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How Are You Really Doing?

Measuring Social Media and Content Marketing, Part 1 of 3

Posted 2014, Jul 23, 1:05 a.m. - Martin van der Roest, Batavia Research

Image - Every Which Way

I recently had lunch with a long time personal and business friend.  He was already seated when I arrived.  As I sat down, he must have picked up a vibe … when he asked curiously, “so ... how are you doing”?  

For the past few weeks prior to our lunch, I had really been struggling with the poor results of an ongoing project.  Was it for a lack of effort?  I didn’t think so. Bad talent?  Doubtful … a few of the folks on the team struck me as bright, smart and hardworking.  My sense was that the team lead was simply running into some tough technical challenges. We talked time and again about changing “this and that”.  But the same poor results kept cropping up.  It was like the little Dutch boy trying to plug up the dam.  The poor kid is working hard, but unless the fundamentals in the dam are changed, it’s a futile effort.

How am I doing?  Fine.  How am I really doing?  Very frustrated!  I’ve moved into my “expectation management” mode.

Does this sound familiar?  Your digital marketing team seems to be working hard and putting in long hours.  KPIs such as posting activities, engagements and visitors seemed to be in line with targets.  But the results are clearly missing expectations.  What is going on?

Busy Outpaces Results

Image - BataviaResearch - Graphic

The above graphics reflect the actual activities and results for a small multi-unit business over a 90 day period.  The left chart shows the number of posts to 3 channel platforms.  The right chart shows “reaction ratio” at these same channels.  The reaction ratio is the average number of people responding with a comment, sentiment, share, etc., for every post.

If you were to ask the person responsible for the results on the left, “so how are you doing”?  It would be hard to argue their efforts.  Over a period of 90 days the folks on this team posted nearly 2,500 times! That’s about 28 times per day!  7 days a week!  Wow … you couldn’t ask for more.

But the results on the right tell quite a different story.  Except for the YouTube numbers, the posting activities for the other 2 channels are basically producing insignificant reactions.  Not even a "like"?!  The words “feels like pounding sand” come to mind.

Random Acts of Marketing

I might be able to accept the above results as an experiment if it weren’t for the fact that it’s been going on for much longer than 90 days.  How many organizations are running experiments, but blindly trudging on?

To "help" all these folks out, it's frankly a bit unsettling to see the abundance of “sage advice” from the experts.  It’s a barrage of "top 5 things to do", "these 3 game-changing steps”, “10 KPIs that will drive sales”, and countless other jaw flappings burped up from the "random acts of marketing" camp serving up the “de jour" knee-jerk favorites of the day.

The short history of social media and content marketing have in part shaped this thinking. There is a younger generation that is immersed in social media.  This is bookended with an older generation that is skeptical of its value and ROI.  I have heard some marketing managers suggest that their social media and content marketing are being done by part-time interns, outsourced to overseas writers unfamiliar with perhaps cultural nuances, and office personnel already tasked with other responsibilities and so on.  The message is ‘it’s not a big deal”, “anyone can do it” and “I don’t really think it’s that important”.

Process Will Drive Results

Social media and content marketing are in fact an important dimension of the overall marketing efforts for B2B businesses.  And, as in other business disciplines there is an underlying process.

Batavia Research has embraced a seven (7) content marketing lifecycle process.  This is reflected in the diagram below.

Image - Batavia Research - Content Marketing Lifecycle

The Content Marketing Lifecycle

To varying degrees, every organization has such a process.  Of course, the allocated budgets and resources will vary. But what if we could assess the process … regardless of budget and resources?  Instead of asking the question, “how are you doing?” Could you infer an answer to “how are you really doing”?

Measure the Process

All processes ultimately produce performance, behavioral and predictive “signals”.  In the consumer world, various “signals” are brought together to create an individual’s credit score.  For businesses we see Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Index to characterize the housing market.  Both of these indices help us quickly understand the state of certain activities, direction, and emerging trends.  They help us develop an “apples to apples” understanding.  They help us make decisions.

So, how about an index to characterize a company’s social media and content marketing performance and activities?  And what would this look like?  

Batavia Research has done just that.  It has developed the Content Marketing Index that is a data-driven, evidence-based, social business barometer of a company’s social media and content marketing activities.  It is based on the principle that the manifestations of an organization’s content marketing lifecycle activities can be observed, measured and translated into actionable and predictive insights.  

By applying common criteria, the Content Marketing Index serves as a “yard stick” that can be used to support various activities such as data-driven marketing, benchmarking, comparative analysis, and even purchasing.  Additionally, the nature of the index suggests that even as it evolves, is changed and/or refined, all organizations to which the Index is applied are measured by the same standards and criteria.  

Improve the Processes and You’ll Improve the Results

Intended to activate discussions and perspectives, this is the first of a 3 part series. Next week In part 2 we will look at performance benchmarking and competitive analysis. Part 3 the following week will explore “predictive” opportunities using social business intelligence data. Embracing an index such as the CMI will only come with acceptance of its value and credibility.

I invite you to participate by raising questions, concerns, skepticisms and affirmations, and look forward to talking with you in person at "The B2B Content Marketing Forum & Harbor Cruise, Sunset Reception" - August 6, 2014 in Newport Beach.

Photo - Martin van der Roest - Batavia Research

Martin van der Roest, President and Co-Counder - Batavia Research
Member, SoCal BMA


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