Measuring Social Media… Meaningfully

One of the reasons that I like reading white papers by the Altimeter Group is that the papers typically have a concise and implentable method to the madness.  For most of the clients that I work with, we are seeing an often chaotic approach to diving into Social Media.  Jeremiah Owyang and John Lovett recently published a paper titled: Social Marketing Analytics – A New Framework for Measuring Results in Social Media.  I’ve included the paper from Slideshare below this post.

The thesis of the paper really is that “organizations that develop social media measurement strategies which align key success metrics with business objectives will evolve more quickly.”  Maybe this is something that is obvious, but it’s easier to say than to actually put into practice.  Sometimes a bit of structure can go along way, and the paper urges organizations first to think of their foray into Social Media as a learning experience that will build for the future.  I’ve said it before, but companies need to think about what their business objectives and requirements are before selecting a vendor or product.  Social Media is a tool.  Don’t start swinging that hammer until you know what it’s going to help you achieve.

Take the time to really map out what parts of your individual business unit (or entire corporate strategy) can benefit from two-way conversations.  For starters, the paper addresses four large business objectives: Foster Dialogue, Promote Advocacy, Facilitate Support and Spur Innovation.  From my perspective, these are successive objectives that can be addressed more fully as your organization takes action on each of the ones prior.

Most of our clients use monitoring tools to Foster Dialogue and Promote Advocacy, so it’s something that’s easier for me to talk about.  If you’re just starting out with Social Media, I would concentrate on really creating solid metrics around these two objectives first.  However, map out how you can use Social Media for the other two as well.  Having a plan and a clear sense of direction can help your organization ensure that your efforts are aligned with the proper growth of Social Media as it relates to your business.

Within Foster Dialogue, the paper points to three measurable KPIs: Share of Voice, Audience Engagement and Conversation Reach.  Conversation Reach is a bit harder to define, but probably the most important with respect to demonstrating ROI.  While they have created a general framework, it is imperative that you define relevant conversations first.  Which of your competitors do you want to track, and what aspects of the conversations around those competitors can actually affect your own business?  Based on experience, the hazy noise cloud of a thousand conversations can often lead to analysis paralysis.  Be concrete in what you are looking for today, and what you want to look for in the future.

Within Promote Advocacy, the paper points to three other KPIs: Active Advocates, Influential Advocates and Advocate Impact.  Again the last KPI (Advocate Impact) drives the most ROI, but right now this an extremely difficult piece to track.  Getting influencers highly tied into your sales and marketing efforts is the goal, but for most of our clients, that’s a long way away.  For the time being, I would stay focused on understanding where advocates both for your own organization as well as those of competitors are coming from.  Listen to their conversations, and try to discover where opportunities lie for high impact individuals to help drive campaign and product messages without injecting too much of a sales pitch into your own interactions with them.

Overall, the paper is relatively brief, and I would suggest taking a look for yourself.  The more metrics you can put in place from the beginning, the easier it will be to demonstrate the value of your future efforts.

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2 Comments

Filed under Corporate Social Media

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  • http:www.managingautomation.com Chris C

    Measuring the impact of social media and a company’s reputation in that realm are important practices, no doubt, and you hit on some good practices in that respect. I’ve become concerned lately with the flip side of the coin — how their use of social media is affecting the ways customers interact with brand owners and goods producers, and what they demand from their products these days. For any manufacturer or marketer, I think this shift will occupy much of their time and effort in the coming years. Would love to hear your thoughts on the premise: http://blog.managingautomation.com/channel/2010/11/buying-behavior-in-the-age-of-facebook-twitter-and-linkedin/