Challenges measuring the impact of social media include: fragmented data capture due to multichannel, online-offline engagement, constant changes and evolving technologies. Also, social media measurement may be under-resourced when too few team members are engaged.
Efficiency does not always equal effectiveness with social media.
Tools exist to help assess and understand social media influence. Analytics tools can highlight what is driving actions, such as clicks and applications. They should be analyzed for meaning and to iteratively adjust the social media strategy.
Prioritize your social media tools. Set up social analytics tracking tools in advance because many analytics tools track in real time.
Social media measurement is like using a compass.
Measuring the impact of social media in quantitative terms is difficult. Try taking a qualitative approach to understand social influence complexity. “Soft metrics” will not point directly to how social impacts the bottom line (a sale, a hire).
However, more advanced tools are evolving like Adobe Social and Google Analytics Social Plugin to enable social media marketing accountability. For more concrete analysis install Google Analytics new social plugin.
What are Social Metrics?
To effectively mobilize metrics have clear goals and know what actions you want people to take. Be clear with your call to action.
Metrics should be identified with a specific, revisable objective such as a number, percentage or increase or decrease in date. For example, increase Twitter followers or LinkedIn connection by 200 percent by April 2013. Metrics can be broken down into short and long term. Break down goals into monthly or quarterly benchmarks.
Metrics are answers to questions such as:
• who are you reaching?
• how are you reaching them?
• how frequently do you reach them per week or month?
• who is reacting?
• where are they reacting?
• what are they saying?
• what are we saying that gets them talking?
Establish a robust metrics program by getting support from top management, identifying a chief metrics guru and collecting social data in Excel. Data should be used to analyze effectiveness and refine and fine tune the social media recruitment strategy including deciding what metrics to evaluate.
Seventy five percent of organizations lack a holistic measurement strategy for social media (MarketingProfs, 2012a). Sixty two percent of marketers said that the inability to prove ROI on new media platforms is a top concern. Of 19 newer media metrics only one metric (purchase) was ranked for top effectiveness.
Marketers report that metrics need to be better defined in the industry such as: momentum effect (41%), the value of a fan/follower (40%) and advocacy (39%).
Altimeter Group conducted an extensive analysis of the ways large organizations measure the revenue impact of social media. Overall they found that successful social media measurement programs share several characteristics:
• They are candidate/customer-centric
• They value experimentation
• They are aware that social media is new
• And, most significantly, they “have the courage to learn from – and the generosity to share – their experiences”.
More specifically Altimeter found six ways of measuring social media ROI in two categories. The first category is Top Down including: Anecdote (success stories, 44% of respondents), Correlation (comparing simple data sets, 44%), Multivariate Testing (comparing groups depending on exposure, 17%). The second category is Bottom Up including: Links and Tagging (bit.ly, 42%), Integrated (outsourcing data analysis, 32%) and Direct Commerce (addition of ecommerce storefront to social platform, 16%).
Measure to learn, not to satisfy obligatory metrics requirements. Measure awareness by asking, how far is my message spreading? Look at volume, reach, exposure and amplification. Measure engagement by asking how far is your message spreading?