[This is the second in a series of posts this week recapping themes and topics discussed at the inaugural Social Slam conference, an event sponsored in part by Ackermann PR.]
Yesterday’s blog post about the ROI of ROI landed, by a happy coincidence, in the middle of a several vigorous debates taking place among other bloggers about the value of measuring results.
One of the best entries I read yesterday was from Mark W. Schaefer (@MarkWSchaefer), a marketing professional living here in Knoxville and the organizer for Social Slam. Mark’s blog post, “How To Save Your Butt When the Social Media Bubble Bursts,” is a thought-provoking and well-reasoned rant against those who say that measuring social media metrics is annoying at best and unnecessary at worst.
I have been fortunate to work with clients to help them understand the importance of establishing measurement standards. One of my favorite projects was a full-scale digital audit of a large corporation with multiple touch points in the digital world. One of the steps we take in these audits is to identify what is currently being measured, how those measurements are being shared throughout the organization, and whether the data being measured is helping the team to understand and meet their goals.
The company has made use of those recommendations to develop an internal measurement and reporting structure so that everyone can now see how the digital team is helping the company meets its overall goals. (A mini-case study about the digital audit process we conducted is available in our services section.)
As I mentioned in my own post yesterday, there is a virtual firehose of information available to be measured. In fact, I suspect it’s one of the reasons some people back away from measurement. It’s quite easy to be overwhelmed with too much data. The key is to find the metrics that best match your specific goals. Not every measurable data point is relevant to your needs.
Don’t let the overwhelming number of metrics paralyze you. Find the data points most important to your needs and focus on them.
Financial data is certainly great to have, but don’t forget the indirect financial data, too. There are plenty of intangibles within social media (as with television, radio, op-ed columns, billboards, and logo-emblazoned beer can holders), but, in theory, we’re still measuring toward some goal and even the intangibles can be recorded and observed. How are you using social media (or beer koozies) to get closer to the goal line? Is the use of a social media tool helping you save money somewhere else? Has a contact developed through social media introduced you to a new business account? Has a media story about your Twitter customer service team generated a spike in website visits? And, did those visits generate e-commerce activity? Record it and report it.
Finally, you can measure behavior changes as well as metrics or financials. Is your social media activity designed to make people take action in some way? How are you tracking this? And, are you reporting it to the rest of your team?
I wonder sometimes if the reluctance to record and report is based in part on a fear that the numbers will draw attention to areas that are underperforming? If so, what hidden successes are you also missing? Hiding the failures doesn’t give us an opportunity to learn from what we’ve measured and to readjust our course. Failing to measure, simply means we’ll fail to know if we’ve failed at all.
What do you think? Are you measuring now? Are you trying to figure out what to measure? What steps are you planning to take this year to improve your measurement and reporting practices?