Google+ Consumer Psyche: Marketers and measuring social media

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Marketers and measuring social media

Marketers don't think they're very good at measuring social media. When my colleague Emily Riley asked marketers to rate their ability to measure the impact of their social media initiatives, the average grade they gave themselves was 4.5 out of 10. Not a great score -- especially given that accountability is one of the key selling points of interactive marketing. So I've spent a lot of time this year trying to understand why marketers aren't good at measuring social media -- and how they can do better.

The fact is, social media marketers are drowning in a sea of metrics. Every social platform and vendor offers its own metrics, and there are literally hundreds of ways to measure the success of social initiatives. With so many numbers to choose from, and so little insight into which metrics are important, it's not surprising that marketers feel overwhelmed.

Most marketers fixate on easily-available measures like followers or fans -- regardless of whether those metrics are important. Many others fail to measure obviously useful numbers just because they're not on the first page of a report. A marketer focused on talking [video] should have a radically different definition of success than one focused on embracing [video]. But marketers are much more likely to tailor their social media measurement to the tools they're using than to the objectives they're trying to achieve. Have a look -- most marketers measure pretty much the same metrics, no matter what their objective:

3steps

It's obvious that marketers need more clarity into which social media metrics they should be tracking. So we've developed a simple three-step process to help marketers better tailor their measurement strategies to the objectives they're pursuing. Walking through these three steps will help you cut through the clutter on your marketing reports and measure your social media initiatives more effectively:

  • Step 1: Think back to your marketing objective. Go back and find your notes from when you were first planning your social marketing effort -- and remind yourself of the objective you were pursuing. If you don't know what your goal was, you'll never know what you should be measuring, or if you succeeded.
  • Step 2: Consider what types of metrics signal success. Don't think about specific lines on a report yet -- instead, think about what types of consumer behaviors and sentiments match your objectives, and focus your measurement on those categories of metrics. If your goal was energizing, success is defined as lots of people saying positive things about your brand; if your goal was supporting, you want to know if users were providing good advice to each other -- and whether it kept users from having to ask you for support directly. Again, this isn't about specific metrics, it's about how you hoped your social initiative would change your relationship with consumers.
  • Step 3: Look for that category of metric in the social technology you're using. Once you've identified the type of metric that will signal success, then you can look for ways to track those metrics within the social platform you're using. This is when you should get into the specifics of which lines on the report Facebook or Jive gives you are most important -- and which other vendors you need to use to find the exact numbers you're looking for.

Via Forrester Research
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