It’s Time for a Social Media Measurement Intervention

by · November 5, 20137 comments

Tweets, retweets, mentions, likes, comments, shares, Klout, Kred, PTAT…Seriously?!? When did marketers decide that we need to speak in tongues to justify our efforts? Let’s get started on the right foot here. The first step is to stop trying to spin social media measurement by hypnotizing people with your crazy “social” metrics speak. For this to work, you’ll also have to stop fooling yourself into thinking that these metrics are cool, too.

It’s time for a social media measurement intervention because it’s gotten a little out of hand and people are starting to get concerned about you, Social Media. People are saying that you’ll never produce a return for our company, that you are all about partying and hanging out with your friends instead of helping our business grow, and even worse…there are memes about you going around.


Stop Measuring BS and Start Measuring Business Impact

Sales Funnel CakeSeriously, I don’t care what kind of company you work for, the critical piece that matters is how social media impacts any of these three things: sales volume, revenue and costs. If you disagree with me, hit me up at the next conference and let’s have a drink.

You can have all the audience growth, engagement and virality you want. Call me when you can show me that a prospect touched our social channels before they converted, or when you decrease customer service expense and increase satisfaction by serving customers in social channels (hint…hint…happy customers spend more!), or when your Facebook offer generates $100k in revenue in a week. We can all gather around a fire and sing the social media Kumbaya all we want, but it isn’t going to satisfy the needs of the people who approve social media budgets unless we get real.

We need to cut the BS and start tying social media to an impact on revenue or cost savings.

Use Metrics with History and Benchmarks

Here’s the bottom-line: It’s ALL about the bottom-line.

While we’ve all been out drinking the Kool-Aid and speaking in tongues, we apparently forgot to take a look at what metrics already matter to the organization. Measurement isn’t new in business and it certainly isn’t new for online marketing, so we can quickly cut through the BS by starting to look for metrics that share commonalities with social metrics. Look for how success is measured in other marketing channels like public relations, online advertising/marketing, SEO, TV, radio, print and email. It doesn’t matter what marketing channels you use, there are very likely amazing similarities in measurement with social. Then start to look for other departments in your company that you feel social media supports and check out what metrics they report to management. Departments like customer service, sales and product development could be a good place to start.

In just a moment I will share some of my favorite metrics and the social metrics they align nicely with. To be clear, I recognize which social metrics will be used, however I would present them using the language from the marketing channel they are being compared to, provided of course, that it is a metric that management is familiar with. Sometimes we get lucky and they are called the same thing.

Once you have your list of metrics, now it’s time to go back to the first section of this article. Don’t take the metrics at face value and assume that management has a deep understanding of their metrics either. Instead use them as a benchmark. They are simply a starting point, but now you need to pull out your inner Jedi for the next part.

Conduct a Cost Analysis

Admittedly, tying to revenue sounds awesome and I’m sure if it were super easy we’d all be doing it. I get it. We have major challenges with attaching to revenue. Everything from broken attribution models to fragmented data systems get in our way. While getting to revenue isn’t nearly as hard as most companies think, I’ll give you a reprieve and tell you what you can measure right now…COST!

We know how much our companies are investing in social media based upon the budget that is allocated; therefore we should be able to effectively measure the cost of social media in order to do some nice cost analysis.

Now that you have your list of key metrics, simply take each one and add “cost per” in front of the metric. Here are some of my personal favorites.

Metric Aligns with…
Cost per site visit SEO
Cost per inbound link SEO
Cost per impression Online Advertising
Cost per click Online Advertising
Cost per lead Online Advertising
Cost per email subscriber Email Marketing
Cost per resolution Customer Service
Cost per engagement This is more for social, but should be used in other channels too

 

Here’s an important piece to consider for social media. “Do you count employee salaries as part of the cost equation?” It depends. Do employee salaries get counted in any of the metrics you gathered in section 2? If so, then yes you should count employee salaries. If not, then no, I would argue adding employee salaries will create a distorted analysis that isn’t true apples to apples. We always want apples to apples when it comes to measurement.

Compare across Channels

Once you’ve done your cost analysis, compare how social compares to the performance of the marketing channel or department where you originally got the metric from. This is where the magic of social measurement starts to happen. You can start to see where social is really supporting another channel or where social is really underperforming.  You’ll know whether social media is helping to save money in a specific area or not.

At the end of the day, social media measurement isn’t all that hard. We just need to start using the metrics that matter to the bottom-line and get a few of our data “ducks” in a row. Data integration is a great topic for my next post, but if you want the nitty gritty check out the webinar with ExactTarget below or if you’ll be at Dreamforce I hope you’ll attend my session there.

How are you measuring social media? Do you measure down to sales volume, revenue and/or cost? Or are you really struggling with measurement? Either way, please leave a comment and join the conversation. 

Want to hear Nichole break down measurement and tell you exactly how to get the data you need? Sign up for the Social Media Domination Webinar from our friends at ExactTarget.

Measuring and Assessing Social Media ROI with Nichole Kelly

Date: November 20th

Time: 2:00 pm ET

Where: Online

Register Now

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About Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://soulati.com/blog Soulati

    This is by far one of the best posts I’ve read on this topic in a long while. Segues nicely into my post for today; pingback coming. Love your verve, Nichole.

    • Nichole_Kelly

      Awesome! I look forward to seeing your post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: Big Data Analysis Invades Amazon TV | soulati.com

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    “sales volume, revenue and costs” – we’re a public library. Revenue? Sure … through local taxes. Costs? Sure – we have an annual budget. Sales volume? What’s that? We measure other non-money-focused things.

    I’d love to see another article from you talking about the non-profit and government sector, who … sure … have a bottom line, have goals and objectives. But those goals, objectives, and outcomes aren’t focused on making money, on sales leads, etc.

  • http://www.viptwitter.com/ viptwitter

    Great tips to maximize profit through social media. It’s a great way to get the community involve and start building relationships with potential donors and volunteers.

  • http://blog.wishpond.com/ Adella @ Wishpond

    Hi Nichole! Nicely done here! We are using Google Analytics to measure the right numbers, especially reach, engagement, acquisition, pay-per-click and more. This, in turn, helps us understand which content is actually driving new sales and where we need to invest more than other channels.

  • Rod Kelly

    I couldn’t agree more. Every company I chat with about social and measuring performance pause at how to answer that question and it really needs to be addressed. Great article!