James Devon, planning director, MBA
James Devon, planning director, MBA
A view from James Devon

IPA ADAPT: The 'five point plan' for effective social media measurement

If it isn't already abundantly obvious, measuring the business impact of social media is far from straightforward, writes James Devon, planning director at MBA.

#IPASocialWorks is a cross-industry collaboration involving The IPA, The Marketing Society and the Market Research Society, supported by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Our aim is to provide guidance as to the roles social can play and how to measure its effectiveness and ROI. So far, we’ve studied over 130 case studies where there’s definitely something interesting happening, but only in around eight of those have we unearthed robust evidence as to the causal and attributable effect of the social activity.

The recent case studies include "It’s more fun in the Philippines", which grew tourist numbers by 9% and, combined with an increased average spend per tourist, led to a substantial return. Cadbury's Creme Egg demonstrated how they had used Facebook in combination with TV effectively.

And the ASB Bank's "Like Loan" showed how a simple ‘social mechanic’ (where the more Facebook likes for the bank lowered the interest rate on a mortgage for a lucky winner) led to incremental business.

Robust measuring of social requires many of the methods that we know already from other disciplines. It also requires substantial pre-planning.

Many of the cases we’ve seen are falling down because they lack some effectiveness basics such as defined KPIs and the thinking ahead about the data required, to prove or disprove a hypothesis.

At the IPA’s Agility Adaptathon recently, we presented some data from Fournaise Marketing Group that indicated "58% (of marketers) place "Likes", "Tweets", "Clicks" and "CTR" in their Top 5 Marketing ROI KPIs.

This hints at underlying issues – that sometimes those responsible for social marketing are not as well trained in marketing effectiveness as they could be.

ROI (or ROMI) is an abused term. It is a very specific financial calculation involving incremental margin and the cost of the campaign. Anyone in any doubt should visit the IPA’s new ROMI calculator.

To help clients and agencies put more rigour into social measurement, we’ve come up with a five-point plan to act as a guide. We discovered during the workshops in the Agility Adaptathon that this isn’t necessarily a linear process (arguably number five is the point to start with), but it certainly helps people to ask the right questions.

1. Objectives / KPI

What are the brand’s overall marketing and business goals and how is this activity designed to contribute towards those?

2. Why social

Think about channelling Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park; make sure you’re including social because you should, rather than because you could. It’s not just about whether it works, it’s also about whether it works better than other options open to you.

3. Management and collection of data

This is where you need to bring in some classic direct marketing techniques. In order to test something how do you separate messages and audiences? How do you ensure you’re separating correlations from causation?

4. Channel choice

What is the role of each channel or platform and how will you compare performance across channels?

5. Evaluation design

What have you sent out, what has been seen, and by whom? How does it link with other activities? Think about soft metrics such as likes and engagement. Then consider hard metrics such as customer satisfaction, cost avoidance, sales, and new customers.

We’d like to hear how you get on using this five-point plan so that we can continue to refine it and make it even more useful.

We’d also like to hear from you, if you have a case study where you feel the business effects of social can be proven. Don’t worry, if you don’t have conclusive proof yet, our team can help you ask the right questions to unearth the data.

#IPASocialWorks is creating a "how to" guide with Ray Poynter, which you can get involved in.

James Devon is Planning Director at MBA

James Devon spoke at the hugely productive #IPASocialWorks session at the recent Agility Adaptathon held at Altitude, London, as part of IPA President Ian Priest's ADAPT agenda.

Get involved

Join us for the Performance Adaptathon on 8th July 2014, where the IPA will be joining forces with ISBA to ‘hack’ how clients and agencies can move from less time-based to more value-based remuneration and business models, to achieve a win-win in client and agency relationships.