Chris Macleod, marketing director of Transport for London
Chris Macleod, marketing director of Transport for London
A view from Staff

IPA ADAPT: Ad industry calls for framework to measure social media, not count it

Ad industry calls for drive to improve measurement of social media, develop robust methodologies and demonstrate its value to businesses.

Clients are increasingly investing marketing budgets in social media, Chris Macleod, marketing director of Transport for London (TfL), told delegates to an IPA lab on agile measurement (held yesterday, 7th yet fully understood," he added. "We need a framework that allows us to make proper business decisions about social media investment."

Macleod was speaking to a group of agency and client executives at the Agility strand of the IPA’s ADAPT agenda. The session was part of a drive to increase the levels of rigour in measuring the effectiveness of social media. "At the moment, we are mostly counting it, not measuring it," he said.

The ADAPT agenda, led by IPA President Ian Priest, is designed to create a platform from which agencies can improve their commercial creativity. The Agility section looks at how agencies and clients can operate better in an always-on world, including social media.

Just counting followers, likes and re-tweets won’t help me move forward. You can’t just play with this.

A major problem, Macleod noted, was the failure to align the objectives of social media campaigns to business KPIs and to understand its value relative to other channels.

Jenny Burns, global head of social media at Royal Sun Alliance, told the session that better measurement of social media was crucial to her ability to increase the insurer’s investment in it.

"Just counting followers, likes and re-tweets won’t help me move forward. You can’t just play with this. Measurement that provides actionable insight and demonstrates that social media can be monetised is vital to a modern business," she said.

As part of a cross-industry strategy, the IPA is working with: the Marketing Society; the Market Research Society; Facebook; Twitter; LinkedIn; and the London Business School.

The #IPASocialWorks initiative, Macleod said, is designed to "provide definitive guidance to the roles social media can play and how to measure its effectiveness and ROI." It involves:

Creating a case study-based ‘treasure house of learning’

• Developing robust methodologies for using social media and measuring its impact

• Publishing a detailed how-to guide to research techniques

First case studies available

After rigorous peer review by effectiveness experts and 35 in-depth interviews, #IPASocialWorks chair Stephen Maher discussed how the first eight case studies had been identified which, Maher said, demonstrated "that there was a determination to bake in social media measurement from the beginning. This is what being agile is all about."

These case studies cover sectors including tourism promotion, snacks, customer services and banking. They are:

• Iceland tourism promotion, generating a ROMI of 61

• Mattesons Fridge Raiders, with an ROI of 2.44

• BT customer service, producing savings of £2m and increased retention

• O2 customer service, which demonstrated a link between Customer Satisfaction Index score and profit

• ASB bank from New Zealand, which generated 17,000 leads and led 200 additional loans being made

• Philippines tourism promotion, generating a 9pc increase in visitors and the highest-ever spend per tourist

• Cadbury Crème Eggs, which used Facebook and TV to produce a 66pc greater ROI than TV alone, and a sales increase of 9pc

• Cap Gemini, which used a LinkedIn campaign to help generate €170m of leads

How to think about social

There was a clear need for agencies and marketers to put in place a disciplined framework for thinking about social media, said James Devon, planning director of MBA. This involved five key points.

1. Set objectives/KPIs

According to a study of US CMOs by Fournaise Marketing Group, noted James Devon, planning director of MBA, 58pc placed ‘likes’, ‘tweets’, ‘clicks’ and ‘CTR’ in their top five marketing ROIs.

"This is insane," Devon said. Any campaign had to be aligned with the brand’s overall objectives; dissolve KPI silos where different departments measured different things; and, because most social media campaigns were ongoing, think about audiences and time periods – especially if measurement involved comparison with media channels that used shorter time periods.

2. Why use social media

Does it work? And does it work better than other media channels? "Just because you can use social media, it doesn’t mean you should," he said.

3. Management and collection of data

It is important to separate cause and correlation, Devon said. "Do people ‘like’ you because they already like the brand?" he asked. Think about what data you need to test your hypothesis and isolate it; think about where you will get that data from, remembering that platforms like Twitter and Facebook own much of the data; and plan well in advance.

4. Channel choice

Channel choice is a function of what audience the campaign is trying to reach. Planning a social media campaign requires thinking about the role of each platform or channel, how you need to change your measurement approach across each channel, and how to compare each channel.

5. Evaluation design

Designing an appropriate evaluation methodology, said Devon, involved a number of things: looking at how much material was sent out, to whom and how many saw it, and what happened as a result.

It should also combine soft metrics – likes, followers, shares and so on – with hard metrics like customer satisfaction, churn, leads, sales, search increase, new customers and so on.

In addition, evaluation should also include A-B testing, tagging and links to other activity. "We need to continue the conversation about measurement," said Maher, inviting the industry to contribute feedback and learnings to the IPA effectiveness hub. "We can only make the case for social media if we have great case studies."

To submit a case study as part of the #IPASocialWorks initiative contact Nigel Gwilliam

Read more about the project here

Learn more about IPA President Ian Priest's ADAPT agenda here