Lord Leverhulme’s famous remark “I know half my advertising isn’t working, I just don’t know which half” seems somewhat redundant in our world of real time data analysis and last click attribution. However, one part of the marketing mix which remains extremely tricky to measure is social media.

You don’t get much bigger in social marketing terms than Coca Cola, with over 62 million fans on Facebook and gargantuan levels of investment in social activity. So then, their recent announcement that they haven’t seen any uplift in sales from this, has left social media managers around the world reeling and CMOs questioning the value of social.

As discussed in this great blog post by Patricio Robles, it certainly suggests that we should all think carefully about our social media approach. Yet Coca Cola has no plans to stop it’s social efforts, and other brands continue to focus heavily on these channels. Why? For one thing, this form of communication isn’t just about driving sales, it’s about listening to your customers and what they think about your brand. Social media provides an exceptional opportunity to get to know the people buying your products and services.

Of course, social can also push sales too. Indeed, recently one of our clients was able to directly attribute 13% of monthly sales to social media marketing.

I think one of the key learnings from this story has to be that any social media campaign must have a clear business objective. Are you trying to drive sales? Or do you just want to learn more about customers, what they talk about in the social world, what they are saying about your brand? Do you want to drive brand awareness, or reach out to influential people in your category?

Once you have these objectives, you have to install a meaningful and consistent way of measuring how you are performing against them. This might be attributed revenue, website referrals, engagement indicators like fan numbers or mentions, or they might be softer KPIs like brand sentiment metrics.

Most of importantly of all, you have to make sure that you regularly review and analyse these measurements, and take action based on them. If one aspect of your social marketing isn’t performing then change or stop it, if another is excelling then do more of it!