When it comes to social media measurement one thing is for sure: brands have ready access to an abundance of data. Every day there seems to be a new tool to slice, dice, plot and visualize a company’s performance across social media platforms. The real challenges are identifying which data are truly valuable and establishing metrics that actually matter to the business. When creating a social media measurement program there are four points key to keep in mind.
- Start With the Future – Determine the business objective for your social media program or specific campaign. By clearly identifying the business outcomes you are trying to influence, you can then work backward to identify the appropriate metrics and the tracking systems to link the impact of your social media activity on influencing the outcomes. For example, if you are tasked with driving sales, use a unique URL in your social campaign so that you can track the traffic to the product page on your web site that was specifically generated through social.
- Social Media is Not an Island – Know what your company is already measuring and collaborate with others to determine how best to correlate social media activity with existing measurement programs. If your social media program is designed to improve customer service, are you able to demonstrate the impact you are having on call center volume? Is your presence influencing the tone of coverage in traditional media? Working with others to link social media’s impact on traditional business operations helps to showcase its true value to the business while avoiding an ‘inside baseball’ approach.
- Measure For Success/Analyze for Action – Establishing metrics that correlate with your pre-determined business objectives is an important way to evaluate the end results of a campaign or overall performance. But it’s equally important to build in metrics that will help you analyze the quality of your communication and the engagement of your audience. Track which type of content is generated and being shared with others. Does it differ by tone, subject matter, time of day or format? And are you reaching the right people? What is your percentage of return visitors and seek out more that match their profiles. By doing these things, you will not only build your community, but improve the quality as well.
- There is No One Perfect Tool – Even if you are willing and able to pay a premium for an advanced social media measurement tool, it is unlikely that you will find something that is exactly what you were hoping for. It is inevitable that you will be paying for a functionality that you don’t need or find that a specific social platform is not covered the way you want it to be. Stop seeking perfection. There are a host of resources available, and many fantastic tools that are free. No matter what tool(s) you identify, nothing can replace human analysis to put data in perspective and translate it in a way that corresponds to your organization’s operations.
Because social media is fluid, it is easy to feel that the ground is constantly shifting beneath your feet. But by embracing that fact, and leveraging the abundance of data available, communicators have the opportunity to constantly improve the quality of their product but also demonstrate the meaningful impact of their work. To do so, they must start with a clear understanding of the business objective, collaborate with others, and utilize the wealth of tools available to compile and present information that resonates within their organization.