Measuring the Impact of Social Media Marketing !

Most companies these days are taking the social media marketing route. They invest a lot of time, money and efforts in it and yet feel lost. This mostly happens because they fail to quantify the effectiveness of their campaign. This article proposes a Four-Point model to measure the impact of social media marketing by capturing various elements like exposure, engagement, influence and action. Social media marketing is rendered futile if there is no way of knowing how it improved business. Our model helps companies to bell the social media cat.
Social Media Marketing and measuring its impact
The internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. Everyone is on the internet. Especially in emerging markets like India, there has been a spurt of growth in internet usage. Till December 2012, total internet users in India were around 150 million and there were about 87.1 million mobile internet users. The CAGR of internet users in India has been a healthy 26% since last 4 years. With improved technology and falling prices of devices the ease of accessing the internet has greatly increased.
Lately, there has been a popular trend of various firms indulging in social media marketing. Most of us were alien to this kind of marketing until the day we grooved to the ‘Kolaveri Di’ track. Within hours of being uploaded on YouTube it went viral, garnering record breaking views. Thanks to social media and its large exposure. Social media user base in India is expected to touch 66 million by the end of 2013. And thus it’s a huge potential resource which can be harnessed for marketing. More and more firms are now taking the ‘Social Media’ (SM) route to reach their target audience. In hindsight different firms cite different objectives for their social media marketing. Some fail and some succeed – it all depends on the relevance.
Setting the right goal
A properly set goal is already half-conquered. A firm should set a clear outcome and the goal it expects to achieve through social media marketing. One should be realistic and shouldn’t expect traffic to increase overnight. As Prof. Philip Kotler says, “Social media marketing strategies are generally long term and they are different from other marketing strategies since it is more about connecting to people rather than achieving transactions.” Implementing marketing strategies through social media takes time. It is a full time effort. It requires to be steered in a particular direction and hence a lot depends on the content a firm shares on it. Most of the firms get confused about their identity in social media marketing. Prof. Kotler further adds that a firm shouldn’t jump blindly into social media marketing. It should test the waters by allocating a small fraction of its marketing budget for social media.
But whenever time and money are involved one is bound to think about the ROI. And this is particularly important for making future decisions in social media marketing strategies. So can the impact of social media marketing be measured in some way? There’s no particular method devised for the same. But the Four-point model given below explains how we can get closest to measuring the impact.
Measuring the Impact: The Four-point Model
When a firm decides to use social media marketing, firstly the goal should be fixed. Then it should go as per the stages of Four-point model that includes measuring exposure, engagement, influence and action. A measure of all these 4 stages will eventually give a quantification of a firm’s social media marketing performance.


This is the first stage for tapping in the social media marketing effect. The sole objective at this stage is to create brand awareness. To begin with, firms usually set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Other option is to advertise through Google, Facebook, YouTube ads. The questions to be asked are – How many Facebook users or Twitter followers are actually getting your message? Is your brand reaching to your customers? Are you adding new users or followers? A firm can create awareness about its products/services through some strong promotions online as well as offline. And finally it can measure the number of people who joined its Facebook page or started following it on Twitter.


Once sufficient awareness has been created then comes the stage to test how many people actually connected to that awareness. At this instance it will be important to see how many people read and responded to your messages/content online. It is generally a to and fro activity and can also involve conversations and discussions about the brand/product/service. A properly designed engagement stage may help in providing various consumer insights. Measurement can be in the form of number of times your brand’s message got re-tweeted or in case of Facebook the number of times your link was clicked, liked and commented.


Your exposure and engagement eventually creates an effect on the consumers and potential consumers you reach. This effect can be good, bad or neutral. It simply tells whether your brand created a positive euphoria or a bad feeling amongst the people it connected to. This stage thus measures the positive influence or the “Brand Love” amongst the people. One can use parsing techniques to account for total reactions and further filter them to calculate how many of the reactions were positive using certain keywords.


This is the stage for which every firm goes for social media marketing. This final stage of Action brings in some leads/business. This is a result of your brand exposure, engagement and influence.


** Considering sales which resulted out of social media interaction (Calculated by comparing database of customers who liked our page/commented/tweeted about us and sales database)
The scores calculated at each stage are added to give a Social Media Impact Score (SMIS) (out of 4) of a brand. With the help of this score a firm can quantify its position in social media marketing. Based on historical data about usual levels of activity, conversion into sales etc. a firm can establish Industry Benchmarks i.e. an ideal/good SMIS for a sector/industry.
The SMIS will help firms to pinpoint where they went wrong or where they did a good job, since it gives a break-up of score at every stage. For example, a firm may have a high score in the exposure and engagement stage but a poor score in the influence stage. This indicates that there is something wrong with the positioning of the firm; there is a mismatch between what the customer expects and what the firm offers. This will help the firm re-align its social media marketing strategy and create a positive influence amongst its customers.
Conventionally, short sighted firms start measuring their returns of social media marketing only at the Action stage i.e. the last stage whereas returns start coming right from the second stage when a firm engages with a customer. Such firms use social media marketing for the sole purpose of sales and transactions. Therefore there are high chances that they may fail and end up finding social media marketing irrelevant.
[The article has been written by Sneha Nirgudhkar and Siddhesh Godse. They have completed their Post Graduation Diploma in Management at Welingkar Institute of Management, Mumbai. ]

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