When it comes to social media measurement, one of the hardest things for most organizations to determine is where to put their limited resources and focus. All measurable objectives for online media should be consolidated to a dashboard that is frequently updated and can show where online efforts stand at a glance. You can use free ones like the new Glert’s, currently in Beta, which puts free Google Alerts into a dashboard; or you can use paid services like the Do It Yourself Dashboard by KD Paine and Partners.
It can also be as simple as a PowerPoint document or Spreadsheet with numbers and goals updated on a monthly basis. Entering these numbers into an Excel spreadsheet allows an organization to analyze the numbers for a period of time and to add other data, such as sales numbers.
I like to break down the types of measurement into three buckets in order to more clearly see the impact on the organization.
The Three As’s of Social Media Measurement
- Attention: The overall volume of interest, these include fans, traffic and other analytics
- Attitude: Overall sentiment and relationship measures
- Action: Business results of online outreach
These categories correspond to the more traditional measures of communication: Outcomes, Outtakes and Outputs. As you can see in this paper by Dr. Walter K. Lindenmann Guidelines for Measuring the Effectiveness of PR Programs and Activities.
In today’s post, I am going to start with the measurement of action and will circle back to Attention and Attitude next week.
Probably the most important and least measured part of a social media campaign is the action people take as a result. This is where campaigns can be tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) or other organizational goals for action. Return on investment can also be measured in terms of actions.
Business measures can include things such as registrations for conferences, sales leads, hiring, store traffic and reduction in customer-service costs. For nonprofits, business goals include donations, votes (for politicians), new volunteers, return volunteers, volume of donations and the median amount of money per donation.
One useful example is a research study conducted by Altimeter and WetPaint called EngagementdB, which sought to connect key business results to social media engagement. The study looked at the engagement in social media by 100 top brands as measured by BusinessWeek / Interbrand “Best Global Brands 2008” rankings and correlated that engagement with one of the biggest KPIs for many organizations ¾ revenue and profit.
The study found brands that were highly engaged in a number of social media and networking channels showed stronger revenue and profit than those that were not. Moreover, it found that those that were not active in social networking performed worse in all categories than those that were. The correlation is striking, because it indicates the need for an open mindset of listening and responding to the needs of customers, donors or other stakeholders for a company or organization to be successful.
In his very popular “Basics of Social Media ROI” presentation, Olivier Blanchard of BrandBuilder Marketing outlines a process to tie social media activities to revenue and cost savings that includes looking at sales data overlaid with social media activities and campaigns. He recommends looking at F.R.Y., which is frequency, or number of transactions per month; reach, or number of new customers; and yield, or total transactions.
For example, in a timeline, overlay basic sales data with social media activities, the results of your monitoring and any market research, then look at the data for areas where they seem to rise in concert (commonly known as deltas in the measurement world). This kind of measurement is best done for a significant period of time to give the best results, and it can demonstrate which social media activities and campaigns seem to be having the best effect.
If an organization noticed that more lively chatter on its Facebook page usually means better attendance at weekend events, it might consider timing communication or promotions for maximum effectiveness. Determine what’s most important to the business, and start measuring that right away. More variables can always be added, and it’s better to start small than not to start at all.
But what about organizations that don’t have sales, you might ask? A nonprofit is a good example. For a nonprofit you might want to look at how often current supporters are giving, and compare online and offline donors to see how their rates compare. You could then compare this to any campaigns you were running to see if there was an uptick in giving during those times compared to other times. What other measures can you think of?
You can check out more about measuring social media, including some case studies, in my presentation, Prove It! Tools and Techniques for Measuring Social Media.
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?
The above is draft material for a chapter on measurement that Geoff Livingstonkindly 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.