The State of Social: February 2017

By John Kultgen, Content Director and Charlie Balk, Director of Paid Social

One of the most exciting—and yet challenging—things about social media is that it’s always changing. This month is no different, so I spoke with Charlie Balk, Director of Paid Social, to discuss the state of social. Specifically, I wanted to discuss how the industry will measure success in this upcoming year. 

What success metrics do you think are most important for 2017? Why?

There’s a lot of different directions to go in. Continuing to find ways to measure conversions online and offline is always the primary goal because, at the end of the day, attributing purchases back to advertising is the ideal scenario. The more ways you can track the customer journey, the better.
Outside of that, Facebook has been telling us for a long time now that their "estimated ad recall" is a better indicator of purchase behavior than simple "engagements." 
“Estimated ad recall" is superior because it measures the amount of attention the user paid to the ad. Whether or not a person actually clicks like/comment/share on a post might not be as valuable as the number of people slowing down to read the ad. While I don't think it's the only solution for non-conversion, non-lead and non-traffic objectives, we are going to continue to push our brands in that direction.

What's the most common misconception about social media that you come across when talking with marketers? 

The whole follower count dialogue should have ended years ago, yet still persists. All of the networks we recommend to clients include robust advertising platforms that allow us to reach people outside of followers and to do it far more effectively than posting organically to an incredibly expensive pre-qualified audience. It’s also a lot more cost effective to create a loyalty program or email list that we can use to target an audience. 

Other misconceptions?

Marketers are too easily impressed by Facebook's video view count, failing to realize that a user only has to watch for 3 seconds for it to count as a view. Facebook has been in some hot water for this and other misleading numbers, so they're taking steps to make it clearer. 
Fancy new ad formats are often great for engagement numbers, but not necessarily good for driving measurable conversions. While it's good to be an early adopter, it's important to utilize new features as more of a "test" as opposed to a long-term strategy.
Sometimes a higher cost per (non-conversion) action can be better for your business goals, especially if the audience is more qualified. Facebook has certain data segments which it seems to charge more for (or, it's just a more competitive target), but if your target audience is within that group it's often worth paying extra per impression.

Which network or feature is often overlooked? 

Overall, Facebook is virtually the best social network at everything from an advertising perspective. Twitter has some interesting TV and event-based targeting capabilities that give it a leg up on real-time content/ads. LinkedIn is expensive except when you're advertising B2B, recruiting, or doing some other form of marketing that really emphasizes job title, experience, industry, company etc.
Right now, I think brands were too quick to adopt Snapchat. It's not delivering on its high minimums, but as the API becomes more accessible, it's probably going to be the next big advertising solution behind Facebook/Instagram.
I've thought for a long time that podcast advertising is both cheap and effective. I don't if everyone would consider that social and marketers might have already saturated podcast advertising, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

What's your advice to a marketer that really wants to up their social media presence this year? 

Figure out what you do well and focus the majority of your efforts there. Outside of that, allocate a specific percentage of budget/resources/time to test other things. Keep testing until you or your department can add to the thing(s) you're able to do well.
 

Interested in knowing more about defining success on social media? Get in touch with Likeable Media to learn more.