of those presenters—Paul Englert, vice president, marketing with C. Mondavi & Family—to get a basic sense of his views on the matter.
PR News: Can you give any examples of how social insights have caused you to alter your communications or marketing strategy recently?
Paul Englert: We recently launched a new cause marketing brand called Purple Heart. It is a brand we developed with The Purple Heart Foundation. We make an annual donation to the foundation, which benefits a variety of veterans’ needs. Using social insights from our initial brand posts, we were able to better understand which messaging resonated with consumers. We were able to balance messaging concerning the charitable cause and the quality of the wine in a way that proved more engaging to our social media audience.
PR News: What’s your stance on which metrics are actually valuable for insight, vs. so-called “vanity metrics”?
Englert: It’s easy to dismiss vanity metrics, since a particular metric may not be one that moves the bottom line. There was a time when "likes" seemed more meaningful, but the rules have changed and engaging these followers isn’t as easy as it once was. That said, we still look at vanity metrics in conjunction with engagement metrics. When launching a new channel or sending out a new post, we look at ratios such as share:like, which let us see how many people are taking an extra step to help us get our message out. Many say “it’s not likes, it’s engagement” but even engagement doesn’t automatically lead to stronger revenue growth.
For our brands, I like to look at total reach, engagement and action. How much total reach are we able to generate organically vs. paid? What percentage of the audience is pausing to let us know they like what we are saying and how many are willing to become advocates by sharing or commenting? Attrition rates are always enlightening: Pay as much attention to people exiting as you pay to getting people to enter. We then look to engage our most influential followers and create dialogues with them. This way, we enable their influence to amplify our message and potentially give us a seal of approval.
In the wine business, there are tens of thousands of products out there, and the likelihood of a consumer liking a post and being motivated to search for us and ultimately buy us at retail is infinitesimal. But by creating engaging content, building a relationship and making an online purchase simple, we can be more successful. If we can make them feel more like they’re buying Girl Scout cookies from their friend’s daughter, we stand a chance of monetizing our social media efforts.
PR News: What advice do you have for someone who wants to use data to measure their efforts? Where do you start?
Englert: Start with the basics and talk to people who have waded into the river before you. Before you subscribe to a dozen social media tracking services that you don’t have the time to understand, try different posting strategies to improve your reach and engagement, spend a little money promoting posts to ensure a witty or insightful post reaches an audience and stretch your dollars by targeting by gender, age, geography and interest if you suspect you know your audience well. Start measuring your success by using the analytics offered in the social media channels; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer decent analytics and don’t require learning proprietary analytical terms that only a handful of people understand. Even with a small audience, you can test various posting strategies and content to see what resonates. If you can, try to inject a little fun into your social media. Your social media efforts don’t have to replace Wikipedia or Google searches as the place people get all of their information, but your posts are where your humor, your caring, your insights can make a difference. Show your witty side, your caring side and see what your audience responds to.
PR News: Any thoughts on the difference between marketing and PR when it comes to social measurement? For instance, which one is easier to measure and why?
Englert: Marketing and public relations professionals will be looking for many of the same things. In rare cases I’ve considered social media communications that, as a marketer, I believe would generate awareness and engagement via a little controversy or provocation. But the PR-minded side of me reminds me to be diligent managing my brands’ reputations and integrity by steering clear of these messages.
My gut tells me that PR social measurement is easier to talk about in meetings. I look at likes and followers much in the way I’ve looked at potential impressions information PR agencies have sent me over the years. They sound really good, but I’m not sure they’re making me any money. You can deliver a message to a large audience, but I’ve always preferred delivering a quality message to a smaller audience over delivering an underwhelming message to a large one. This has a lot to do with the underlying fundamentals of the wine business. For all but the largest brands, I’d advocate messaging that a small audience may be passionate about over less-inspired messaging broadcast to millions. Don’t try to satisfy everyone, but try to excite enough people to reward your most loyal tribe members for their attention.
Check out the full agenda for the PR News Measurement Conference
Follow Ian on Twitter: @ianwright0101