social media measurement
11 January 2017

Social media marketing: avoiding measurement mess-ups

Two social media heavyweights are currently facing major questions from advertisers following mistakes in their reported metrics. Facebook has been holding talks with measurement watchdog, the Media Ratings Council (MRC), following a series of high-profile errors in the verification of its video and reaction metrics. Twitter was recently forced to admit a bug in its app, which inflated video ad numbers by as much as 35%.

For brand marketers, both in-house and agency side, the data reported by social platforms is key to proving ROI for activity; a dodgy stat can have a disastrous impact on performance reports if not spotted in time. But these headlines show that even the most established channels can fall fowl to bugs and errors, so how can you be sure the social media story you’re presenting is correct?

While it’s likely reporting systems will never achieve a stellar 100% accuracy record, here are a few sanity checks you can do yourself.

1. Smell a rat? Question it

If a social post got ten times the shares you normally see on your content, can you see a reason for it? Did you try a different type of post, such as dipping your toes into video content, or linking to an engaging external article? Does the timing coincide with a key piece of media coverage? If not, it’s worth contacting the social platform to question it, so you can be sure your data is accurate.

2. Benchmark against competitors

Look across no less than three to give it context. Have they experimented with similar content, and if so how did it perform? This can give you an idea of whether yours is doing better or worse around the industry standard. It can also help you inform your ongoing content strategy. Be sure to keep in mind the size of their social following in comparison to yours when doing this. If they have double the followers you do, expecting half the likes, shares or views they’ve received is a good way to benchmark it.

3. Use your common sense

This is a surprisingly easy step to miss when a report is due and your team is time-poor. We’re all consumers when it comes down to it, so think about your own online behaviour. For example, if every single video view led to a click through to the website, that means EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has watched it has completed the desired action… if it sounds too good to be true, this may just be the case!

This said, genuine data errors are rare in the grand scheme of things and there’s no need to question every result. But it’s important to remember not to take statistics at face value only. Be sure that you can justify the reaction to a piece of content to yourself and, in turn, your seniors, to create a well-informed social media content strategy.