As was laid out so well in the first thesis of the “Cluetrain Manifesto,” the classic book which was at the forefront of the social media movement, “Markets are conversations.” People increasingly demand that companies and nonprofits wake up from their slumber and start to connect with them. Or as the authors said, “You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.”
Of course, organizations must make money to survive, and that is where a common sense social media measurement program can help to determine where to focus money, time and effort in such a way that also keeps in mind that markets want organizations to engage. At its most basic, a measurement program is a diagnostic tool. Far from looking to squeeze out the last drop of profit from every customer met in a social networking context, it should instead be used to determine if your social media strategy is working, if it needs adjustment and exactly where it should be adjusted. It also should take into account the softer measures that social media can bring to the table, like improved client or stakeholder relationships, organizational reputation and competitive advantage.
Moreover, measurement of social media, as with all communication efforts, helps to quantify its value to the organization. In a blog post about the report, Social Marketing Analytics, A New Framework for Measuring Results in Social Media, Jeremiah Owyang, industry analyst with the Altimeter Group, explains the importance of a measurement strategy:
“While experiments can fly under the radar for a short term, without having a measurement strategy, you run the risk of not improving what you’re doing, justifying investments, and the appearance of being aloof to upper management. To be successful, all programs (even new media) must have a measurement strategy,” said Owyang.
Indeed, a well thought-out measurement strategy can justify the loftier goal of engagement and relationship-building activities that the use of social media is so good at brokering. If you can demonstrate loyalty, increased sales, decreased marketing costs, reduced customer service calls, improved reputation and a number of other measures, you will go a long way toward convincing those bean counters in your organization that digital marketing and social networking is worthwhile.
Moreover, by setting up a measurement program that looks at the value of all communications in an objective manner helps make the many decisions easier and often serves to elevate the internal influence of the team. Katie Paine said it best in her first book Measuring Public Relationships:
“Not only are you never punished for being accountable, in fact, most people who institute measurement programs find that they get more promotions, bigger raises and increased budgets because of their ability to demonstrate success,” said Paine.
(As an aside: Her new book. Measuring What Matters is coming out next year, and I would recommend that you read it if)
While on the surface it seems hard to prove the value of what amounts to conversation, it can be done, but it all starts with setting up your measurement dashboard. On this dashboard you will be able to see at glance how your various measurement approaches are shaping up. You will need to decide what to measure and what really matters in your company.
Ask the following questions:
- the measurement program attainable within a reasonable set of guidelines?
- What are the return on investment and key performance indicators in your organization?
You can then take the answers to these questions and work on what to measure. That will be the next post in this measurement series. Until then, what do YOU measure in your organization and how can it be tied to your online efforts with social media and technology?
The above is draft material for a chapter on measurement that Geoff Livingston kindly asked me to write in his new book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate (the follow up to Now Is Gone, which is almost out of print). Comments may be used in the final edition. You can download the first drafted chapter of his new edition — Welcome to the Fifth Estate — for free.
Here are all the posts from the Commonsense Social Media Measurement series:
- Part I: A Commonsense Approach to Social Media Measurement
- Part 2: Setting SMART Objectives
- Part 3: Measurement as a Diagnostic Tool
- Part 4: The 3 As of Social Media Measurement
- Part 5: What Is Your Measurement Personality Style?