Not everyone is a fan of data-driven marketing. Some seasoned marketers make case against data-driven social media marketing on the grounds that it takes away from the art of crafting effective marketing messages — that, by paying too much attention to the numbers and not enough to your gut, you foreclose opportunities to make truly memorable connections.
They might be swimming against the stream though. Most marketing experts, including the always-sharp staff at Forbes, argue in favor of data-driven marketing, especially in environments where engagement and sentiment are easy to measure.
“Social media is a data-rich environment,” says digital media specialist Matei Gavril of PR Media Online. “The tools that allow us to collect information about how our fans and followers engage with us are constantly improving, and it’s easier than ever for brands and even image-conscious individuals to harness them to their benefit.”
1. Use High-Value Social Media Suites
You’re probably already using a social media scheduling suite, such as Hootsuite, to stay on top of your social media marketing campaigns. Though important, that might not be enough.
Before you launch your data-driven social media marketing drive, familiarize yourself with the high-value digital solutions that go beyond mere scheduling and tracking. You need tools that give you deep, granular insight. In some cases, these tools are built right into your social media platforms — for instance, Facebook for Business and LinkedIn Pro both offer detailed, effective insights. In other cases, you’ll need to look for third-party solutions.
Just don’t settle for imitators. This is your marketing we’re talking about here.
2. Conduct a Baseline Evaluation
As the old saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Before you jump wholeheartedly into your social media marketing effort, you need to conduct a baseline evaluation that collects as much quantitative and qualitative data as possible about your “as is” social media profile. Keith A. Quesenberry of Harvard Business Review has a great primer on this — if you’re not sure where to start, check out his chart and apply it to your situation.
3. Set Realistic, Measurable Goals With Clear Time Horizons
Once you have a sense of where you stand, figure out where you want to be. Set realistic, measurable goals with clear time horizons — given the dynamism of social marketing, likely short- to medium-term horizons. Are you looking to double your follower count in three months? Boost click-throughs on promotional posts by 30%? Whatever your goals, set them, and build your social strategy around them.
4. Track Everything
It goes without saying that you need to track as much as you can. More to the point, you need to track day-to-day (and minute-to-minute, if necessary) fluctuations in your followers’ engagement behaviors. This is where high-value analytics solutions really come in handy. If you’re not yet sure how analytics works, this handy primer from Marketing Profs will set you straight.
5. Learn from Your Mistakes
Mistakes are inevitable. It’s what happens after them that matters.
For instance, let’s say you drop a Facebook post at 8 p.m. in your target audience’s time zone. It flops — a handful of likes, no click-throughs — until the next day at 9 a.m., when engagement suddenly goes through the roof. Are you going to drop your next post at 8 p.m., or wait until the following morning? Listen to what the data tells you — and follow through.
6. Get Beyond the Metrics
Raw engagement figures only get you so far. Truly effective social media marketing relies on perceived (and actual) follower influence. If you can identify your most influential and visible followers, and then convert them to your cause, you’ll reach far more prospects at far less cost and effort. One of the best ways, but by no means the only, ways to measure follower influence is Klout Score — which, incidentally, is also useful for measuring your own influence.