Measuring social: Is it all just a folly?

Posted by Jodi Harris on November 4th, 2010 at 9:46 pm

In any campaign, marketers look to encourage influencers, spread messages, and build brand loyalty and equity. But though these are valuable branding goals that are highly achievable -- and trackable -- in digital media, they don't necessarily translate in the social realm.

Because of our ability to track and maintain data, digital marketers are better able than ever before to know what's happening in their campaigns. And social media is no longer an exception -- we have tons of metrics in this space, including measurement of activity, interaction, ROI, and outcome metrics.

But in her session on social media measurement at ad:tech this afternoon, Tracy Tuten, associate professor of marketing at East Carolina University - College of Business, raised an interesting dilemma: What we hope for and what we reward are not necessarily the same things when it comes to social media marketing. In her estimation, we’re measuring what's measurable, instead of measuring what we want to see happen.

But this is changing. Stefan Heeke, director of interactive marketing, global campaign measurement & insights at Siemens Corporation, one of the presenters in the session, discussed a recent campaign where the company leveraged the power of social networks to accomplish their goal of water conservation.

According to Heeke, they started by addressing a center point of their target social network (Facebook) and tapping into people who share their environmental passion. "Passionate people are influencers. If we can find people who are passionate about water conservation, they will share this with like-minded people," says Heeke.

Through an application developed with their partner, friend2friend, they created an actionable recipe for social media success, which included the following steps:

1.    Establish the brand's purpose.

2.    Identify users vested in this purpose. Go after users whose interests are aligned with our goal.

3.    Design a social experience. Users don't pass along an ad; they pass along experiences that they find valuable for their purposes.

4.    Facilitate sharing.

5.    Build a community around that common purpose

The friend2friend application they created was a personal water footprint calculator, which queried users on their personal water usage -- including how much they use for drinking, household chores, their personal habits, and their diet choices -- and gave them a snapshot of how much water they use in a year. The app then let them compare this amount to the average use around the world, and then made it more impactful by letting them share their totals with friends. From there, Siemens was able to provide personalized tips for reducing water consumption, and offered a chance for users to publish their commitment to making these changes on the Siemens Facebook page because, as Heeke reminded us, if we make a commitment publicly, we're more likely to follow through on it.

Ah. Peer pressure for the greater good!

The campaign certainly had a positive impact on Siemens' goal: Heeke reported that almost 20,000 users took quiz. They spent three minutes of time learning about conservation and consumption of water. In addition, 75 percent of users made conservation commitments, which would save more than 80 million gallons of water.

But in addition to furthering the company's overall campaign objectives, the campaign also garnered some significant branding impact.

  • 65 percent of app users published their results out to friends
  • 1-2 million social impressions were created
  • More than 6000 visits per month were tallied, and 2,500 people joined their community

This brought Siemens' social branding initiative onto Facebook and helped the company enter into the conversation.

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