Social Media Measurement: What You Are Doing Wrong

by Nichole Kelly |
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Are you measuring social media in isolation from your other marketing activities? Are you overwhelmed trying to understand how social media metrics compare to other marketing metrics? Do you want to have a holistic dashboard for all of your online activities? Today we will focus on how to leverage standard metrics from other digital marketing channels so you can finally have baseline metrics that mean something.

When I talk to companies about how they are measuring social media I get a variety of responses. Some aren’t measuring at all and have decided that it can’t be measured while others are trying to understand all of the new social analytics and determine how much a retweet or a Facebook fan is really worth to the company. Many times I will ask questions about what other types of online marketing the company is focused on and I get the standard list: Pay per Click Advertising, Banner Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Link Building, and Affiliate Advertising.

Social Media Silo

Naturally, the follow up is “how do you measure those channels?” In most cases I will receive a list of metrics that the company has been using to gauge the performance of their other digital marketing activities that is fairly robust and straight forward. When I ask how these channels are performing I get deep explanations and insights that show they clearly understand these metrics and what they mean to the organization.

Stop Measuring Social Media in a Silo

I think the hype of social media has gone to our heads. We think we need “fancy…schmancy” metrics that are different from everything else because social is “special.” There are all these different factors we need to take into account to tell whether or not it is working and using standard metrics won’t tell us that story, right? Sorry folks, but WRONG!  You have to stop measuring social media in a silo like it is some prince on a chariot. The only way you are going to be able to really tell whether or not your social strategies are delivering value to the organization is to use a set of metrics that doesn’t require your executives to have a PhD in cool. Here is a list of standard metrics that you can use across all of your digital marketing initiatives so you can finally have apples to apples comparisons.

Leverage Online Advertising Metrics

Cost per Impression & Cost per Thousand (CPM)

One of my least favorite metrics, but one that is still very commonly used is the cost per impression and cost per thousand commonly referred to as CPM. If your company uses this as a standard measure it can also be calculated with social media. These metrics are available in almost every social media channel; you can use TweetReach for Twitter since it doesn’t have it available.

Cost per Click

This standard measure in online advertising applies directly to social media too. Use the stats you can get out of any URL shortener dashboard and determine what your cost per click was in social media. Then compare it to your Pay per Click and Banner Advertising costs.

Cost per Lead

Across all these channels you can also use the standard cost per lead metrics. First, determine how leads are measured in other areas as this is different in every organization. The most common type of lead I’ve seen is the result of a lead form. Whatever the standard is in your company, use the same standard for social media.

Cost Per Site Visit

You can also compare the cost per site visitor and the cost per site visit across channels. Because you aren’t always sending traffic directly to your site in social media you don’t want to solely rely on cost-per-click as an indicator of performance.

Leverage Search Engine Optimization Metrics

Ranking Reports

Show social media content such as blogs, white papers, articles and e-books as a separate line item in your ranking reports. If the content that is ranking is a piece of social media content then include it in that section.

Cost per Inbound Link

One of the key strategies for SEO is to generate inbound links. Start measuring the cost per inbound link from standard SEO and from social media.

By measuring social media with metrics that are commonly understood you can decrease your time to understanding with non-social media folks and be able to utilize existing baselines to determine your performance. While you can use these baselines, I also recommend that you keep an open mind. Social media may not perform as well in all of these measures as some traditional channels in the beginning. However, once you start measuring them you can work towards optimizing your strategies to deliver numbers that are more in line with what you want. And if after a reasonable amount of time social still isn’t delivering within an acceptable range, then you may want to reconsider other parts of your marketing mix that are having an impact on the ability for it to deliver. This may not be a result of social media, but could be the follow up process or the pages on your site you are selecting to send people.

What do you think? What are some other standard marketing metrics you would leverage to measure social? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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About the Author

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