While some brands continue to debate the merits of social media in their marketing mix, others have made tangible strides in measuring these initiatives. Defining the roles and responsibilities of each channel within the brand marketing mix allows brand managers to decipher the social dilemma.

First, identify social media levers while understanding the drawbacks. Second, develop relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to the brand's business objectives. Next, use advanced analytics for your social campaign to explain what went right and wrong and why.

Let's review some measurement components in the social space: reach and engagement. Reach is defined as the number of impressions, followers and fans. This top of the funnel metric is measured to address two questions: Do we maximize the brand's audience social eyeballs? Can we compare these social to other media eyeballs?

If properly measured, the answer to the second question may reveal a prominent social media advantage: captive reach. The Facebook process of “liking” is a powerful indication of trust and emotional connection toward your brand. Its value is dependent upon the circumstances by which your audience discovers you. A consumer's “Like” could mean any one of these three things:

“I like the content.”

“As a result of exposure to the particular content, I like the brand.”

“I will share with others this particular and future brand content.”  

Once we establish the reporting and measurement process and start tracking it over time, we can optimize “captive reach.” We need to design the analytical data infrastructure to explain the potential reasons or factors leading to the increase or decrease in “captive reach.” 

Advanced statistical methodologies can help solve the social media holy grail by linking social media activity to financial metrics such as sales. Brand managers need to clearly define the role of social media in their marketing mix, and set clear measurement KPIs and predictive analytics. This will produce a well-defined social accountability and necessary confidence in related discussions with management.    

Avi Savar is the founder of Big Fuel.

Read the full article at Direct Marketing News: http://www.dmnews.com/yes-you-can-effectively-measure-social-marketing/article/203582/.