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
Seriously, 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.
|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
VIP Explorers Club
- How to Rise Above the Noise with Your Content Marketing
- Interview: Building a Customer Centric Brand with the CMO of Belkin
- 9 SEO Optimizations You Can’t Afford to Ignore
- 3 Billion Social Shares Analyzed: Lessons From the Internet’s Most Viral Content
- Twitter Loosens Its Character Count Restrictions