SM - 8 Advanced techniques to measure the success of social media's organic and paid efforts.

Some of the biggest mistakes small and big businesses make when it comes to social media marketing and measurement is that they think if everyone is doing social media then I should also do it or thinks that it doesn't cost anything if we are not doing social media paid ads or worse measure their success based on number of Likes and Followers. Even some Social media Gurus, who call themselves the Gods of social media doesn't get it very well and don't understand what social media is all about? and how to measure its impact on the businesses?

If you are interested to learn how to get most out of your social media efforts and understand it's true value for your business and make strategic decisions, not based on gut feeling but with real supporting data, then this post is for you.

Things we are going to cover in this post -

A. What social media is all about?

B. Measurement strategies for organic efforts -

       1. Four standard metrics to measure Social Network performance and effectiveness.

       2. Brand Exposure.

       3. Likelihood to recommend/Brand Lift

       4. Customer Lifetime Value(CLV)

C. Measurement strategies for paid efforts -

       5. Visitors Loyalty and Recency.

       6. Task Completion Rate.

       7. Assisted Conversions.

       8. Economic Value.

D. Final Thoughts and Credit.

A. What Social media is all about?

To understand the problem with Social media marketing, First, we need to understand what progress customers are trying to make in their lives and in what particular circumstances?

and the second thing we have to admit that, masses and masses of data we all try to capture about our customers are not going to tell us why customers do things that they do? It only tells you What happened and How much? Like what happened when you tweet or post an article, image or video etc. on twitter or facebook? How many retweets you get, how many likes and shares you get? How many people clicked on the link and visited your website? Which pages or products they look at and whether they purchased or not or did something valuable on your website like signup for a newsletter or not?

But all these data, won't tell you why a person or your customers retweeted, like or share your post or why they purchased something from you?

It's the job that customers are trying to get done or the progress that a customer is trying to make in his/her life and in which circumstances is the answer to the "why".

Some of the main jobs of you, me and others on social media is obviously to socialize with our friends and family, entertain ourselves, learn something new or get information about something we are really passionate about or have a discussion about any political, social issues etc with other people. That's the Progress customers are trying to make in their life or trying to solve via social media.

And the circumstances could be like I am getting bored with continuous working, reading or making presentations and I want to kill some time or do something else to renew my energy to focus on my work again.

But most businesses didn't get this simple fact. Nobody wakes up in the morning and say " Lord, today I am going to see lots and lots of ads on social media". But this is the exact strategy, most of the companies apply to social media. Keep promoting their agenda to as many people as they could. Keep Shouting as much as they could. These companies didn't understand how to talk about anything else other than itself. They don't try to add value to the customers who are following and liking them on social media.

And with the smart algorithm like Edgerank and other by social media companies, the more these companies keep pimping, the less and fewer people start to see their contents organically, making it more worse.

Here is a nice visualization to sum up what is wrong with Social media Marketing -

B. Measuring the organic social media efforts -

1. Four standard metrics to measure Social network engagement and effectiveness -

1. Conversation Rate -

Conversation Rate is the ratio of comments per post( or video or tweet or pin etc) to overall followers(or page likes).

It tells you whether or not you are having a meaningful conversation with your customers. And to achieve higher conversation rate, every business first need to figure out who are their targetted customers? what are they most interested in? or what is important for them? It forces companies to stop pushing their agenda and become more customer-centric.

2. Amplification Rate -

Amplification rate is the ratio of shares(or retweets or repins etc) per post to overall followers(or page likes).

It helps you to measure what pieces of content and types causing people to share it with their connection. Is what you are saying is so valuable that they care about sharing with others.

3. Applause Rate -

Applause Rate is the ratio of Likes( or favorites or +1 etc.) per post to overall followers(or page likes).

It tells you about the things you are saying is even little valuable and relevant to the customers that they bother to like it or favorite it.

4. Economic Value -

Economic value helps you to measure, as a result of all your social media efforts in understanding your customers, creating gorgeous pictures and videos, spending time with your customers to reply them back, How much value is added to your business? What is the outcome of all these efforts?

Economic Value = Sum of short and long-term revenue and cost savings.

Learn more about it in the Post below.

Use True Social metrics to measure all these automatically or use this template for calculating manually.

Important Note - 

 Always tag all your organic and paid tweets, posts etc. links with UTM campaign parameters that you want your visitors to click and come back to your website because most contents are now consumed on mobile and apps and they don't send the referral data to your web analytics tools( any tools you use). Tagging a link help you to measure your referral data correctly. 

Example of it -

The utm_ tracking parameter will make sure that all links are tracked properly. Use or any link shortener to make it short link Zara did here -  

Use Google Campaign URL builder (For Google Analytics) to create UTM tracking parameters or use this Google spreadsheet for Bulk tagging.

2. Brand Exposure (New customers introduced to the brand) -

Click on any picture on the blog to see at High Resolution.

The purpose of measuring it is to understand how many new customers visited your website because of your Branding Campaigns.

If you look at the above report, you can see that there is 10 % percent decrease in new visitors, Which means that the social media campaigns during oct are performing worse than the previous period.

To do the above analysis, you need to keep few things in mind -

1. First, You need to measure the number of new visitors before the campaign, in our case Sep 2017 and during the campaign in Oct 2017 to measure the Percentage change in new visitors to your website, Which you can easily do in Google Analytics by using the compare date range function at the top of the report, you don't have to do it manually.  you can find this report in Google Analytics under - Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning

2. Second, you have to remove the All user segments at the top of the report and apply the Campaign segment you wish to measure, in our case organic social media traffic.

Here is how the social media segment will look like.

Click this link to download this Social media segment in your Google Analytics.

After downloading it, change the source name based on your Google Analytics report.
You can find Which social media channels sending traffic to your website in GA under Acquisition > Channel > Social. Just include the high volume traffic channels, you don't have to include channels that are sending very few visitors.

3.  Likelihood to recommend/Brand Lift -

Courtesy of Avinash

As it is obvious, it helps you to measure what was the overall experience of the people once they landed on your website via any traffic sources and whether or not they are delighted by your business so much that they wish to recommend it to their friends and families. Did you able to make an impression on your customers that they would love to go on a second or third date with you?

You can measure the Likelihood to recommend by simply using any on-exit survey tools like Google website SurveyHotjar or Qualaroo.

4. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) -


Acquiring new customers isn't cheap. To attract more customers, You need to pay more money for impressions and clicks on Advertising networks. Even if you don't do any paid advertising, still you need to invest your employee's lots of time and efforts to create contents and share it with your customers, pay money to your social media team as well as various paid tools you use to create and manage your contents, all these require money. Which is in microeconomics call the opportunity cost or the alternative cost. There isn't any free lunch in life.
And even after going through all these troubles, if you are getting very low qualified traffic then you are creating more problems then solving it for your company.

Customer Lifetime value helps you to understand, which channels, campaigns etc. are adding more long-term value to your business and which are not. So that you can shift your marketing money and time towards the ones that are more profitable for your company.

By measuring Customers Lifetime value, you solve tomorrow's problems today.

Previously it was very hard to measure Customers Lifetime value but now you can do it very easily with Google Analytics.

Just Go to Audience > Lifetime Value.

The above data shows that Social media is one of the worst performing channels for Google merchandise store. If your data look like this, then you definitely need to make some tough choices. Use the above strategies to measure the Value of your organic social media efforts, if it isn't performing well then try to learn from others who are doing well, it doesn't have to be in your own industry, and make changes according to your needs and if you still didn't see any value, then kill your all social media activities. Don't waste your time and money on something that isn't delivering a significant amount of value to your business. Still not convinced why do you need to do this, then read this post by Avinash Kaushik, why do you need to stop you all organic social media marketing?

C. How to Measure Success of Paid Social media advertising -

1. Visitors Loyalty (Frequency) and Recency -

Visitors Loyalty(Frequency) -

Visitors Loyalty or Frequency tells you how often users visit your website during a given time period.

From the above data, we can see that that GMS's customers aren't too much loyal. During this time period, near about 80,000 customers visited the website only once and never again out of 85,000 visitors. Totally pathetic. What GMS or you want is the greater distribution at the bottom of this report. The more people will be at the bottom, more awesomeness and money will be for you.

At this moment, as we are most interested in measuring the Visitors loyalty for our social media traffic, all you need to do is just apply the Social media segment that we discussed before or click here to get it .

Again, it's totally useless! About 90% of the customers who came from Social media, never again returned to the website during this time period. With these insights you don't need to guess or believe in your gut feeling, you have real data with real insights, to make right decisions.

Few things you should also do with this report is comparing the visitor loyalty between two segments of users or compare visitors loyalty over two time period, a great way to dive deeper and understand customers behavior on your website. Also look at the Average session number per user(1.31) on the first picture denoted by an arrow, you can see how averages can screw your analysis? Always keep an eye on it.

Visitors recency -

Visitor Recency tells you how long it has been since a visitor last visited your website or what is the gap between two visits from the same person to your website.

From the above data, we can see that 70% of the Returning visitors, visited the website in less than 7 days, which is a great thing if you are selling anything or writing and publishing fresh contents every day or posting contents on social media regularly, then you want your customers to visit your website as often as possible.

Let's look at the Social media recency distribution -

 Here also the social media visitor recency is good. In the recency report, the more people will be at the upper part of the distribution, better it will be for you.

If you have noticed, you can see that I have made a slight change in the social media visitor segment at the top of the report, it containing returning and also in the first picture in the recency. By default, the recency report includes all visit, that means the new visits also( people who have never been to your site) added to the "0 Days ago" bucket. And to get the correct calculation, we need to remove the new visits in this report as we did in the first report by including only returning users.That's why we also made changes to our social media segment to reflect the same thing.

Click the link to download this Returning social media visitors segment. Use this segment in the recency report or where you need only returning social media visitors, otherwise, use the one you have downloaded above in the post or click this link to download it- Ak - All social media segment.

Conclusion - Though the gap between two visits(Recency) numbers is good for GMS, but there is a huge problem with visitors loyalty for all traffic sources as well as the social media channel. GMS need to fix it at any cost. You not only want the Gap between two visits to be shorter but you also want frequency ( number of times someone visited your website) to be higher. One measure the time(recency) and another measure the times(Loyalty or frequency).

2. Task Completion rate -

courtesy of Avinash

As you know that the average conversion rate on the web is only 2% for most of the industry. Customers come to your website for a various reason, not only to buy products and services from you. Some came to do a price comparison, some came to know more about you or to find a job opening in your companies or contact with you regarding their purchase etc. Every customer has different needs at different times, the task completion rate helps you to understand this primary purpose, Why someone visited your website and whether they are able to complete the task or not. And if not then why? It helps you to understand what really stinks on your website, whether customers are able to find the products or information they are looking for or if there are any navigational issues with your website, or certain tools or functions are working correctly as they expected etc. It helps you to understand what site design and services changes you need to make to give your customers a better experience on your website.

And the best part of it, you only need to ask only 3 questions to your customers to get the complete picture.

1. What is the purpose of your visit to our website today?

2. Were you able to complete your task today?

3. If you were not able to complete your task today, Why not?

That's it. Simple but very insightful information about your customers. One thing to keep in mind that you at least have enough survey data to make the right decision.

3. Assisted conversions -

Assisted conversion helps you to measure the real impact of a channel delivered to your business. By Default, Google analytics gives the credit for a sale or conversion to the channel who is involved in closing the sale. But in reality, this is not the case. Sometimes, mat be customers came to know about your business from an organic search result, then they may be later clicked on any of your retargeting display ads on any news website or blog to visit your website, then again later, maybe they clicked on one of your link on social media before making the final purchase. So we can't just give all the credit for the sale to only the social media or any other channel that involved in the last stage. We have to also consider, other channels that helped your customers to find you, did all the heavy lifting of convincing your customers that you are the right choice for them before the final purchase.

The assisted conversion helps you to understand this phenomenon and helps you to find out how much additional value every channel contributed to your business.

In the above report, you can see that social media not only helped GMS to generate $749 in revenue but it also assisted in generating additional $5431 in revenue to the GMS.

Also look at the last column of the report. The higher ratio value indicates that the channel helped more in assisting sales than closing the sale and lower value indicate that the channel is mostly helping in closing the sale in the last step and a value equal to 1 means the channel is helping in assisting and closing the sale equally. Look for the channels which have highest values in this column, those are the underdogs of your business and you should definitely shower them with Love and affection.

Click the link to learn, how to use the assisted conversion report in Google analytics in more detail.

4. Economic value -

One of the most important concepts you need to understand if you really want to win on the web is Economic Value.

Measuring Economic value not only helps you to focus on the Macro conversions( buying something from your website or signup for premium membership etc.) but also the Micro conversions( signup for an email newsletter, created a wish list or write reviews of the product on your website etc).

It forces you to not only focus on 2%( average conversion rate in the most industry) of your customers but also the remaining 98% of the customers. A true measure of success. Because not all of visitors to your website is going to buy from you on their first visit. So when you also measure the value of micro goals, you truly get the complete picture of overall value delivered to your business.

Economic Value = Macro + Micro

Courtesy of Avinash

This is how the custom report for social media channels will look like in your Google Analytics.

Click on the picture to see at high resolution.
The Per Session goal value gives you the Economic Value(Macro+Micro goals) delivered by all the users from social media for each source/medium. Here the per session Goal value is $0.00 for all the Source/medium. The reason for this is that Goal values are not added to the Goal setting in the Google Merchandise Google Analytics account. If you add it to your Google Analytics account, you can perfectly able to see the values.

Always measure the Economic value delivered to your website by all channels. Look at the below picture, to get a sense, why you should measure, love and adore Economic value it.

Courtesy Of Avinash
I hope this above visual helps you to realize why do you need Economic value. Most people only measure the first step or the second but not the third one. But this is exactly what you need to do to help your company become more successful.

 Read this article to learn how to identify and calculate the Economic value of your website.

 To Download this above custom report, click on this link - LWD - Social media Macro+Micro performance analysis.

D. Final thoughts and credit -

1. Use the strategies described above to measure the true impact of your social channels. Use both organic and paid social media strategies. If your organic efforts aren't delivering the desired result then kill you organic efforts( Why you should kill it?) and shift your focus to paid social media. Don't waste your companies limited resources on something that isn't working. There are lots of amazing ways on the web to get more value at a cheaper cost.

2. Don't put social media in one bucket and every other channel( Display, PPC, SEO etc.) in another bucket when measuring their value. Treat them equally( Don't be a Racist :) ) and compare them to each other. Do more what is working for you, not what other people say what you should be doing?

3. Always use UTM campaign parameters with all your organic and paid links as described above.

4. Most of the ideas and inspiration for this post and other posts on this Blog comes from Avinash Kaushik. If you are an analyst, marketer or business owner or anyone interested in marketing and analytics, you should definitely check out Avinash's Blog Occam's Razor. He is the Best in this field, Period. And If you are interested in Innovation, then definitely read anything by HBS prof. Clayton M. Christensen, or at least his latest book " Competing against Luck."  Follow these two people and you will be amazed how much you could learn from them.

5. And Don't forget to Subscribe to this blog, if you like this post. Shameless Promotions :) 

I hope you like this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment below with all of us. It helps us to write more relevant contents for you. And also share this post with others if you find value in it.

Which social media measurement strategies are you currently using to measure its performance? can you give an example of good social media marketing done by you or anyone else you know and what makes them unique? Which social media tools are you currently using to create and share your contents? Please share your insights with all of us.

P.S you may also like these posts -

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  1. Really Your blog is very interesting and y=useful information, I am also suggest to my friends to read your post. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading the article. I am really happy that you find it helpful and also want to recommend it to your friends. Thanks a lot, you are awesome. P.S. we just published a new post - . Hope you like it.


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