How to Measure Social Success in Global Organizations

Three Strategies for Communicating Insights from Social Data

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You run marketing for a global brand, with a worldwide goal of increasing social media reach. And when your teams report back, you see real success -- in France, organic content shares spiked; in India, brand mentions skyrocketed; Taiwan, meanwhile, saw a significant increase in reach.

But which team best met its goal? Since every team has calculated success slightly differently, you actually don't know.

Given how data-rich social media is, it might come as a surprise that many brands struggle to corral all that data into marketing programs driven by key performance indicators. But largely because there's so much information -- across a dizzying array of paid and organic platforms -- it can be hard to turn the data jumble into insights, and so it can be equally hard to use data to steer the course of campaigns.

How can social organizations manage information from data point to ROI? Much of the answer comes down to core practices around communicating data within the organization.

That's a truth I've learned over years of watching global brands succeed with social data. Here are three strategies for how to achieve that:

1.Define key performance indicators

There are many ways to calculate KPIs. That's particularly true in social media, with so many outlets in the mix -- many of which crop up suddenly and constantly evolve. That's why it's critical for each organization to define what its KPIs are and how they'll be calculated globally.

What's the combination of views, shares and mentions that the organization calls "reach?" What formula of likes, shares and positive comments is used to measure customer sentiment? These are the kinds of questions each organization needs to define worldwide.

One route I've seen work powerfully: A global KPI glossary/bible -- an actual document or spreadsheet used to guide the global organization. If everyone is literally reading from the same document, it's a lot easier to stay on the same page during data-driven discussions.

2. Make performance data readily accessible

Metrics only guide actions if people are aware of them. So it's critical that organizations have a clear way to put the right people in touch with relevant success indicators -- whether that's a dashboard log-in, an email alert, or a shared report (Access to that information has to be filtered, of course; there are both sensitivity issues and information overload to consider). Where relevant, that method of publishing information to the right people needs to be real-time. For example, content creators can quickly push out content around trending topics; teams can quickly support high-performing messages with paid media; and teams can respond to customer feedback -- positive or negative -- right away.

3. Spread the wisdom

Every social marketer can tell you data-driven learnings they've uncovered -- things like what kind of content works best at lifting a KPI; the best times of day to share a recipe; what products performed best with user-generated images; and what they've learned about the competition's efforts. If you share those data pockets with the organization, then you've transformed them into actionable insight at scale.

Internal newsletters can be enormously helpful here -- with individual marketers tasked with sharing a handful of key learnings per week, and managers or editors compiling those learnings into instructional content to share organization-wide. Content libraries, where employees across the organization upload successful content and tag it by keyword and KPI -- and other employees can search the database to see what's worked -- are incredibly powerful, too. Of course, these initiatives need management-driven incentives to get employees to share as much information as possible -- but I've seen the results achieve wonders.

Set data standards across the global organization. Ensure employees have the information they need. Empower people to share what they've learned. None of these suggestions are rocket science. But they do require a focused strategy to implement correctly -- something many global marketing organizations still find to be a challenge. If you can make it all work, though, you've built a key infrastructure for creating one of the most powerful things in marketing today: A data-driven social enterprise.

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