The industry standard for measuring earned media value (EMV), Ayzenberg Group’s Social Index released its Q4 White Paper findings including case studies and insights on the latest social media activations. 

We spoke with Ayzenberg VP of product and technology Chris Strawser to learn how marketers can overcome challenges with organic social, the key to turning owned media into earned media and how to approach social and digital strategies amid the coronavirus panic.

What is the top challenge marketers face today with tracking organic social content and what are some things they can do to overcome this?

As we highlighted in the latest White Paper, organic is a challenge, especially as it pertains or as contrasted to paid media tracking and attribution or any digital channel, because the platforms have a bit of the upper hand on how you’re able to do that. 

In terms of tracking performance, we created Social Index because it allows people to actually put a metric against their performance rather than eyeball their follower count or engagement rates or use some sort of social listening tool that allows them to understand what shared voice they have or how they’re tracking with sentiment against their campaign messaging.

Because social by itself doesn’t necessarily lend itself to any conclusion, part of what we do for our clients is take earned media value (EMV) or social index and put it in a constellation of other data points, drawing conclusions and making recommendations based on what we’re seeing. We’re trying to provide people with a top funnel data point that will lend itself to understanding a little bit better about how social performed for them down the funnel.

Beyond creating meaningful calls to action and planning SMART, how else can marketers get better at converting owned media to earned media?

We used to use the term return on investment (ROI) more than we do now and I think it’s because ROI is a little misleading. When you go to an executive and say, this is your ROI, they’re expecting that to be dollars in the bank, for lack of a better term.

This is more like valuation. So there’s a valuation we’re putting on your current social media performance that through your own channels should then translate into earned media. If you’re evaluating yourself week over week, month over month, quarter over quarter and that valuation continues to increase, you should see a direct cause and effect between the value of your owned channels translating into earned media. And we’re seeing that type of cadence and result for some of our biggest clients. 

But when you’re trying to figure out why the valuation went up for a certain campaign as opposed to the other, it’s about looking at exactly why it worked—was it the creative, the copy or a combination of both. Was it the cadence of the messaging in the campaign, how often you were touching people and reaching out and how often they were engaging?  The valuation that we provide is a springboard for people to then figure out the reason why a campaign was valued more.

Can you explain how the new EMV calculation method Ayzenberg created works and how it solves the issue of comparing EMV to actual budgets? 

What we’re trying to do for our clients is to make sure that they know where they should be spending money, especially in contrast to how they spent it before. We have a lot of clients who are spending inordinate amounts of money on creative. If you’re running something that you know is going to resonate more on Twitter, spending a lot of money on creative isn’t the priority and instead you might need a more tight communication strategy associated with the campaign than you do for Instagram.

We’re also trying to coach people on using EMV the way they calculate it internally because everyone seems to have their own way based on what your campaign KPI is for. If you were going top funnel, say awareness, then go for impressions. Maybe you’re not going deeper into engagement rates because that’s not really the point. If it is about the impression, then maybe you don’t need certain resources allocated against the effort and you can save some time and streamline some of the effort going into it in the future. 

What we had people doing was adding all of the impressions, every share, like, retweet and subscription and then saying, okay, our overall EMV is this. If you looked at that figure more from a statistical perspective, you’re looking at an inflated number because that’s not how most other marketers work through other channels. They don’t have a campaign geared specifically towards certain KPIs and then add in all the other ones that trickled in or came along in the periphery of things.

How should marketers shift their social content strategies during coronavirus?

Even if you have a brand that doesn’t tie directly to anything that’s going on right now, or at least you think you don’t, one of the things that we found at Ayzenberg, especially through our marketing science department, is that younger age demographics, particularly millennials, care about what your brand thinks about other things beyond what the brand offers—your stance is on certain things. Social media right now then is a great way for a lot of brands to make a name for themselves and put forward a certain type of messaging that they haven’t before, but shows a lot more empathy and engagement. For example, share the things they’re doing for the community. 

You’re reaching people on social media right where they are and those people are consuming information in the minute that it’s released. A brand who’s able to capitalize on that real time, ‘this is happening right now’ information is going to see a pretty big lift in earned media. 

This way you’re making the brand much more approachable than maybe it ever had been before, because now you’re talking to people about something they care about at the moment rather than talking about your sale on products and services.

Does that also apply to digital content strategy amid coronavirus?

Most social media managers and teams are able to put out really good quality messaging that reflects very well on the brand very quickly. Whereas with digital mediums, there’s so much lifting that goes on to get something out the door. There is something about social that is so immediate and impactful that I think social should be the leader. Your digital channel should follow. So it’s flipped, especially in times like these. 

But I would even say this applies generally. I think you should be thinking social first, because of the possibilities and then make sure that everyone else falls in line behind it, which is a little bit of a paradigm shift for most organizations. I think we still struggle getting clients and customers to think that way, but times like these help them because they see the impact social can have.

With the rise of social commerce, how important will Pinterest be for marketers looking to boost discoverability?

Social commerce across the board should definitely see an increase in demand however it’s been slow due in part to the user experience that some of the platforms are putting forward. 

Right now, I don’t know if anyone’s really figured out the commerce user experience very well. But I do think that it should play a much bigger part in the next two to three years. These platforms are still playing in a bit of a Wild West and have to figure out on their own since there’s no playbook for them to go on.

Snapchat emphasizes self-service advertising with its Lens Studio and Lens Web Builder while advertising capabilities on TikTok are still nascent. Which platform would marketers be wiser to create owned and/or paid content for today: TikTok or Snapchat, and why?

It depends on what your KPIs are and what your goals and your target audience is. The younger you get in those segmentations I think that both of them become increasingly important. TikTok is a little bit more niche in its communication style, so you may have some limitations based on the campaign you want to run through TikTok rather than Snapchat.

You don’t necessarily have to pick and choose. You have to know what you’re after and who you’re after. Once you have those questions answered, you can start to dig into whether or not you choose one of the two platforms or maybe both. In those cases, most people do both and they tailor messaging to the platform.

Instagram recently said it’s testing IGTV monetization with in-stream ads—how will this affect its performance against YouTube? 

It really depends on who the audience is. YouTube has a strong monthly user base that ranges from mobile to smart TV across every audience. There isn’t a niche not represented on YouTube. We don’t see IGTV as a competitor to connected TV or desktop advertising. While Instagram has become more popular with broader audiences over the years, we don’t think it’s as robust of an audience to sell to as YouTube (plus it’s limited to mobile, and only recently allows horizontal video).

Which tool or strategy to power KPIs for influencer and social campaigns do marketers undermine the most today?

This is relative to what part of the funnel you are targeting with influencers: awareness? consideration? conversion?

For awareness: Here you’re going to want to focus more on total reach and cost efficiency (CPM, CPV) of that reach, along with brand lift as measured by surveys and search lift.

For consideration: If video is available, view duration combined with total views to create a “High Quality Video View” that measures people watching more of the content (this is rare unless it’s run as an ad). Alternatively, typically clicks and website traffic are good targets.

For conversion: Actual Conversions (as defined by the organization) and cost efficient (CPA, ROAS).

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