One way or another it has to be about the bottom line
CALGARY, AB, Feb. 15, 2012/ Troy Media – Carpenters have a saying “measure twice, cut once” designed to prevent wasted materials. The same principle applies to social media marketing – get the right measure before “cutting” a campaign and you’ll be a lot more productive.
Most companies start by measuring the obvious: fans, followers, views, tweets and retweets. The problem is, you’re likely not in the business of collecting fans or followers, and volume of tweets or retweets only vaguely approximates influence. It’s a bit like measuring success by how many business cards you collected versus appointments or sales. You’re paying attention to the wrong things.
Focus on outcomes, not fans
After all, you could be tweeting your brains out with robots aplenty retweeting you and nary a person paying attention – not exactly what you were hoping for.
As Jeremiah Owyang says on web-strategist.com:
Companies are frequently misguided by relying on fan and follower count as the primary measurement for their social media investments, instead they must focus on the outcomes of these fans and followers.”
Outcomes. Real action by real people. Now that’s something worth measuring. As reported by eMarketer.com, one way or another it has to be about the bottom line:
As top marketing executives plan how much to invest in social media and whether to shift funds from other marketing channels, they need metrics that show not only that their brands have a lot of friends but that those friends actually affect the bottom line.”
Sensing a gap in social media measurement, the market obliged, bringing us so-called measures of influence like Klout (defunct as of 2018), PeerIndex and now Kred. Many folks smarter than me and better at math have written about the numerous flaws in these measures (just Google “klout algorithm flaw” to get a taste). Even the most generous interpretation of these flaws would concede that one influence score hardly captures the notion of areas of expertise. For example, Hollywood stars may well be experts in film, but not so in areas like energy or pipelines or water use.
If followers and influence are poor measures, can social media marketing even be quantified?
You bet it can. As Owyang said, it’s outcomes that matter. How many people came to your event – that’s an outcome. How many donors you attracted – that’s another. How many voted your way. How many subscribers to your newsletter and how much churn there is in your subscriber base. How many clicks on your Facebook ad. How long they spent on the landing page that ad led them to. How many converted by signing up for or buying something, or applying for the job they spotted on LinkedIn. The possibilities are endless.
The only way for social media to matter to business is for it to impact outcomes. If a business is short of labour, we can explore whether social media can help attract talent, and we can measure whether it’s working. If customer retention is a problem we can investigate using Twitter as a customer service desk with YouTube support videos and then measure whether we satisfy and keep more clients. If a non-profit lacks funds or volunteers we can aim to replenish both via social media and our success or failure can be quantified.
Social media as expensive hobby
Without a solid sense of what outcomes are to be impacted by social media, it really is just an expensive time-consuming hobby.
You wouldn’t hire a carpenter that measured once and cut twice, wasting all your lumber would you? Then why allow waste in social media campaigns?
Identify a business need, investigate if social media can help, craft a campaign, identify success metrics, pull the lever, measure, see what happens, keep the winners and kill the losers. Just like marketing has always done.
Now get out there and cut some lumber, but bring your tape measure, you’ll need it.