In my column about BuzzFeed’s new social video metrics, I mentioned that you might also be interested in reading “How to Suck at Social Media: An Indispensable Guide for Businesses,” which was posted by leading industry expert Avinash Kaushik's blog. In this post I'll be taking a deeper dive into three of the four social media metrics that I said “might be” the ones that BuzzFeed is looking for, which are:

  • Conversation Rate, the ratio of comments per video to overall followers. Is what you are saying interesting enough to spark the most social of all things: a conversation?
  • Amplification Rate, the ratio of shares per video to overall followers. Is what you are saying so incredible and of value that viewers will forward it to everyone they know?
  • Applause Rate, the ratio of favorites per video to overall followers. Do viewers think the content you've posted is interesting, even if they won't comment on it or forward it on?

Do You Really Know the Impact of Social Video on Your Brand? social media success

Video Marketing and the Question of Metrics

Now, Kaushik is recognized as an authoritative voice on how marketers, executive teams and industry leaders can leverage data to fundamentally reinvent their digital existence. He’s the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, and has held key roles at Intuit, DirecTV, and DHL. He initially defined these four social media metrics in a blog post published back in October 2011. In other words, they’ve been hidden in plain sight for more than four years.

So, why haven’t they been adopted more widely? Well, about a month after his post was published, YouTube Analytics replaced YouTube Insight. Suddenly, video marketers could easily access more detailed information, even if most of us were still looking at which videos were driving the most views. Hey, why go looking for new metrics when most of our clients or executives in the C-suite were still asking, “How many views did we get?”

It was only after Facebook redefined a “view” to mean anytime a video is displayed in a user’s news feed for 3 seconds or more, even if the person doesn’t actually click on the video to watch with the sound turned on, that many of us started to question the value of this metric. By comparison, YouTube definition of a “view” can mean (1) when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video, (2) when a viewer watches all of your video if it’s shorter than 30 seconds, or (3) when a viewer engages with your video. Whichever comes first, YouTube calls that a “view.”

Meanwhile, a similar thing happened with another metric: “engagement.” From 2012 until February 2014, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) debated over the definition of “advertising engagement” and wrestled to identify the core metrics for ad engagement across digital and legacy platforms. The industry organization finally agreed to define “ad engagement” as: “A spectrum of consumer advertising activities and experiences — cognitive, emotional, and physical — that will have a positive impact on a Brand.” Hey, I’m not making this stuff up. That’s their definition.

But wait, there’s more! After wrestling to identify the core metrics, the IAB drew six key conclusions:

  1. Engagement is an extremely complex issue; there is no “one size fits all,” and no single approach.
  2. It is critical for core metrics of digital advertising engagement to be comparable to other media.
  3. The industry needs benchmarks of performance, creating yet another reason to seek consensus on core metrics and definitions.
  4. Engagement is driven as much or more by the creative execution as by the media platform.
  5. Digital advertising Engagement encompasses more than physical interaction.
  6. Social Media is more than a single form of Engagement.

So, is it any wonder that most video marketers didn’t rush to adopt the IAB’s fuzzy definition of “engagement” or its core metrics to highlight in their monthly reports? The whole process reminds me of the old adage: “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”

Social Video Engagement on Social Platforms

Which brings us back to Kaushik’s first three social media metrics. If you want examples of the strategic insights and tactical advice that you can glean from Conversation, Amplification, Applause rates, then take the time to read all 9,438 words in “How to Suck at Social Media: An Indispensable Guide for Businesses.” And, then set aside some extra time to read all 101 comments on his post. If you don’t care how B2C and B2B brands can use these social media metrics on Google+ and Pinterest, then simply skip these sections of his comprehensive post on Occam’s Razor and just read the sections on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. But, whatever you do, don’t skip the section on the MoR Test. According to Kaushik, “It stands for: Money off Roof test. It is a simple test: Would we create more Social Media activity if we took all the money we are currently investing in Social Media and threw it all off the roof of our office building?

Hey, if you don’t ask this question, you can be damn sure that one of the CXOs within your company or at your client will ask it. Which brings me to that fourth social media metric, Economic Value.

There’s absolutely no sense to learn how to calculate your Conversation, Amplification, and Applause rates if these metrics don’t help you to improve the economic impact of video marketing on your business. Well, here’s how you can connect the dots. It turns out that a small passionate team was inspired by Kaushik’s post back in October 2011 – and went on to create a one-page app in March 2012 that’s called TrueSocialMetrics. It lets you analyze your Conversation, Amplification, and Applause rates across a dozen social networks, including: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, and Vine. And you don’t need any login credentials to your competitors’ social media pages in order to compare your results with theirs, analyze their social media campaigns, and learn lessons from their best practices. Even more importantly, you can connect your Google Analytics account to TrueSocialMetrics in order to compare the performance and economic value for all your social media accounts and find the most effective social networks for your business.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Check out some of the case studies on the website. My favorite is the one that looked at the social media sites for the top five American airlines and found that YouTube generated more engagement than Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Do You Really Know the Impact of Social Video on Your Brand? infographic 750x345

To summarize, there is a way to measure the real active engagement of users with your videos and to leverage that critical data to improve the economic impact of all of not only your video marketing, but also your social media marketing on your business. Ironically, it’s been hidden in plain sight for about four years. But, last week’s column on BuzzFeed’s new metrics enabled me to uncover it – again – for the first time.