Which Social Media KPI’s Should Marketing Leaders Monitor?

Much like the rest of digital marketing, social media provides marketers with measurable results. Marketing automation platforms, web analytics programs and social analytics programs all offer the ability to paint a pretty clear picture of how your team is doing growing your company through social media. As a person in charge of a marketing team, you can’t possibly look at every last report and micromanage all scenarios. For a marketing leader that has an already mature process in place with his or her team, what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) define your social marketing success other than the obvious ROI? What should be measured about your team’s social media marketing strategy to determine whether or not profitable revenue from social media marketing will be growing next quarter?

One could make the argument for a variety of deeper factors, but to me, when considering the whole, big picture of modern marketing, these three KPI’s stand out the most, and contribute to successful revenue generation, ROI and critical growth factors for your other marketing and communication channels. Lead Generation, Increasing Following and Influencer Outreach are measurable, assignable KPI objectives that will ensure growth each and every quarter. Put them in place, guide the strategies and the positive reports will follow.

I have intentionally left social media advertising completely out of this equation. This is intended for organic social media marketing growth, to me, ad spend falls under its own channel.

Lead Generation
This is an obvious one. High visibility on social media can generate leads. As your team grows your social media following, outreach and activity, leads will increase. Typically, this consists of
1) Passers by who are curious about your company via a post or your profile description. The person then checks out your site, then converts.
2) Conversions generated by posts and messaging that includes direct or indirect company promotion.
3) Also, the obvious soft lead generation through content marketing is a primary way to move a social following into your funnel.

Increasing Your Following
Clearly the main goal of social media for business is to increase your following. Being comfortable with a smaller following than your competition or a stagnant following means that you aren’t moving the needle well enough. Improving your following, expanding your reach, growing your numbers are critical to generating revenue and improving ROI through social media marketing. There is almost no follower that is a bad follower. If you have 10 people within your industry that retweet a key message, thats great, hopefully their followers see the message, click through, retweet or take some form of action that then spurs another couple of layers of eyeballs on the message and additional action takers. If you have 100 followers who see your message, take action at a similar rate, obviously your reach is exponentially greater. This is key to your content marketing efforts and PR capabilities. Plus, as an added bonus, a large following lends greater credibility to your organization.

Influencer Outreach
How well is your team obtaining influencer relationships? How well is your team making friends with influential people? Influencer outreach is key to content marketing, PR, affiliate lead gen, SEO, branding, credibility and more. In order to take full advantage of these relationships, your marketing team must have certain channels built out and ready to deploy. However, when things are in place and your influencer outreach strategy is effective, the publicity, branding and lead generation power improves exponentially.

Going forward, measure your team’s social media marketing success with these three KPI’s. It will make the management process and reporting back to the CEO both easier.

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Why Big Brands don’t Focus on Content Marketing like Smaller Brands

I recently came across and then shared on Twitter a post about how smaller brands generally dominate content marketing. The point here was that smaller brands, who operate on typically much smaller marketing budgets, but greater effort into generating more quality content and in general, great content marketing campaigns from smaller brands are much easier to find than those from big brands. The post was written by Johan du Toit and can be found here.

I’d have to say that I agree with that theory in general, but I do not believe the reason is because smaller brands try harder to do so and are therefore winning a race to great content. In my opinion, big brands simply don’t need or benefit from the value received from content marketing in the way that smaller brands do.

Content marketing provides businesses with a dose of all of the above, brand recognition, credibility / thought leadership growth, leads, backlinks and social mentions for the most part. The power of a big brand alone takes care of the first few benefits in this list, the power of a big budget can typically handle the rest.

For example, take the total annual conference speaking engagements for the average mid-sized IT company. A company like Cisco will produce the same number of conference and event speakers in a day globally. Brand recognition, credibility, thought leadership and more, a fantastic content marketing piece wouldn’t be able to match that level of results.

Other benefits of content marketing such as leads, backlinks and social mentions, organically, most big brands produce a far greater volume of these than what a small brand / medium sized business can manufacture.

To add to this, I also think that if orchestrated, big brands could very easily dominate content marketing. Obviously from the potential reach, but I mean more in terms of quality in this case. A company like Cisco, to use them as an example again, could more easily pool together some of the most respected and recognizable minds in the networking field, probably some of which are full-time Cisco employees, to create a white paper on networking best practices. The smaller business with the same idea wouldn’t necessarily be able to do something like that all that easily, and maybe employs one or two SME’s to the white paper. Cisco likely gets higher quality content in this case, you have a handful of the world’s best SME’s each contributing in a category that they specialize in, versus the smaller number of professionals, spreading out their contributions a bit more.

I think that this is a good thing, if big brands needed content marketing the way that smaller brands do, then the opportunity wouldn’t be there quite as much as it is now for smaller brands.

Are You SEO’ing Your Lead Gen Devices? Why Not?

No one will argue that content lead generation devices such as white papers, videos, webinars, etc. can be fantastic at generating industry relevant, top of the pipeline new leads for many organizations (obviously). Most companies content driving strategy includes using their social media following, sometimes press and perhaps their email marketing lists to move the message that their new lead gen device is available. In some cases, I’ve seen companies help co-market each other’s content in the form of emailing, social and blog posts.

In many cases, these content ideas have a downward sloping lead production curve. The campaigns come out blazing, several channels hit at once, heavy tweet schedules, email lists spaced out by a few days, etc. Then, the burst of new leads and re-engaged leads slowly dwindles, until the content has no other purpose but to be re-used lightly in drip campaigns or other short life campaigns.

A downward trending return on good content is really easy to avoid. Too many companies I know overlook the fact that a little SEO investment into a lead gen content piece, can go a really long way. Obviously, take the same opportunity research approach you take when evaluating any traditional hard lead, landing page, keyword opportunity. Where do you rank currently -> how much traffic currently – > how are conversions (from organic traffic) currently -> if those signs are positive then -> who ranks above you currently and how do they rank for the best keyword terms -> what work will it take to move in to a ranking that returns significantly higher results.

I always go in to content idea analysis with an organic SEO, keyword potential approach first. If I invest the time of one of my Subject Matter Expert’s, I want long term value, if it is indeed there for the taking. You can take this approach with anything in the content sphere, white papers, videos, webinars (turn webinars into accessible video with contact capture after the webinar) etc. First, plan the landing page out to include enough content to drive organic traffic and have all on-site SEO done correctly. Then build conversion optimization in to the landing page, include teaser vine videos, a snapshot of some of the white paper content, content quotes etc. Use some of your other web properties (micro / niche blogs, microsites) to assist the SEO on your landing page and to convert more traffic from those properties. Take some of the other steps you would follow to build inbound links. Also keep in mind, you don’t have to use your prime sources to build links for a piece of content like this, save those for hard-lead landing pages. With something like this, lower-end link building is usually sufficient.

But I Have So many Different Landing Pages for the Same Piece of Content…
Its not always the case that there is only one landing page for your content piece. In some cases, affiliate tracking url’s, session ID’s etc. can cause duplicate content issues with your content piece that may prevent it from performing to its SEO potential. I saw this recently with a client. In this case, be certain to establish a robots.txt rule to all other instances of the landing page other than the primary url. This may require a dev, but if you take the time to set it up properly initially, the results will be well worth it.

What to Expect
Obviously, as with all good SEO, the growth curve is generally slower and takes time. Do your on-site SEO work, do some initial off-site work, revisit in a couple of months, re-examine the ranking potential and do some more off-site work if its appropriate. As you can see from the Graph 1 below, we rolled out a somewhat niche content piece that we thought had some potential to reach a certain type of target customer in late March. We did on-site and off-site SEO in the next month and a half. In June, we moved the message to our social following. Obviously, the initial social push returned some solid results, but as the the next two months came, we did nothing else in the way of promotions. Graph 2 will show you the search traffic broken out of the overall traffic. The SEO worked, and now with steady rankings, we can expect a monthly lead flow from this content piece, without having to spend any marketing budget or human hours (this is a targeted piece, the conversion rate started out great and continues to increase). We can go ahead and move on to the next great content piece.

Growth Graphs