Measuring the Role of Social Media in the Customer Journey

by Jon Bush

posted on 11-22-2016

Understanding your customers’ journeys is critically important to improving their experiences, increasing their satisfaction rates, and decreasing attrition. Social-media channels play increasingly important roles in customer journeys, providing new ways to connect and engage with customers on their own levels. However, measuring social media’s role in the customer journey comes with some inherent challenges.

Social Media and the Customer Journey
Every day, customers engage with social media. However, how they do this is different for each person. With a variety of social-media channels to choose from — as well as a variety of ways to interact with each of them — understanding your customers’ exposures to and engagements with your brand via social media can be tricky. It’s important to be able to understand where your customers enter into the sales funnel — and social media is a key part of that process.

Social-Media Measurement Pitfalls
Social-media measurement can be tough for a number of reasons. One hurdle you’ll face is privacy policies. While certain platforms — for example, Twitter — tend to be very open and allow robust pictures of each customer’s experiences and preferences, others are more closed — Facebook or LinkedIn, for instance. On those platforms, you’re typically only able to see how customers react to your posts and not what they might be posting on their own personal pages. This type of privacy is intentional on the part of the platform. However, it limits the information that you can use to fully understand the customer journey and make strategic decisions.

Three Social-Media Metrics That Enable You to Better Understand the Customer Journey
This can make it difficult to understand how to properly measure success on social media. While success tends to vary according to your goals, a few key metrics can help you understand whether your brand is on the right track. At a high level, three of the social-media metrics you should be most concerned with include impressions, engagement, and brand perception.

1. Impressions
Depending on who you talk with, impressions may also be referred to as reach. Impressions give you an idea of how many people are actually seeing your content. Remember, just because you have one-million followers does not mean one-million people are seeing every update. For some updates, the impressions will be far, far less than one million; while for other updates, they could actually be much higher than one million. Impressions are influenced by things like how many people engage with your post, whether you paid to advertise the update, and more. Knowing whether your message is really getting out there is key to understanding whether social media is right for you. Much as you wouldn’t continue to invest in a billboard on a road no one ever drives on, it doesn’t make sense to invest time and money in updates that no one ever sees. Understanding your impressions can help you determine what is working and what you might need to retool.

2. Engagement
Even if your posts receive one million impressions each, you obviously won’t receive one million likes on each of them. Social media just doesn’t work like that. For your followers to take action — to “like” or “share” your posts, for instance — they need to feel compelled to do so. Engagement is really the measure of how compelling your content is to the audience that is seeing your posts. If you are posting update after update and hearing crickets chirp in return, there’s likely a problem. That issue could be your targeting, your timing, the content you’re linking to, or your updates themselves. If you have a low engagement rate, it’s time to start testing possibilities for optimizing your social-media success.

3. Brand Perception
It can be difficult to decipher what someone really thinks of you. You’ve long had methods — such as surveys and focus groups — to help you better understand how customers perceive your brand. Now, social media allows you to gain a level of insight you’ve never before had. The only trouble with tracking this metric is that the data is voluminous; people may be talking about your brand on an assortment of platforms, each expressing diverse emotions and various nuances. It’s tough to keep up. Many brands purchase social-media listening software to help them understand the perceptions customers have of their brands on social media. However, this is not a foolproof system. Remember, computers cannot understand sarcasm. So, what’s a brand to do? A national airline company actually employs individuals — their social-media support team — who simultaneously respond to tweets and tag those tweets with sentiments and topics to track brand perception in real time. By making this part of their everyday workflow, they save time while allowing humans to interpret the nuance of brand perception.

In Closing
Social-media metrics don’t have to be a mystery. Incorporating the right social-media metrics in your marketing-attribution model can help you better understand whether customers are seeing your updates and engaging with your brand as well as how they are, ultimately, feeling about your brand.

Jay Baer says, “the end goal is action not eyeballs” — and he’s right. However, to get action, you must understand whether customers are seeing your content, how they are interacting with it, and how they are feeling about their overall journeys with your brand. Your goal is to ensure their customer journeys are happy ones. Make sure you understand whether your metrics indicate that they are.

Topics: Social