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Measuring the success of content: 6 tips for getting started

Let’s say you're a brand looking to grow your online awareness. You've decided social is where to put your money: you've assembled a content calendar, produced and scheduled posts across the appropriate channels, and hit 'publish'. Back to step one, right?

Not so fast. With tight budgets and limited time frames, measuring the success of your content has never been more important. Marketers need to understand how many people are seeing their content, what kind of collateral consumers best respond to and how they are discovering it in the first place so they can adapt and improve their efforts. As a result, measurement is a vital final step in the production process.

Fortunately, online platforms provide a plethora of analytics to help inform this. Data-driven marketing is a big buzz term in media today, and for good reason: never before have marketers had such rich sources of insight at their fingertips.

Here's some guidelines:

Define what success means to your brand

Content marketing doesn't exist in a vacuum. The metrics you choose to measure your performance should always align with wider business objectives.

Translate these objectives into metrics and cluster them by social channel. These can be as broad or nuanced as you like: measuring an increase in brand awareness, for example, can be as simple as noting month-on-month differences in reach or impressions on social platforms. More complex goals around promoting specific facets of your destination - such as a city or messaging - can be addressed via tagging content in the publishing module of platforms and collating these stats.

If engagement and advocacy are key to your marketing plan (and they certainly should be for destinations hoping to convert wannabe travellers into passionate paid-up visitors), social shares, follows and subscriptions will reveal the most effective activity.

Successful content answers brand objectives, reaches an appropriate audience and initiates a long-term relationship with a consumer.

Measurement graphic

Choose metrics that best illuminate the performance of your specific activity

Is video content a key part of your social strategy? Integrating video analytics into your measurement framework will help optimise future content.

Analysing audience retention (e.g. Facebook's 'Avg % of videos viewed') - the proportion of your videos viewed by people - can highlight the moment viewers tune out, providing clues on how to structure a narrative and the optimal length of content. On Facebook's Business Manager, the number of video views to 95% is a better indication of a video's effectiveness than total video views.

Equivalent metrics are available on YouTube under 'Absolute Audience Retention', while 'Relation Audience Retention' benchmarks the performance of your videos against content of similar length.

Make reach and engagement central to your measurement programme

Reach and engagement are the fundamentals of social media measurement. The former reveals how your content has contributed to greater brand awareness, with engagement measuring advocacy and loyalty via the number of interactions content has received.

On Facebook, 'Lifetime Post Total Reach' (or organic/paid if you want a more nuanced breakdown) will tell you the total number of individuals exposed to content. 'Lifetime Post Total Impressions', on the other hand, indicates the number of times your content has been displayed. This is also the primary method used to measure awareness on Twitter.

Engagement shouldn't be dismissed. After all, you don't just want consumers to see content around a destination, you want them to like it too and tell their friends. The metric can be roughly divided between public and private interactions. These include:

Public interactions

  • Reactions, comments & shares (Facebook)
  • Retweets, replies & Likes, Hashtag uses (Twitter)
  • Likes, Dislikes & comments (YouTube)
  • Likes & comments (Instagram)
  • Reblogs (Tumblr)
  • Repins & Likes (Pinterest)

Account subscriptions and follows can also be included in this category.

Private interactions

They don't have quite the same obvious impact as a share, but clicks - whether offsite to a link or to expand views of content - are also a valuable sign that consumers want to learn more about your destination. This kind of engagement encompasses metrics like:

  • Clicks to play, link clicks, other clicks & photo views (Facebook: accessed via the 'Lifetime Post Consumptions by type' tab on the post level data export)
  • Engagements (Twitter) - both public and private forms of engagement are combined here

Check that the right people are seeing your content.

Growth in reach and engagement loses its impact if audiences exposed to your content are off-target. The major social media platforms offer basic audience segmentation metrics, revealing the gender, age and regional makeup of new followers.

For DMOs, the distribution of reach by country will be particularly important for Facebook marketing. This data can be compared against the equivalent community growth metric to see which audiences are being converted into brand advocates.

Benchmark against past performance, as well as other tourism organisations for insights on best practice

Creating benchmarks lends context to performance and gives your content a standard to aim for each month. By collecting stats in a master document, you can cross-reference these to compare performance with the equivalent period last year (useful given the seasonal nature of the industry) or with a previous campaign.

For regular reporting, examining a 6-month or year's worth of results, and identifying a monthly average figure across the various metrics can pinpoint what this standard should be.

Similarly, tracking how other organisations are faring provides insight into the activity that generates engagement and awareness. Take note, however: many social analytics metrics are available only to account admins, so there's a limit on the kinds of insights that can be drawn. Benchmarking against public engagement measures like Reactions, Likes and retweets, community growth and post counts (split out also by content format) is a good solution.

Draw up a measurement framework

Measurement frameworks sort metrics into different easy to understand 'buckets'. These are often aligned to the overall marketing funnel, helping elucidate the impact of online content to non-digital professionals in your organisation. Methodologies differ, but the following is a simple model that you can replicate for your own activity.

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