At a recent Podcamp in Boston, some 200 people were in the room to hear me speak on measuring social media. There were certain things they did expect – but I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect what happened during the session.
Social media is about people having conversations and reactions. The web has become, in the minds of many, a place as real as any three dimensional place. To paraphrase Jeff Jarvis, the web is now a place to learn, act, react and transact. Just as storytelling would happen in places, so does the Internet brand of social storytelling. Measuring the impact of stories and conversations seems impossible, but there are elements that can be measured.
I brought up a recent Forrester Research blog where author Augie Ray breaks the ROI argument into four questions:
1. Financial: Has revenue or profit increased or costs decreased?
2. Brand: Have consumer attitudes about the brand improved?
3. Risk Management: Is the organization better prepared to note and respond to attacks or problems that affect reputation?
4. Digital: Has the company enhanced its owned and earned digital assets?
These four elements are not measuring social media. They are measuring the results of engagement with customers in social media. You may note they serve well for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) models. But, as Mr. Ray points out, “Marketers who only seek to measure results in one of these perspectives get an incomplete picture and, as a result, are unable to make effective decisions about social media marketing investments.”
I have long been an advocate of having your social media program reflect the corporate goals and be tightly integrated with other marketing efforts (and vice a versa). Correlating key social media measurement actions with core business measurements can result in a very detailed picture of how social media is affecting your business and especially your customers.
Now to wake up the people in my session: Hey PodCamp attendees! Since there is no single Holy Grail, it’s your turn to share which social media and business metrics YOU are going to use to measure YOUR social media program.
Crowd sourcing from 200+ people has some crazy shyness dynamics attached to it. So with thanks to Todd Van Hoosear, Carissa O’Brien and Adam Zand who helped break the ice in the room with their own (brilliant) answers, here is what was at the top of the attendees list:
Social Media metrics:
– The number of mentions and engagements, and on which social media platform;
– Share of conversation (how much is yours vs. your competitors);
– Contextual trends (what is being discussed)
– Depth of the conversations and about which products;
– Sentiment (positive, negative or neutral comments), (taken with a grain of salt until these become better). For example, “Wicked the Musical” is NOT a negative comment, nor is New England’s “Wicked Awesome” neutral;
– Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers.
Business metrics to correlate with these:
– Sales / Gross Margin / Gross Profit
– Customer retention
– Customer lifetime value
– New customers vs. repeat customers and comparison to pre-social media times.
– Call deflection to web
– Hold times
– Call time
– Specific issue trends and resolution time
Pair blog content with where your customers are playing in social media and both become more powerful. Not only are blogs indexed more frequently than other web sites, it gives you a voice to wrap good and bad reviews and events in context.
You are looking for correlations of confidence, not correlations of convenience. Local bars may open and the music starts to rock when the sun goes down, but you may be hard pressed to make that a causal relationship.
Now to try this crowdsourcing again at a different Podcamp. Shhhh. Please don’t ruin the surprise.