Does Your Social Media Strategy Include Measurable Results?

Measuring results from Social Media can be tricky for managers and HR . (Photo by Dreamstime).

Isaiah Mustafa isn’t a household name (yet). Though if you mention the character he portrays, you might recognize him a little better.

Mustafa is the Old Spice guy. He’s that guy that’s all over both the TV and YouTube. He always conveniently has his shirt off and talks about how good he smells. Not that I’m bitter or anything, but he could at least wear a shirt once in a while.

So are the traditional commercials and online viral campaign causing men and women alike to rush to the nearest store to pick up a bottle? And is there a lesson for all of us who are either in the process of developing social media strategy for employment or looking at evaluating the results of a recent campaign?

Measuring results of advertising

Advertising Age ran a fascinating article that covered just Old Spice’s TV advertising. They mention that while share and sales have gone up since the advertising campaign began, it also corresponded with some unprecedented levels of national marketing (particularly high value coupons). That’s not to mention that Old Spice is simply just gaining market share ground from where it was a year ago.

It will be interesting to track how the viral videos on YouTube will impact sales of the product. Unfortunately, just like the TV advertising, it will be hard to isolate any gains or drops in the context of other marketing campaigns going on at the same time.

Of course, some would argue that it isn’t about products shipped, especially in the short term. It is about branding, engagement, and sharing. All of that is fair, but eventually, something has to come of it. Whether it be a product sale or a candidate relationship, the end result has to involve attracting the right talent to the organization.

Skepticism of impact

While everyone raves about the great online campaign Old Spice put on, skeptics are starting to pop up about the value of social media as a marketing vehicle.

When you think of damaged brands, you probably think of BP (something we covered earlier). One name that might not be popping to the top of your head is Nestle, which suffered a dramatic enough online protest as to warrant being covered in The Wall Street Journal. While advocates pointed out the massive online response (and some of the follies of Nestle in responding), the Financial Times paints a much different story. It says:

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Greenpeace, which recently ran an internet-based campaign against Nestlé over the use of palm oil from rainforests in Indonesia, concedes that it probably had no impact on the company’s sales. The long-running anti-Nestlé campaign over the sale of breast-milk substitutes has not stopped its sales from growing either.

Certainly the revolution that social media was to bring has been fairly light in the impact department thus, far but does that mean it has no value?

Smart social strategy

Call it maturation of the medium but advertisers are starting to realize that they actually need a plan if they want to do more than have a branding exercise. Ultimately, a company isn’t doing a coupon drop or a national TV campaign as a branding only exercise. They want to see those results come through sales. And even though there’s a consumer behavior difference between a coupon and a TV campaign, marketers are still looking at the results of both.

If your social strategy is to elicit a specific action (like an application into your ATS), certainly you can track that with the help of your vendor. With an online social strategy, this tracking can be made even easier.

If you’re looking at videos or more viral branding exercises, trying to gauge the response through social media (are people sharing the video?) or web traffic (are more people coming to the site than usual?) are common ways. You’ll want this data both when you get a hit and when you get a dud so that you can move your overall strategy forward.

It’s a hunch (and not a very risky one at that) but my guess is that results-oriented social media strategy will be what drives marketing strategy for both products/services and employment.

Lance Haun is the practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy, where he focuses on researching and writing about work technology. He is also a former editor for ERE Media, broadly covering the world of human resources, recruiting, and sourcing. 
He has been featured as a work expert in publications like the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, Fast Company, and other HR and business websites.
He's based in his Vancouver, Wash., home office with his wife and adorable daughter. You can reach him by email or find him off-topic on Twitter.