Brands can’t succeed in social media if they don't measure it properly. But today we measure social marketing in exactly the wrong way. To succeed we must move beyond engagement.
It's no secret social teams are terrible at measurement. Surveys from Gartner, Simply Measured, and Social Media Examiner all report more than 60% of social marketers can't measure ROI. Their bosses are even less likely to believe in social.
Engagement data is the problem.
I know: We're surrounded by engagement data. Facebook and Twitter list engagement front and center in their dashboards. Social vendors and agencies send brands reports full of engagement data. That's why most brands say engagement is their primary social success metric.
But I’ve never once seen data proving that engagement correlates to success. In fact, all evidence says the opposite. Cox Communications reports the social posts that generate the greatest engagement drive the fewest sales. Even Facebook admits that 90% of people who buy products after seeing Facebook ads don’t engage.
To succeed in social media -- to both prove and improve the value of social -- we have to move beyond engagement.
I've yet to meet any CMOs desperately seeking engagement data. They want to know if marketing drives business outcomes like awareness, leads, and sales. But their social teams only deliver engagement reports. No wonder CMOs are spending one-third less budget on social media in 2016 than they said they would. We have to use outcomes, not engagement, to prove the value of social media.
We don't only have to prove that social works; we also need to make it work better. Right now traffic from social networks to ecommerce sites bounces much more frequently and converts half as often as traffic from search engines and email campaigns. And as Facebook says, engagement data won’t help us do better. We have to use outcomes, not engagement, to improve the value of social media as well.
This week I published new research on how to go beyond engagement. Simply Measured is offering that report to you free; you can download a copy on their site.