Optimize Campaign ROI With Predictive Social Analytics

As Mark Twain once said, “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” This is particularly poignant when looking at social programs and campaigns.

Successful brands are taking strategic advantage of using social data and social analytics to build more insightful and customer-driven campaigns that realize business impact and social return on investment.

As Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” This is particularly poignant when looking at social programs and campaigns. Thinking you know what will resonate or drive success without research is the kiss of death.

Launching a social campaign without conducting a thorough social analysis of your target markets, segments, consumers and past campaigns can lead to subpar results. It is critical to use social listening and social analytics to really understand the data and, in turn, fuel campaign creative and strategy, which will boost the performance of your campaigns.

I recently published a piece on the progression path from social listening to social intelligence and the use cases and business drivers that are generally followed through this maturing of your social program, and campaign measurement is one of the foundational use cases that drives sophistication and adoption of your social programs. Feel free to dig deeper into the key business use cases that I see driving this adoption here.

Below is a breakdown of the four quadrants of success/failure into which campaigns can fall, based on budget and results. I have plotted the results here based on a Social Reputation Score.


Social Reputation Scores allow organizations to understand how they compare to their competitors within their markets, and against other markets, by analyzing customer satisfaction in real time. Brands use SRS as a business metric for customer satisfaction, as well as for industry benchmarking, competitive analysis, campaign measurement and crisis monitoring.

However your campaigns are performing now, it’s important to focus your key performance indicators on shifting your campaigns toward the top left-hand “major success” quadrant of the chart.

As you run more campaigns, gather more data and apply more sophisticated social analytics on the performance of your campaigns, you can begin to correlate campaign specifics, which can include content types, timing, duration and target market. Over time, the analysis will illuminate the types of campaigns that are likely to produce the strongest results and highest social ROI for your business.

Underperforming campaigns fall into a variety of categories. The most common, visualized by the charts below, are typically referred to within the social intelligence industry as “flop,” “bad buzz” and “no spread.” A campaign that flops is one that fails to produce any significant or sustained increase in buzz. A bad buzz campaign is one that generates a boost in buzz–but most of it negative. Finally, a no spread campaign is one that produces a very brief and unsustainable, although significant, increase in buzz.


With these examples of underperforming campaigns in mind, let’s take a look at what a high-performing campaign might look like:


While this is just one example of a successful campaign, there are repeatable key points that can be applied to your campaign measurement methodology. Ideally, the start of a new campaign will quickly generate a sustained (and steep) upward slope in positive buzz volume (as seen above), which should peak somewhere in the range of four to 10 times your pre-campaign volume baseline.

How long it takes to reach this peak depends on a number of factors, including the mediums in which your campaign material is appearing, the frequency of content placement, virality and more. Once your campaign has reached its peak, there should then be a gradual downslope of sustained positive buzz. This drop-off will ideally level out to a post-campaign baseline that is markedly, if not greatly, higher than your pre-campaign baseline.

It’s important to chart the slope of every campaign, regardless of overall success, because over time, you will be able to aggregate this information and turn it into an actionable body of historical campaign data. This can then be called upon with each successive campaign to fuel predictive social insights that will help you optimize campaign attributes both pre and post-launch.

For instance, if you have found that high-volume mixed-media campaigns tend to produce faster and higher peaks, this may be a campaign type you wish to rely upon more greatly in the future.

Moreover, by mapping social analytics for each campaign, you will be able to compare it to previous ones and develop useful predictions based on the data coming in. If the data appears to suggest suboptimal performance vis-á-vis historical data, then corrective steps can be taken to boost results.

Adjusting campaign messaging, content, target markets and geographies, and budget are a few of the steps that brands take to optimize campaigns that seem to lag in the early stages.

Once such steps have been taken, it’s then important to gather data on the impact of those corrective measures on campaign performance. Did adjustments in messaging and content boost the campaign peak over what was originally projected? Did an injection of extra budget midway through the campaign help to extend a period of post-peak buzz? Gathering and analyzing these types of data will help you gain a deeper understanding of which corrective actions are promoting higher campaign performance, and which are not as effective.

Truly successful campaigns are built upon thorough social analysis of target markets, audiences and past campaigns. To effectively tie any campaign investment directly back to measurable business impact, you must define and agree on the right business objectives and metrics for your brand and use case; and track them before, during and after campaigns. Most important, remember to always define metrics that are valuable to the business.

For more on social listening and intelligence programs, check out Forrester’s latest research on the market.

Leah Pope is chief marketing officer of social insights provider Synthesio.