in Digital & Social

Measuring up to Expectations

As alluded to in my earlier post on Social Media Week, one of the hot-button topics that ensconced a number of presentations and discussions throughout the week was measurement and metrics. It seems that there is a fair bit of uncertainty, and correspondingly a lot of debate, on how to correlate social media activities with bottom line business results – and provide informed, proper analysis to senior management.

It’s no secret that there is a lot of gray area when it comes to measurement. Historically, for traditional marketing, marketers have focused on metrics such as brand awareness, brand perception and brand loyalty. While important, the accuracy and value of some of these metrics may not be as high as some perceive – particularly in the digital age, when start-ups can rise from relative obscurity rather quickly.

Engaged consumers now, more than ever, hold the true key to brand success. A company can benefit by building genuine relationships, leveraging social media, with key, well-connected consumers – brand advocates. As a result, traditional measures are evolving, and a variety of new tools and metrics – measuring, amongst other things, influence and sentiment – have been introduced.

Digital and social media are very measurable, perhaps more so than traditional media. But how meaningful are the measures for senior business managers who might still be entrenched in old paradigms? What can marketing and communications professionals do to effectively communicate the results of social media activities?

Here are a few key points that come to mind:

  1. Educate. As the social media champion in an organization, be proactive and take the initiative to educate peers on emerging measurement methodologies and metrics – particularly with regards to influence and sentiment.
  2. Set specific and realistic targets for social media activities. Where possible, quantify and correlate them to key business objectives. Emphasize the importance of the results (again, educate!).
  3. Speak the language of business. Over the last year or so, some social media pundits have re-defined ROI as “Return on Influence”. While influence is important to evaluate, remember that business parlance for ROI is “Return on Investment”.

Having some sort of gauge for success is critical, enabling refinement of efforts based on key learning. Equally as critical, it’s important for company peers and cohorts to learn and understand the business value of social media activities.

  • David Hall

    Great post Eric. Social Media Week was great….I’ll be blogging about it soon!

    I completely agree with points 1-3, but I would also suggest that social media champions/community managers need to keep an eye out for those emotional stories that help tell the explain the full value of social media beyond just the numbers. Having just one or two in your back pocket can help you tell the same story to different executives.

    Also, a system that tracks “social media” customers through the sales funnel would be ideal. Do you know of one, oor is it a matter of really understanding your CRM tool?

    story beyond the numbers. I feel they both play a role in defining ROI

  • Eric Buchegger

    Hi David,

    I agree with your point about social media champions needing to watch for emotional stories that truly convey the value of social media. I like the example you provided when we spoke, about the student who tweeted about her preference for Algonquin College.

    Regarding a system that tracks social media through the sales funnel, I heard that Sysomos might working on something – they hinted at a new product, related to ROI measurement, during a SMWTO presentation.

    Looking forward to reading your post about Social Media Week!

  • Tim Marklein

    Good post, Eric. The distinction between “output” and “outcome” measures are very important, and often get confused or overlooked within PR and social media circles. The good news is that many top research and measurement professionals have been tackling these issues (including influence and sentiment) for many years via IPR, AMEC, CPRF, IABC, WAA, IAB, ARF and others. (Sorry for the alphabet soup!)

    Here’s some perspective that the Council of PR Firms’ Measurement Committee just published on ROI, echoing the valuable point you made above:

  • eric

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment – much appreciated! I am going to check out the link you provided.