There are literally gigabytes of people fighting about the ROI of social media. The truth is, there are certainly outcomes that we should all be measuring to ensure that we are using social media in the most effective way possible.
I think of social media measurement as a continuum of measures. Consider using one or more of these in your measurement strategy.
Activity: This measure is all about what YOU do. Do track your activities and benchmark them against results but don’t stop there. Many agencies tend to focus their reports on activities they completed for a client, but they should not be considered results measurement.
Attention. This measure is all about reach or “opportunities to see.” They say that any publicity is good publicity, but as we all know in this 24/7 news-hungry world not ALL attention is good attention. The easiest thing to measure in social media is attention. You can see how many visits your page has, how many were unique and how many were repeat or new visitors. Attention looks at volume, number of friends and reach.
Awareness. This measure is all about engagement with you. It means that people are starting to become aware that you exist in social channels. It doesn’t mean they will take any action beyond this, or that there will be any appreciable business results. Awareness measures include Likes, mentions, share of voice, referrals and % of followers engaged.
Attitudes. This measure is all about conversation about you. You can measure online sentiment to get a crude idea of where you stand with the community over time, mostly positive, mostly negative and mostly neutral. However, sentiment doesn’t give a full view and can be significantly skewed if you use automated sentiment tools. You can look also at customer satisfaction surveys and cross tab with their involvement with social media sources, loyalty over time, and repeat visits to get an idea of attitudes. The gold standard is conducting a relationships survey.
Actions. This measure is all about what they actually do (rather than what they say the will do). You can look at measurement of results in several categories including financial measures (ROI, et), customer changes, processes impacted and innovation realized through outreach activities. See the chart below for some ideas.