How to Solve the Biggest Frustration Marketers Have With Social

Posted on Jul 16, 2013 | 38 comments

How to Solve the Biggest Frustration Marketers Have With Social

When polled 88% of marketing professionals said they couldn’t accurately measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and the majority said lack of ROI measurement is their single greatest frustration with social media (Forbes). for marketers – Funnel

If you look at the left side of the graphic you’ll see the easy, traditional measurement of followers, RTs, FAVs & replies. And of course you could add up impressions by counting your the followers of everybody who had retweeted plus your own.

Clicks are also a simple measure that you can get from basic link tracking packages.

End of story. That’s all “top of funnel” analysis that leaves you flying blind as a marketer. It is what is commonly referred to as “vanity metrics” as in, “Look at how many more followers I got us! Or Likes – LIKES! Woo Hoo.

Of course it’s valuable to know how many clicks you drive. But if you want to be able to repeat your success on your next campaign you need to know more about how you drove those clicks:

  • Which social platform were they published on?
  • If you sent multiple Tweets you’d want to know which time of day was more effective
  • Which followers drove your RTs that drove your clicks

And so forth. Understanding what lights up actions from your social campaigns and earned media is the key to improving future performance.

Even still – we have only scratched the top end of the funnel actions. What you really want to know is which campaigns drove “bottom of funnel activities” such as: Purchases, newsletter signups, subscribers, comments and so forth in the same way you’d be tracking this on Google Analytics for your SEO / SEM campaigns, direct referrals, etc. (I have been an investor since 2009) has always provided these data through an API to allow developers to have social analytics embedded in their products or for internal use in their organization to drive more effective campaigns. Customers have long included some of the biggest names in social commerce and online gaming plus startups like TopSpin, Local Response, Maker Studios, StockTwits and the like.

But until recently we had not made these tools available to non-technical people – namely marketers who want to control their campaigns without necessarily wanting to call in the IT team to implement tools.

Today has announced that it has built a visualization and analytics tool for marketers at agencies, brands or frankly any business that has a need to more effectively run social campaigns. It was built in pilot with BMW, HP and one huge, beloved entertainment company here in LA that I guess was a bit gun shy to include their name in our announcement.

So now even if you’re not technical you can get a little, a solution targeted at businesses.

The other major pilot customer was

this guy


I have been using the basic visualization tool for 2+ years so when they told me they were building a new sweet of tools designed for marketers I was all over it. I’ve tried every product on the market and hadn’t found any other tool that met my needs so to have a chance to ask for what would make me more effective? No brainer.

Here’s a screen shot of my home page on


And from data you can start to discern … do I get more engagement when I Tweet with Twitter images or Instagram ones? Do I get more clicks if I ask a question in my Tweet text before my link or make a statement? If I Tweet something 3 times do my clicks start to diminish or is it a function of reaching more people who weren’t paying attention 3 hours ago due to time zones. And so forth.

If I sold stuff or drove other major actions (like wanting to increase media page views, video views, etc.) the data would be a lot more important to my bottom line. As it is I have been able to determine who drives the most clicks for my posts and how many page views each of those commensurate readers stick around for once on my blog.


  • robkischuk

    This is good stuff, Mark. Glad to see “clicks” in the midst too. As we work with online retailers, clicks are often the common language that social can provide and that they can attach a dollar amount to without getting into the guts of the commerce platform.

    I think we’re getting into an era of “opinionated social software”. Software that regurgitates the stats from the social platform APIs isn’t going to be enough. We need to guide people toward actual goals based on actual numbers. Glad to see pushing the thinking of what to expect from a social platform.

  • Douglas Crets

    This is great. Thank you.
    I might recommend and AirPr, too, for deeper dive, but easy to use reads of social data that drive ROI decision making. (yes, blatant plug)

  • awaldstein

    Mark–reposted original comment.

    This is a really important topic. I see platform after platform with good data and views across networks selling down and loosing their real value.

    See above please.

  • Jess Bachman

    As Gary would say “What’st he ROI of your mother?”. Giving people more data may not only cause them miss the forest for the trees, but also miss the tree for the branches. It can create a false sense of empowerment and allow sub-par marketers to justify themselves with yet another vanity metric. Still, I have nothing against metrics and reporting, they just make a better tool and doctrine.

    Additionally, I have designed many dashboard and analytic tools in the social media space and have found that many marketers just don’t know how to use dashboards. FB Insights dashboard as a prime example. I’ve seen customers (marketers) most receptive to natural language insights vs chart orgies. Truly great marketers can have a 6th sense when it comes to data, but most certainly don’t.

    Here is one example of natural language (umm.. ebonics) combined with insight surfacing, charts, and humor. It was auto-generated and part of a larger ‘report’.

  • Jess Bachman

    You shouldn’t have pulled it. It was a great comment.

  • awaldstein

    reposted as I got a few emails as well.

    don’t like to be negative but this is my biggest hot button.

  • robkischuk

    You can’t tie every post to a business metric. But social media is not an excuse to flee from business metrics, and posts intended to induce a business outcome should be measured against business metrics.

    If something is important enough to post on Facebook, Twitter, etc, it’s important enough to note the things that will make it more successful. Social has been in a sad state of measuring the measurable, which means many brands have become aspiring amateur comedians, often fully detached from the business.

  • William Mougayar

    With tools like this and others, we need to ask ourselves: Is Social Media exposure the goal or is it a means to an end? The outcome, from a marketing viewpoint is about many things: visibility, engagement, connections, referrals, emotions, trials, education, loyalty, orders, new clients, etc.. Some are tangible and measurable, others not.

    If this tool helps marketing objectives (not social media goals), then that’s great. I can’t really test it because I have to request a demo. Why can’t the product be tried for free via a frictionless process? I don’t want a demo. I want a TRIAL.

    But it’s great to see you pimp your portfolio companies a la Fred, even if they aren’t perfect yet :)

  • AnonCoward

    I think that’s “suite”, not “sweet”.

  • William Mougayar

    I’m with you Arnold. See my other comment here. There’s a big Arc between social media and marketing. Bridging it is still part art and bit of science, just like Marketing is. There is no silver bullet that I know of.

  • awaldstein


    I have requested a demo and out of a long-term respect for you, I commit to blog on the results of it.

    That being said I am a very hard sell.

    Yes, all platforms out there today do kinda suck. And as much as I like their positioning is verging in that grey area where simplification crosses the line to BS.

    They state:

    ..”measures the business value driven by each social post.”

    When you make ROI a marketing metric, the determent for every marketing action we make you are becoming the snake swallowing its tail.

    Once they, like the folks behind Hubspot, claim to be Social Media scientists, the true value of your tools quickly plunges into a Hallmark phrase.

    Marketing uses science, it is most definitely not one.

    Data means nothing. Interpretation is where meaning lies. In order to make the interpretation mechanical most (and I’m holding back here) make the platform bow to artificial scales and loose me and I think the potential value of what really is being sold.

    The world needs platforms for efficiency and to make parsing information easier to make decisions on. We don’t need marketing busy boxes. We need tools to help marketers do their jobs.

    Anxious to try this out. Strongly think they should reconsider how they articulate their claims. My bet is that they’ve built something really useful but are confusing the singer for the song.

    They are selling a view into one of the most intriguing and interpretative disciplines there is, not bathroom scales that tell you how much you weigh.

  • awaldstein

    I get measurements. I spent the late 90s+ building ecommerce companies on the backs of SEO and PPC.

    I agree there’s lots of noise and junk on the social web.

    Marketing is all about intent. Sometimes that intent is to create a dialog, sometimes to drive people into the funnel, sometimes to just sell.

    I also agree that KPIs (as much as I dislike this term) are useful in keeping track of stuff but monitoring likes, RTs and shares, while instructive is about as articulate as Mr. Ed pounding his hoof on the barn floor to talk to visitors.

    So yes, of course if we don’t pay attention to what we do we are just exercising our mouths. But to put force ROI on every aspect of marketing is just not right. And moreso, not at all useful.

  • awaldstein

    This is my biggest hot button.

    I want to control myself, I simply cannot;)

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    I believe it was Robert Scoble (re “What’s the ROI of your mother”). But I should say, you cannot operate with this when speaking about business. “Mother” in this case are either founders or shareholders.

  • Jess Bachman

    No, it was Gary.

    Consumers relationships with brands go way beyond clicks, likes, or whatever else your dashboard is showing you.

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    Hi, Mark!

    I believe we (meaning and our company, Campalyst) are fighting the same fight; meaning, trying to bring some sanity into social media marketing. Betting dollars on the number of “likes” will fade away, and marketers will start operate with more tangible metrics such as traffic, conversions and revenue. It happened in display, it happened in search, it happened in email. After all, measurability of digital is what drives it’s growth compared to traditional media. Social is just at it’s infancy stage, so it will take some time.

    As I have been saying for over 2 years now, irrespectively of how you treat social media, whether as a customer support or a marketing channel, as long as you spend money on it, you have to deliver a positive ROI.

    Happy to share our experience with agencies.

    “What’s the ROI of your mother” is the biggest excuse for all those “social media gurus”. If we’re speaking about businesses, “mothers” are shareholders that want to see a financial return.

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    wait, wait, wait. the video is dated Nov, 2011. I spoke about “What’s the ROI of your mother” tweet from Robert back in May, 2011 :) Don’t want to fight a useless fight, both are great!

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    I’d guess it works best with direct response marketers (at least, it’s our experience). Social is very close to email (multiple interactions before the click, but the end goal is the same).

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    one has to start with something: first, last click conversions. then, indirect conversions. then brand lift, etc. it’s a long way, but someone has to walk it.

  • awaldstein

    I agree.

    I’m all for looking across these platforms. All for metrics to help us be more efficient.

    Absolutely against forcing metics on a behavior that doesn’t fit.

    To state that you can measure the business value behind every post is not only not true (couldn’t be true even if you connected the metrics to your financial system) but it is just not useful.

    I’m always open to be proved incorrect. Please prove me wrong and show me how creating an arbitrary scale is useful.

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    my agency experience is mostly with CPG brands (Reckitt, Mars, Redbull), where proving the ROI of digital campaigns was the hardest. However, I still believe it takes baby steps to figure it out. We (, us) are doing our best, but “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. We will figure it out eventually, for sure :)

  • awaldstein

    I’m on your side on this.

    And yes, we are just at the very beginning of figuring this out.

    But if you have to sell the benefits of why Mars should have social accounts by using ROI, in my opinion, you are skirting the issue.

    These brands spend big bucks on endorsements, branding, sponsorships, charities and more. But to have a Facebook page you need to talk ROI? Just not getting your point of view here.

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    I believe we’re on the same page, as I wouldn’t DARE to pitch figuring out the ROI of social for Mars (sorry to say that @msuster, but I believe we can go waaay further then, and still we’re are not good enough for CPG brands). Same with Reckitt and Redbull. I hope one day we will figure it out, but for now we will focus on direct response marketers.

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    alright, Robert admitted that he picked up the term from Gary. My bad :)

  • Jevgenijs Kazanins

    @msuster @jstrauss where are you? such a great discussion about the ROI of social!

  • William Mougayar

    That makes sense. So, in this context, social media is part of the communications mix.

  • Jacqueline Wilde

    Maybe social isn’t meant to be so transactional. From what I’ve seen most companies are using it for brand building. Similar to the question “What’s the ROI of your mother?”, how do you value a brand like Coke or Apple? Even the valuation on their balance sheets is the result of educated guesswork.

    We may never have the exact tie between social engagement and dollars spent, so shouldn’t we think more about what’s directionally moving the brand instead of boiling it down to a hard and fast ROI?

  • msuster

    thanks, rob. we think metrics at the top end of the funnel matter, but without measuring the bottom end they aren’t fact based enough. We also believe in giving people more visibility in who drove results, when & how.

  • msuster

    Arnold, thanks for your comment. I have no problem with it nor do I suspect the team would.

    Our goal is to provide more actionable data for marketing professionals to do their jobs. We are part way on that journey. As a daily user of the product I can attest to its immediate value and (as Jonathan will tell you!) the next 10 things we need to build.

    Our goal is to migrate marketing managers away from pure vanity metrics where they were stuck 2 years ago. We want people to be able to tie top end of funnel metrics with bottom-end-of-funnel results.

    We also aim to provide actionable tools for marketers to be able to better mobilize social audiences.

    I didn’t put my screen grab on this post, but for every post I do I get visibility of who RTd, liked, commented, etc and their relative followers. Expect in the future for this also to be tied to my ability to thank or mobilize these people.

    I included a copy of it below, which shows my filtering for RT & sorting by audience.

    We welcome any feedback you have on our product and how to continue to make it better. I also would welcome your speaking directly with Jonathan on product vision so you can help both shape his views and at least understand where we’re heading.

    Thanks for contributing.

  • msuster

    And if that was the point that came across I didn’t make it properly. I responded to your main post below in the comments. The key to me is to:
    – give people more actionable data at top & bottom of funnel (and let them define what “bottom of funnel” is on their website)
    – give them tools to understand their audience and who is driving their actions
    – give them tools to mobile their audience (that is coming in near-term release).

    I hope I didn’t suggest that marketing was all science and could be run as such. If so, that was an overstatement on my part.

  • msuster

    You and I are aligned on this. My mantra to (and all companies) is simplify. Give people the most basic information they need to do their job better or you’ll end up making it worst. And … then make it configurable to the power user who is capable of getting the benefit from more detail.

  • msuster

    we help understand data at all stages of the funnel and are agnostic to how you interpret it or use it. re: demo – I’m sure we’ll eventually launch a trial. But we’re a small company and this is the best way for us to roll out in the way that consumers roll out “beta” programs.

  • msuster

    sorry. I wrote post but had 2 full days of meetings. I often come back a day later since I have to work in the middle of the day 😉 be in touch with us directly – we’d love to capture your thoughts on the space to help guide our product roadmap

  • William Mougayar

    That clarifies it, so the mapping to marketing objectives is de-coupled from the product. That makes sense.

    I’d love it if they could let me use it, as I could become a more informed advocate instead of an un-informed commentator.

  • awaldstein

    Mark–you are on the shortest possible list of people that I respect in sales and marketing.

    This is less about what your post says and more about how is positioning their product.

    Appreciate the response as I know that time is short always!

  • awaldstein

    I so value your time in responding here.

    Looking forward to trying it out.

    I’m so with you on actionable data and for my own companies and my clients, I address each of these items every day.

    To reiterate though, actionable data is not the same as stating that you “measure the business value driven by each social post.”

    There’s a balance between finding the positioning that connects and over promising. This, to me at least, crosses that line.

    Thanks–and again huge well wishes for your company’s new facilities and just a great swipe at a new and even more impactful future!

  • Daniel Mumby

    Jevgenijs, i agree that better measurement is critical to getting better SM ROI, but the debate seems to have missed a vital part of the equation (or perhaps I missed it) – driving higher quality engagements into the top of the funnel. Yes, I know- quality content is supposed to already do that
    I wonder if it could be done better -so pethaps I’ll put my money where my mouth is & build it.

  • Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Measuring campaign effectiveness at the bottom funnel is even difficult within salesforce. I am currently looking at improving our campaign attributions in salesforce and am learning that this is very difficult due to how many people use salesforce within the organization. Social media is still elusive for many B2b marketers but things like collecting lead names within twitter cards is one positive development.