5 Reasons to Track How Content Spreads in Social Media

So, you’re the brand behind a sensational viral marketing campaign, and you want to understand all of the nooks that your brilliant work reached. Of course you do!

(And we helped Irn-Bru do exactly that)

But why track content otherwise?

…if you think you already know your audience

So you did your homework. In fact, you designed the content strategy and seeded it from scratch. But what if your link caught on with an audience you never expected? Unless you track the dissemination, you won’t know about the people you didn’t know about when you started. You may not ever choose to spend money marketing to them, but making sure you’re not alienating them and maximizing their advocacy needn’t cost much—except incremental sales if you don’t take action. And if you do decide they’re worth pursuing as a new target population, then you definitely need to know more.

It probably goes without saying that you can of course also track which influencers and channels that you seeded were the most effective, so that your careful execution is even more efficient next time round.



How influencers shared an Irn Bru advert

…if your campaign didn’t get the traction you expected

What happened? By taking a step back and understanding the networks of people and movement of information, you can understand not only the flow—but also the blockages. Which bloggers delivered more than their fair share of dissemination and advocacy, and which should you not engage with again? Does the map of where you spent money align with where the successes were seen? Inspecting the ‘nodes’ (people, platforms, and channels) at a more granular level can help you fine-tune your model rather than indiscriminately chalking it all up to failure (which will almost certainly ensure you don’t learn from the mistakes!)

…if you want to understand ROI

By knowing who’s shared or come into contact with your content, you can also understand who has not been exposed. Measure purchase intent (or any other historical tracking metrics you might have) in these contrasting populations, and compare the differences.

FACE is currently pioneering a number of exciting methodologies that mix Social, Qual, and Quant approaches to get at these client needs.

…if you work in a highly regulated industry and aren’t permitted to market to consumers

Marketing is just information – and information is power. Or so they say, right? Understanding the knowledge and information that people hold is essential to industries like pharma and banking. Rather than asking about marketing content, instead consider, “How does information and misinformation spread?”, or “can I add value for consumers by sharing helpful guidelines, regulatory information, or other informative content?”

Content tracking isn’t limited to marketing content: I’ve tracked flu outbreak information with the CDC and WHO that has informed everything from where (and on what topics) individuals need more disease information, to whether emergency supply needs could be predicted based on knowledge of the early reach of information.

…even if you believe your target consumer isn’t the blogging type

If you honestly believe your target population isn’t contributing online – I might not agree, but on this occasion I’ll turn a blind eye – what about consuming content? Sure, not everyone is a ‘writes 3 blogs a night’ type person. But the modern affinity to referring to review sites is difficult to deny. When was the last time you booked a holiday without looking to Trip Advisor or bought electronics without reading some online reviews?

You’ve probably mapped out consumer segmentations and a consumer decision journey for your brand. What about accounting for the role that the online world now plays? Track content to understand how people at different consumer decision journey (CDJ) stages are consuming your content. How could you tailor your content to different segmentations or different purchase stages? How could you use content to understand and address the questions that consumers have pre-purchase, or to get post-purchase advocates to connect with those still deciding?


Don’t forget that probably 90% of our word of mouth, sharing, and influencing with others occurs offline. All the more reason you should maximize what you can control – and measure – online with social media content tracking.


Interested in discussing how content tracking could work for you? Just drop me an email at Erika.Ammerman@Facegroup.com, or say hello on LinkedIn.

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