August 15, 2013: One of the key reasons B2B marketers remain skeptical with social media as a primary tactic in digital marketing is the inability to determine ROI. It’s not that B2B marketers fail to understand the adoption rates of social media platforms and their influence in online behavior, it’s the lack of clarity between time and investment in social media activity for business purposes, with measurable marketing gains, that leads to B2B marketing unease.
The ROI conversation continues to have legs because historically, B2B marketers have not had access to clear social media metrics, which are necessary to begin the framework for marketing program evaluation. While we have access to web reporting tools, metrics specifically within social media platforms have been poor at best.
But that is starting to change.
I wanted to use this post to address some of the reporting applications made recently available in popular social media platforms, for activity measurement and benchmarking performance. Most importantly, all of these tools are free.
What’s In It For B2B Marketers
As social media platforms begin to provide more direct insight into activity metrics related to business activity, B2B marketers have a greater opportunity to connect the dots within business analytics tools to establish true marketing performance measurement.
More importantly, as data points become more readily accessible via API and other connectivity points, you can be certain third party reporting tools will get much more advanced in the ability to connect traffic and activity data to goals, conversions, and sales transactions.
Arguably the most comprehensive of social media reporting dashboards, Facebook insights have come a long way in a short period of time, offering actionable metrics to page managers and business owners.
In addition to demographic data associated with page following, B2B marketers have access to:
1.) Page and individual post level metrics on engagement and network visibility.
2.) Social network sources where page and post “Likes” came from (IE, advertising, organic growth, post activity, etc).
3.) Analysis of when the best times to post content might be and the most relevant / popular post types.
4.) Comprehensive data exports at the page and post level, breaking out specific engagement details of social media activity.
While Facebook might not be the right place for B2B marketers to drive sales ready leads, the world’s largest social network provides a good destination for maintaining brand awareness and providing support and visibility for lead nurturing initiatives.
While website reporting tools and social media applications like HootSuite provide data on referral traffic and click thru’s, Twitter also offers a free set of traffic metrics via Twitter Analytics.
From the Twitter reporting dashboard, users can get information on two important components of their Twitter profile:
1.) Activity (favorites, replies, retweets) associated with Twitter updates created for up to the last 90 days or 500 updates.
2.) Demographic data on your following, including interests, location, and popular profiles your following also follows (which you may not yet).
Not to be left out, LinkedIn has begun incorporating a much more comprehensive set of metrics in the company insights section of LinkedIn Pages. Page administrators can get a better understanding of visitor types (in terms of professional level of experience), and impressions and engagement percentages of company updates.
More details on how LinkedIn Company Analytics works can be found through this link in the LinkedIn Help Center but above you can see some activity from our company profile.
We’ve been talking about the importance of Google Authorship as an SEO-related initiative for quite some time. The recommendation for implementing authorship has industry wide support and almost all SEO practitioners would agree that Google Authorship will play an important role in Google SEO moving forward.
Well a while back, Google announced support of Google Authorship statistics via Webmaster Tools. As more marketers become accepted into the authorship program, the information provided offers greater insight into the impact authorship has on brand visibility and at a high level, the performance of third party articles in search, where authorship has been enabled.
While I have been advocating for B2B search engine marketing professionals to establish clear metrics in their social media programs for quite some time, data collection had always been excruciatingly manual. For example, we actively use Twitter to connect with publishers and site owners to develop interaction designed to improve our success rates when we inquire on link opportunities. But we use a combination of social media monitoring reports, link management tools, and spreadsheets to connect the dots in performance.
While B2B marketers still need to cross-reference metrics found in these reporting tools with visitor data found in web reporting applications, at the least we have a much more comprehensive dataset to start with.
Additional Articles & Resources
- Five Reports For Measuring B2B Marketing Effectiveness
- 5 Action Items from #SMX Advanced 2013
- Top Takeaways for B2B Marketers from The Complete Social Media Community Manager’s Guide
Author Note: A variation of this article originally appeared in our company newsletter, which we publish quarterly. Subscribe to our newsletter to get access to more specific information like this, as well as company updates, announcements, etc.