Today, I spent lunchtime listening to a very informative webinar hosted by the folks at Marketing Profs. I signed up because I was intrigued by the title: How to Be a Social Media Strategist, Not the Social Help Desk. It was 90-minutes well spent. Jeremiah Owyang was the guest presenter, and I learned quite a lot from his session, as I always do.
Frankly, there was enough great information in today’s session to keep me busy blogging for several days, and what really caught my attention was when Jeremiah talked about a framework for social media measurement. I have often said that you can get started with tracking by setting specific and measureable objectives – upfront – as a component of your social media strategy. Truth be told, this works as a starting point, but the larger the organization the more important it is to have a measurement framework in place. In other words, companies need something more formal with which to evaluate their social media success. In fact, Altimeter’s report on the Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist, notes that 48% of corporations said that their top priority is in creating a solid measurement process for evaluating social ROI.
Cool…how do you do it?
“The novice provide executives with engagement data –causing themselves to be stuck in the churn of obtaining more followers and fans –without a clear business goal.” –Jeremiah Owyang
While Altimeter’s research underscores the importance of measurement, the question businesses executives need to be asking is are you measuring the right things? Too much emphasis these days is placed on number of followers and fans and Altimeter’s own research discovered that some 65% of companies are measuring “engagement” with only 22% using “product revenue” as a metric. Hum. From a sales perspective it seems to me that you want to be tracking product and services sales and not just “engagement”. Ironically, the focus on engagement means that it’s darn hard to tie the effects of “awareness” to physical sales, so it’s probably time to think about how to move beyond strictly looking at followers and fans and what nice (or not so nice) things they have to say about your brand.
The Social ROI Pyramid
“The seasoned professional provides executives with business metrics first. They know fans and followers aren’t a business goal, but what you do with them is.” –Jeremiah Owyang
5 Elements were referenced in Jeremiah’s presentation with respect to “standardizing” an approach for measuring social success across the organization. They are:
- Start with a business goal in mind. No argument here, because it is something that I whole heartedly believe in and preach.
- Provide the right data to the right people. Not everyone in your org needs the same information. Take the time to break it down and make it applicable to the respective roles within the company.
- Vary the frequency and quantity of the data that you provide. As an example, top execs don’t need to be subjected to nauseating levels of detail that some social strategist’s feel compelled to provide. Similar to public speaking – know your audience and provide the information to them accordingly.
- Customize your formulas. Industry standards don’t exist at this point and they might not for some time. You don’t need to wait though. Create the analytics that best support your business goals now and plan to adapt and refine them as you move forward.
- Benchmark over time. According to Jeremiah, specific numbers are not as important as watching for the trend lines over time. In order to determine those monthly, quarterly and annual trends, you must start measuring now in order to gain the insight that you and your social media teams will need going forward.
The message that came through loud and clear today is that anyone responsible for social media strategy must have an organized process and measurement approach nailed down before they dive head first into that next glitzy Facebook campaign! To do otherwise means you’ll probably bomb out.