The social media strategy series: Metrics and Measurement

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[tweetmeme] The next post in our social media strategy series looks at the all important ‘metrics and measurement’. The ROI bit. Ahead of this we’ve:

Once you’ve developed your social media activity (the tactics), all of which were driven by your goals and objectives, you need to set your metrics. These will help you to understand if those objectives are being met. Now this isn’t an exact science as much of this activity relies on word of mouth, which has always been hard to pin down. Digital activity has made it a little easier to get a handle on metrics and understand how the tactics are working.

So, start by listing your objectives identified earlier on in the strategy. For each one, think about what  success would look like. What would happen if things went to plan and you achieved what you set out to?  Would your blog subscribers/fans/followers increase? Would your sales increase? Would your website traffic increase? Would you get approached by journalists to contribute to more articles? The key here is to measure what is directly connected to what you’re trying to achieve. Simply looking at followers or fans doesn’t cut it for all objectives, so pick what works for each.

As I mentioned this example in an earlier post, I’ll use it again. If your objective is to raise brand awareness then things like number of fans, followers, subscribers, engagement, mentions, content shared can give you an accurate indication of how much your brand awareness is growing over a period of time. However, if your objective is to generate business leads or grow sales, these metrics mean diddly squat. Instead you’ll need to track traffic from your social media activities to your website and measure conversions, track where email or phone enquiries are generated from, record how many opportunities you identified through social media are  converted? What we want to know here is how much fee income has been generated by social media activity, so think about how you can measure that.

It’s worth spending some time matching the right metrics to the right objective. Think about the paths your customers or clients take to get to the end goal, this could throw up some useful metrics for you to measure along that path. A few examples are listed below, note not all of them are digital. Don’t overlook the offline stuff, this is just as important.

  • Twitter followers, RTs, mentions, lists
  • Facebook fans, likes, comments, shared content
  • Linked In connections, responses to questions, comments within group discussions, recommendations etc
  • You Tube/Flickr etc views, comments, shared content
  • Blog visits, subscriptions, comments, shared content
  • Mentions, sentiment (and changes in sentiment)
  • Emailer, newsletter sign ups
  • Links clicked (for example to an offer on your website that’s linked from your blog, social networking site, email signatures etc)
  • Website traffic, particularly to specific actions (email sign up, offers and discounts, distinct landing pages etc)
  • Search traffic, both organic and paid
  • Website or blog page rank, inbound links etc
  • Approaches to guest blog or write articles in the trade press
  • Approaches to speak at events
  • Increase in sales (either track where these came from if they’re converted through your ecommerce site or record manually where your sales were generated from. I have a spreadsheet that shows where each prospect and converted client was generated from. But you’re doing this already right?)
  • Track relationships. What’s happening to those people you’re connecting with on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, the blog etc. Are you moving them to your CRM system? Are you tracking how often you’re connecting with them? Are you keeping an eye on how those relationships progress?
  • Increase in footfall to your shop, restaurant, bar. Do you know how many people visit? Where did they come from? If you run specific campaigns with promotion codes this can give you some great data.
  • And while on the subject of location based businesses, are you tracking Foursquare, Gowalla and other location based apps? Check ins, tips, how many people are making the most of your offers through these apps (if you’re running them of course) are all useful metrics.

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t an exact science. People can take a variety of routes to get to the end goal, but this will give you a good indication of how things are working for you. Once you’ve set the metrics for each objective, pop them on a simple spreadsheet and record where you are now so you have a benchmark. I track these monthly to allow me to understand how things are working, but you can do it more often if your tactics are time critical.

Once you’ve collected some decent data over a few months, you can start to spot patterns and make assumptions about cause and effect. This can help you to improve and refine your activities and help you get what you need out of them. It also means you can spot those activities that aren’t producing the results you need and stop them in favour of putting more effort into the stuff that is working.

Measurement is a tricky area and there’s no one size fits all approach. It’s an ongoing process that needs to be reviewed and refined over time. It needs to work both for you and who you’ll be reporting these all important numbers to. I hope this post sheds some light on how it can be done and helps you to develop your own approach.

The final posts in this series will cover:

  • The content strategy
  • Defining resources
  • Guidelines and training
  • Ongoing management and beyond

If you have anything to add to this, or if you have any examples of how you measure your social media activities, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

** Update: This social media strategy series has since been pulled together and published. Download the social media strategy ebook here.


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