Are Social Media Metrics Hurting Your Company?
Metrics play an important role in modern organizations because they provide an efficient way to determine process effectiveness.
Metrics function as heuristics, or “rules of thumb”, for managers outside of a function to gain insight into other functions without having to absorb specific detail.
While we all have an understanding of ROI, a manager can justify a lack of Social Media understanding by simply insisting that measurements are the most critical part of the initiative and that Social Media should be measured like any other business process.
This is why in preliminary discussions about Social Media, managers typically ask, “How are we going to measure it?” This is an important question that should not be overlooked. However, does anyone fully understand Social Media? When people say “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, I often think “I can’t measure what I can’t define.”
The ROI of Social Media is Unclear; the Impact of Social Media is Very Clear
Social Media Impact – Word of Mouth Marketing
I can’t tell you all the ways that Social Media will impact your business strategy. I believe that anyone that says they can tell you is likely a consultant or technology vendor trying to tell you something.
What I can tell you is that your customers are telling your prospective customers what they think about your product. Marketers have known the power of Word of Mouth for years, but what’s different now is that it is REALLY EASY for prospective customers to find word of mouth recommendations.
So how do you measure this??? You can ask questions in follow-up surveys, but we all know that word-of-mouth is often “hidden” in these types of questionairres.
Social Media Impact – Innovation and New Product Development
Also, I can tell you that your competitors are listening to what consumers are saying about their problems, needs, and frustrations; these consumer needs are the primary stimuli for innovation. People every day are commenting on blogs, posting their frustrations on Twitter, and offering solutions through platforms that encourage open innovation.
It’s hard to tie metrics, like new product sales, to these insights. But if you’re not listening to your customers and sharing that feedback with your organization, I can tell you that your stock price will under-perform those competitors that are.
How do you measure this? By the time an idea makes it into a marketplace, so many functions have made changes through countless iterations of the product development lifecycle. Additionally, many companies can take 12-18 months to bring a product from concept to reality making it hard to directly correlate to a Social Media Insight.
Relative Benchmarking for Social Media Metrics
If you’re struggling with metrics, try starting with ones that you can directly compare to other initiatives. Here are a couple ideas:
- Alexa’s Traffic Rank Metric – Transparent and publicly available, this metric is based on a combined measurement of reach and pageviews which makes it objective and easy to explain to leadership. Also, you can put a plugin in the bottom of Firefox that gives you INSTANT feedback as to how you are doing.
- Twitter Followers – I understand that there are ways to cheat this metric, but it’s rapidly becoming the currency of influence in the Social Media space. Showing your leadership that your brand has more followers than your competitors can be a wonderful “win” for your group.
Metrics are Important, but different for Social Media
This is a sticky issue; I don’t want to downplay the importance of metrics. The point here is that measuring Social Media in the same way you measure long-standing business processes will delay action. Social Media is too new and not fuly understood enough to determine the “right set of metrics”, but you
What did I leave out or forget to include?
Posted by Ben Foster