Social Media Attribution

When I first started consulting on social media back in 2005, I was introducing blogs, wikis, podcasts and the newly -emerging social networks such as Facebook.

Both with my academic colleagues and with clients, one of the persistent questions was “How do I know I’m getting any benefit from these social tools?”

Seeing the impact of your social marketing relies on attribution, which is similar to the older metric of ROI (return on investment). Both are sometimes difficult to quantify.

ROI is a very dollars-and-cents measurement. You invested $1000 for an ad buy and it produced $5000 in sales. (Some might call that ROAS – Return on Ad Spend – but I’m being simpler here.) .

In a more detailed article on Buffer, attribution is said to assign value to the channels that drove an outcome. That might mean dollars but it might not. Attribution could measure a purchase or a web visit or a download.

It is a bit of reverse engineering or backward design because you re looking at something like someone signing up for your service or just a newsletter and tracing back to determine what channel or channels can be attributed to that event.

A simple example that doesn’t concern ROI is my own tracking of the referring sites for posts on this site. I can see if traffic to a post came from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, one of my blogs or just a search engine. When someone finds me via Google, I can see what search terms they used. Those results can be surprising. I might get a surge of traffic from a search or link on a site to “Erik Satie” or from “flat web design.”

touchpoints

Attribution is generally broken down as being in three modes: Last-touch, First-touch and Multi-touch attribution. (Take a look at this diagram from digitalthought.me about more on multi-touch models called Even, Time Decay, Weighted, Algorithmic, etc.

The first-touch attribution credits the first marketing touchpoint. For example, you run an ad and monitor how many contacts you came from that ad.

Last-touch attribution credits the channel that a lead went through just before converting. Maybe you ran an ad on Facebook which someone later tweeted and the lead came from the Tweet that linked to your site for a purchase, so Twitter gets the attribution.

Last-touch is easier to measure, but both single-touch models fail to show the complete and sometimes circuitous customer journey. That’s why multi-touch attribution is used. This gets much more complicated and more difficult to track. More complicated than the scope of this post. But as an example, the time decay attribution gives more weight to touchpoints closer to the final conversion event. If your original ad is the starting point but the final purchase came after a tweet that was retweeted and then posted as a link in someone’s blog a week later, the blog gets more credit (as a personal endorsement) than the ad although obviously none of this would have happened without the ad.

Back to that question I started getting in 2005 – it is important to remind clients that social media used for marketing and as engagement and brand-building may not always generate leads or sales directly but rather indirectly.

Attribution is more complicated than this primer, so you might want to check out these sources:

Impressions and Reach

How do “impressions” differ from “reach”?

Impressions measure the number of times your post or ad appears to users. It makes an “impression” on a viewer but this metric doesn’t take into account unique users. That means that if the same person views it 20 times it counts as 20 impressions.

The metric of “reach” measures the number of unique users who view your post or ad. In that same situation the 20 views by one person would count as a reach of only one.

Here’s a post on blog.hubspot.com that focuses on how both metrics work on Instagram.

 

Even a Personal Site Can Sell

I feel bad for Tim Berners Lee (best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web) who has said that one thing he did not anticipate was how quickly the World Wide Web would become a marketplace.

Tim (who is currently a professor of computer science at the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) reminds us that in those early days personal websites dominated.

But not everything on the web is commercial. Most blogs are personal, or at least not commercial. But some personal websites have become “commercial.”

I’m not thinking of ones that may have some Google or Amazon ads. I’m thinking of ones that contain personal thoughts and images but are also “selling” the owner as a brand.

This website is my personal website, but it does work to sell me. I have another sample blog that is really part of my web design business because it acts as an example of using a free site like Blogger to build an inexpensive website.

Blogs work well as websites because when you are consistently publishing on a blog you are likely to attract attention on social media and search engines and gain followers.

How often is consistent? I have read that commercial blogs that publish more than 16 posts per month get more than three times the traffic of blogs that published less than 4 posts per month. So, that’s a recommendation of about every other day or 4 times per week.

This is Melanie Daveid‘s portfolio features a selection of imagery from her best campaigns and apps. Is it personal? Yes. But it’s also commercial as it sells her, though not any actual product.

blog.hubspot.com has some best personal website samples and some best practices for personal, as in portfolio, websites. For example, using lots of visuals (even if your brand includes written work) including logos and other branding.

A personal site should be personal – i.e. it should show viewers your personality, style, maybe even your sense of humor, if that is part of what you are selling.

Simplicity should reign when it comes to organization. A main menu with just a few categories that perhaps subdivide into more granular pages after visitors land on the main page is a good navigation plan.

Brand Ambassadors

I received an offer recently to become a “brand ambassador” for a product line. The company is owned by someone who is an acquaintance and knew I had a background in social media marketing. Boosting brand awareness by using celebrities, customers and employees is becoming more and more common.

Though customers and employees may not have the audience and followers of a celebrity, they may have more believability as a spokesperson, especially if they are not being paid to endorse (which is what celebrities have been doing for a lot longer than there has been social media).

When you officially make some a brand ambassador, you should not just let them go on their own.

Most brands will create clear guidelines as to what they can post. A bad post can do a lot of damage.

You would need to create and curate relevant content for them. Images, logos, and text can be provided with guidelines how how much personalization and variation can be done.

I did this kind of campaign with a large national professional organization. The official but “unpaid” ambassadors who completed a series of campaign tasks around a national conference could get all or a portion of their conference stay covered. It was a good motivator.

Employers will often use a platform like Hootsuite or Smarp to facilitate employee engagement and advocacy by providing an internal content management system. Employees can access shareable content and schedule posts.

Customers – who are generally unpaid and unofficial ambassadors – can also be effective. As in my own experiences, when someone retweets or shares your official post they are endorsing (unless they make a negative comment along with that share!). That kind of 1:1 or 1:many word of mouth promotion is very powerful.

You’ll see offers made in this vein. For example, retweet this to your followers with a special hashtag and the company will select 10 retweets to win a product package.

So, You Want to Be a Social Media Manager

two people in a discussion with mobile phones

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

You see ads for the position of Social Media Manager. You use social media every day.  Maybe you’re no designer or marketing expert, but could you be an SM Manager?

What are the job responsibilities? Of course, that varies based on the employer, but here’s a quick list of some common parts of the job.

  • Work with content creators, possibly a content manager, public relations and marketing teams. If this is a small organization, you might be a one or two-person “department” and some knowledge of photography, videography, image editing skills is a real plus.
  • Develop a social media strategy
  • Manage all social media tactics to leverage content, drive community engagement and ultimately increase key KPIs.
  • Probably you will manage the social media budget
  • You will capture quantitative metrics and provide analysis and insights using SM management and analytical tools (Salesforce, Hootsuite etc.) for listening, scheduling, engaging, and reporting.
  • Manage the social media content calendar
  • For that job interview and when in the position you will need to stay up to date
    on your industry, especially the social media trends of competitors.

Do you need a college degree? Depends on the employer. Some may accept previous SM experience in a company – not personal social media experiences, though that certainly will help you. There are very few people in social media with degrees in social media because there are very few social media degrees though there are related fields such as marketing.

You certainly need experience managing social media or relevant, digital marketing experience across social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Is Social Media Hurting My Web Design Business?

That headline caught my attention (which is the purpose of a headline) because my business is both web design and social media.

“Social media is an interesting thing. As web design professionals, it can be a great opportunity to share your work and get in front of prospects who might otherwise never find you online. But for as much good as social media can do to propel your marketing efforts, it has the potential to be just as harmful to your business.”

But it turns out that the author is referring to how my social media presence could hurt my chances of getting a new job or client.

70% of hiring organizations research candidates using social media, and 57% of hiring managers have chosen not to pursue a candidate because of what they found on social media. So, I guess I need to watch what I say on social media. maybe I should avoid social media altogether. No[e, that’s not a good idea because 47% of organizations won’t contact a candidate if they have no online presence.

So, it’s a mixed message. Use social media the wrong way, and prospective clients will rule you out, but don’t use social media at all and they will also rule you out.