Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marketers Will "Like" Facebook's New "Insights"

Insights lets marketers monitor how users are interact with their brands.
I recently started reading several marketing blogs for an IMC class I'm in and was surprised to read Mark Schaefer's blog post about a major brand executive who measured his brand’s success on Facebook by having more "likes" than the leading competitor and getting the lowest cost per “like” ( because that social media strategy doesn’t sound very strategic.  

According to Randy Hlavac, the founder and CEO of Marketing Synergy, Inc. and one of my professors in Northwestern University’s IMC program, marketing has to be “significant, replicable, provable and manageable.” I'd have a hard time getting a c-level manager to invest millions of dollars in a marketing plan if I couldn’t demonstrate that it has all of the aforementioned qualities. The “like” strategy can’t demonstrate provable or significant results. The first problem with the “like” strategy is trackability. It's nearly impossible to determine if “liking” something on Facebook relates to purchase behavior or further brand engagement/loyalty. Many Facebook users only “like” something because their friends do and rarely, if ever, interact with the company’s Facebook page. A “like” in and of itself doesn’t prove anything. There’s also no way to assess the significance of a “like” for the same reason. It's nearly impossible to measure ROI based on "likes." What does “liking” something even mean?
Also, just measuring the number of "likes" doesn’t tell the brand manager anything about who actually likes the brand.  Marketers need to delve further to gather more data about the individuals. If a company wanted to engage college students on Facebook, it would probably want to know if only 40 to 50-year-olds “liked” the brand.

Thankfully for the brand manager in Mark Schaefer’s blog, Facebook recently released a new dashboard called “Insights” that helps marketers track and measure word-of-mouth and engagement ( Brand managers can see how many people they’re actually reaching on Facebook. Not only can marketers see the total number of “likes” a page has, they can see how many friends those fans have. “Insights” also tracks interactions with the brand’s page (including commenting on or sharing a post and responding to an event invitation, among others) and conversations about the brand. The dashboard also gives marketers demographic information about page visitors, like gender, age, location and language—allowing brand managers to see if their messages are reaching their target audiences. Facebook also released the “Insights” API so marketers can add their own metrics to the dashboard.

While there are still some large questions about trackability and movement to purchase, “Insights” gives marketers more tools to manage Facebook initiatives, measure their significance and conduct Social EKG’s. Marketers can also use these tools to assess the "buzz" worthiness of specific ad campaigns.  Companies can overlay Facebook activity and sentiment with different ads or messages to determine which generated the most conversation, which will be helpful in creating future viral ad campaigns.

Jimmy Podolny studies journalism, integrated marketing communications and political science at Northwestern University.You can follow him on Twitter @jamespodolny.

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