Practical Ecommerce

Social Engagement for Ecommerce: How to Build, Measure, Improve

Building engaging social campaigns can seem like an overwhelming task. To begin with, there is the problem of defining social engagement itself. How do you measure this all-important aspect of your ecommerce business? What do you measure? And which analytical tools do you use?

Let’s start by distinguishing between two different metrics: (a) the measurement of how your on-site content is being shared and amplified, and (b) how others reference your brand’s outreach efforts in social media. The two are related, but the first requires viewing analytics specific to the content, while the second involves using third party apps such as Klout scores to determine the level of dialogue about your company. Think of this as a type of sentiment analysis for your brand.

Let’s start by distinguishing between two different metrics: (a) the measurement of how your on-site content is being shared and amplified, and (b) how others reference your brand’s outreach efforts in social media.

Also, focus on the social channels that are most important to your business. If your product relies heavily on a good graphic presentation — say, a floral business — then Pinterest or Instagram will likely be important to you. Measuring your influence on Twitter could be a poor use of your valuable time. If your business is more media oriented, however, measuring Twitter influence could be a very important. Most tools will tell you where your social influence is greatest, but you should also have an intuitive understanding of your target social audience.

For some great perspective on what you need to measure, and why, read an insightful post in Occam’s Razor, by Google Evangelist Avinash Kaushik. The author suggests four metrics to measure: conversation rate (comments), amplification rate (shares), applause rate (favorites) and economic value (sales, if applicable). If you, as a business owner, want to understand the impact of your efforts, measure some aspects of these four dynamics.

To help, here is a step-by-step process to define, execute, measure, and improve your social engagement efforts.

1. Define Key Performance Indicators

In a helpful post on the MOZ blog, some real-world questions are posed about defining KPIs relative to your business. Remember what your final objective is, and work backwards. In other words, establish the KPI first and then figure out how to measure it.

In the following steps, I’m going to suggest tools for generating the data you need. But you need to figure out how these relate to your objectives. Are you looking only at sales? Or are you trying to generate as many likes as possible?

The possibilities are endless, but you must measure these efforts somewhere. It could be as simple as a spreadsheet, like the folks at MOZ have put together and shared, which measures Moz’s progress for “Objectives and Key Results.”

Once you know what you want to measure, it’s on to step 2.

2. Install On-site Tools to Allow Sharing of Content

Earlier in this article, I said there are two different types of content sharing: on-site sharing and outreach efforts. Installing sharing buttons that link your visitors to your own social channels is a good start, but it’s not really amplifying your social reach.

What you really want is an easy means for visitors to share that content on their own social channels. This is what will generate conversations about your products, or amplify your marketing and promotion efforts.

This simplest way to generate these buttons is to use a free, on-site content-sharing service like AddShoppers, AddThis, ShareThis, or SumoMe. These applications allow you to install social sharing buttons on virtually any page on your site. But concentrate on your home page, category pages, and product pages. The buttons can easily be installed via cut-and-paste JavaScript, and you can select which social properties are best suited for sharing.

Visitors can share the content without leaving your site. For an example, below is a screenshot from AddShoppers, showing the sharing buttons (on the left) on its home page.

AddShoppers is a free, on-site content-sharing service. AddShoppers uses its sharing buttons on its own home page, on the left.

AddShoppers is a free, on-site content-sharing service. AddShoppers uses its sharing buttons on its own home page, on the left.

3. Measure the Influence

AddThis and ShareThis not only allow your visitors to share to their own channels, they also provide valuable metrics about which social channels are generating the most activity, which content is being shared the most, and who is doing the sharing.

Having generated a list of KPIs in the first step, above, at this point, we should simply be moving data from these analytical consoles to our spreadsheet to account for how our on-site content is being mentioned, amplified, and responded to. AddShoppers, for example, provides meaningful social analytics to your business once you have installed the sharing buttons.

AddShoppers analytics includes number of unique visitors, social shares, and clicks, as well as the number of "influencers," sales, and the amount of revenue.

AddShoppers analytics includes number of unique visitors, social shares, and clicks, as well as the number of “influencers,” sales, and the amount of revenue.

4. Generate Your Brand Content

The second type of engagement to measure is the impact of your content. These are the posts, videos, testimonials, and other assets that you generate to create your brand — beyond your products. In last month’s article, I suggested how to generate this valuable content using event marketing, which presents many opportunities for creatively expressing your brand. This content may be on-site or off-site, but either way, it should be consistent with your brand.

5. Use a Social Content Platform to Push Out Content

Last month, I addressed social media management tools to push out content. The list is extensive. These platforms offer free versions: MavSocial, Hootsuite, Buffer, Social Mention, SocialPilot, and GrabInbox. Push out your content in an organized, scheduled fashion, and, like the on-site social sharing tools, you can measure specific reactions to this content via analytics embedded within each app.

6. Consider Third Party Social Engagement Measurements

Hootsuite published a good article on using third-party tools to measure your engagement.

Hootsuite suggests free third-party tools such as Klout and Kred to help measure your overall engagement. While these tools are handy, you are best served by using the analytics embedded in the platform you use to push out your on-site or brand content. Google Analytics will also work for this purpose, with the proper tracking codes. You simply need to cut and past this data into your KPI spreadsheet so the consolidated info is living in one place.

Other paid social metrics platforms include PeerIndex, Hootsuite’s UberVu, and True Social Metrics, which also offers engagement measurements for SlideShare, Vimeo, and Vine.

7. Consolidate Your Information and Measure Against KPIs

You are now bringing together the engagement results of your on-site and brand content, to discover your most successful products and campaigns. It’s an ongoing process. As you learn which metrics matter the most, you will also hone in on the most important content for successful social engagement.

Richard Sexton

Richard Sexton

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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Gloria October 23, 2015 Reply

    For social media monitoring I recommend Brand24 which is very effective, easy to use and good looking internet monitoring application. It allows you to both track and engage online conversations relevant to your business.

    Our clients are thousands of brands of all sizes i.e. Intel, IKEA, H&M, GlaxoSmithKleine, Carlsberg. They use Brand24 to identify and analyze online conversations about their brands, products and competitors and find it very functional and effective.

    Feel free to try and share your opinion with us!

    • Richard Sexton October 23, 2015 Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Gloria. I’ll check it out!

  2. Steven Guy November 7, 2015 Reply

    I switched to Shareaholic for Share Buttons a while ago and have loved it from day 1. I find them to be easy to use and effective. My shares are up since switching. Curious as to what you think of them…