From Dec 2012 – Social becomes measurable (and more segmented) – The idea of creating Facebook likes seems to be old news. There are now mature tools and methodology to measuring social ROI. Gamification and viral programs are still topical, but using social monitoring, ad targeting, and personalized call-to-action is now directly measurable and included in more mature attribution models.

Almost every Fortune 500 company has a presence in social media, nowadays. According to recent research by UMass, 77% are on Twitter, 70% on Facebook and 69% on YouTube. While adoption isstill lacking for Fortune 500 CEOs, the overall corporate adoption for social media continues to surge, but simple “likes” and retweets as KPIs are no longer sufficient, lead generation tops the stack of measurable and desirable outcomes for a presence in social media and content strategy. So how has social media measurement and segmentation changed so far in 2013 to help support these goals.

The big 4 social networks for corporations (by the numbers) are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, so I will focus this discussion around these networks.

All four networks rolled out some form of new analytics in 2013, and the focus seems to be on conversions and engagement, as it should be.

  • Facebook expanded their “insights” feature to include more data about which posts were engaged with the most. Demographic breakdowns based around types of content and sponsored posts give additional data for marketers to refine their social approach. Users can also see how their fans reacted to posts, such as determining whether they hid certain posts, or unliked a page after a post.
  • LinkedIn added additional analytic support to company pages in July, allowing businesses to track how content was shared across the network. This is towards an overall push to turn LinkedIn into more of a content sharing ecosystem, as witnessed in the sponsored posts feature I will explore in the next segment.
  • Twitter is also offering analytics for their ads, although this is not an option for non-advertisers on the platform.
  • YouTube allowed users to track the performance of their top 200 videos or channels in July. They also added new graphs to track content views over time – for videos and for channels.

Segmentation and ad targeting seem to be paramount in 2013, following the lines of advertisers’ needs more measurable results from analytics and native advertising.  All four networks rolled out advanced advertising platforms, focused on reaching the right people with the right content.

  • LinkedIn rolled out “Sponsored Updates” in July. David Hahn, LinkedIn’s vice president of product management, said in a statement, “Marketers can target Sponsored Updates to any segment of our premium audience based on professional profile data across more than 225 million members.” This focus on segmentation and an overall embracing of analytics for content distribution makes LinkedIn a formidable power in Social Media marketing, especially for B2B companies.
  • Twitter rolled out an advanced advertising API for it’s “Promoted Tweets” in February. This new interface focuses on “the most relevant Promoted Tweets from advertisers,” with better targeting to keywords, interests, gender, geography and device. A neat example is that promoted posts can be shared to “target by similarity to existing followers.”
  • Facebook added “Custom audiences” in 2012, and expanded this functionality in 2013 by adding “lookalike audiences” and pairing with third-party data vendors to better target market segments using modeling frameworks. There are now more pre-defined audience segments. Shopper loyalty programs provided this data to better form segmentation with advertisements, and Facebook is easily the most advanced in their use of data to better target audiences.
  • YouTube utilizes Google’s Adwords marketing platform for it’s video targeting. Keywords, demographics, and interest categories all factor in to what ads are seen by users.

So what does all of this mean to marketers in 2013? Social networks take results more seriously. They are moving away from simply “liking the like” and are entering a new generation of data-based segmentation and targeting.  Gaining more data from social impressions at the time of transaction helps delineate when and how users are converting. Combine these new analytics and advertising tools with marketing automation programs and conversion tracking, and you have a real equation for ROI.

Social media is about so much more than the bottom line, but it sure doesn’t hurt to be able to attribute direct leads, sales and referrals from a strong presence in social media.