Demystifying Social Measurement

It's been a while since Team AUSAM has had a social post. Luckily one of our Board Members, Kristen Sussman, is the Founder and President of Social Distillery - a social media agency here in Austin. We've asked Kristen to help us better understand how to measure and extract value from social. We're very excited for her first guest post below.


As an organization AUSAM's mission is to advance the media industry through research and education. To achieve this, our first meetup and launch party hosted a panel discussing current industry trends. Naturally, the conversation led into the challenges advertisers face measureing attribution such as business value, sales and return on investment (ROI). This was exciting and it felt like our launch was already headed in the right direction.

Recently, some of our board continued this discussion, citing an article published in the Journal of Advertising and Research written by Brad Smallwood, VP of Measurement at Facebook. Titled, "Resisting the siren call of popular measures: Facebook research shows no link between trendy online measures and ad effectiveness". Yes, that's actually the full title. This may come as a shock, but in the article Brad states that likes - the metric that measures your community size - aren't important.

As the founder of Social Distiller, I wanted to share positioning as well as how we're working to better determine the right metrics for measurement. We also believe that "vanity metrics", such as likes, aren't the best way to measure the impact of marketing investment. Ultimately, Smallwood says it well in his article, suggesting, "...if the metrics your track say little to your Chief Financial Officer, chances are you would benefit from reconsidering them."

Furthermore, marketers need to consider how social media, data and measurement tie to their organization's overall business goals to ensure they're getting a good return on their investment and work. Determining the right strategy and plan starts first with knowing the goals and intricacies of how and why the business you're marketing for operates. Measurements such as average cost per unit, customer lifetime value and profit margins can help drive these strategies and plans.

Three of the most common areas we've seen social media benefit ROI is through remarketing/retargeting and brand advocacy. For example, we learned that an e-commerce client of ours drove nearly 60% of their sales through email marketing. So, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, we developed a "then and now" campaign on Facebook that quizzed people on the price of products that they sold asking, "which cost more, this 1990 mobile phone or an Apple iPhone6?". People who completed the quiz were entered for a chance to win prize products by entering their email and contact info. The social media campaign generated over 300 new emails, enabling over $30,000 in sales.

As passionate marketers and researchers, we'll continue to explore the ROI question of our work and hope to continue to uncover positive correlations between social media activity and sales results. Meanwhile, Facebook's data science team also continues in this pursuit, helping to ensure our media spend on platforms like theirs are as efficient and effective as made possible by the people running the programs.