If you are serious about measuring social media, here are seven pitfalls that can lead you down the dark path to frustration and failure (and perhaps to the unemployment line):
Low Hanging Fruit
Basic social media metrics are readily available, easy to get and generally cheap (or free). But if you are serious about measurement, you’ll have to break a sweat and stretch beyond simple metrics that serve as “gain” indicators (traffic, buzz volume, fans, etc.).
It isn’t that “gain” metrics don’t have value — they serve as useful pieces of important calculations. But by themselves, they can’t answer questions about the business impact of social media. As Olivier Blanchard put it “…bread and ham may individually be part of the ham sandwich but ham alone is not a ham sandwich”.
If you don’t know where you are going, how can you possibly know when you arrive? Goals are a prerequisite for any type of measurement.
Goals tell you if you are on the right path and how far you have to go before you get *there*. Hint: The more directly your SM measurement goals can be shown as related to your core business goals (think: increased revenue, decreased costs…), the greater your chances of being taken seriously by senior management.
One of the key reasons we are data-rich and insight-poor is that potentially useful social media data lives in many disparate places.
Call it “spreadsheet fatigue” perhaps, but many marketers and analysts tend not to look at the data as often, and thus are less likely to follow up on hunches or insights when it takes too much time (and elbow-grease) to bring the really useful data together into one place for analysis.
Effective measurement can’t happen until you de-silo the most common data sources for social media (web analytics, social channels, CRM systems, social media monitoring systems).
Note: This doesn’t mean that you can’t start measuring social media until you completely rebuild your organization’s IT infrastructure. It does mean that you will have to find ways to create “data windows,” or views into the data you need. Think “forest”, not “trees.”
RESOURCE: Social Media Metrics Secrets (see chapter 2 section on “Assembling a Panoramic Perspective”)
Measuring social media is hard enough. Measuring a haphazardly-executed social media program is near impossible.
If there are inadequate systems and processes in place for managing your social media marketing program, you won’t be able to collect and organize all of the data points needed (and it won’t matter because you will be so busy running around like a chicken with its head cut off that you won’t have time for analysis anyway).
If this is your problem, fixing it won’t happen overnight, but one simple thing you can do right now is to organize campaign URLs used in social media campaigns. This makes for simpler, cleaner, faster analysis of social media campaigns.
RESOURCE: Free campaign URL Tracker
If you want to generate meaningless, highly questionable reports that are packed with pretty charts and graphs, then 30 days and a handful of metrics will work just fine.
Sure, two points is all you need to draw a line. But gaining insights about cause and effect and/or building predictive models requires tracking data trends over time.
Many of the most insightful “ah-ha!” moments in measurement come out of correlations and trending over the long term, so don’t expect immediate and obvious answers as soon as you hit the “on” switch and start collecting data. The more perspective you have at your disposal, the more compelling your results can be.
RESOURCE: The ROI of Emily
There will always be someone in the room who points out that what you are trying to measure can’t be measured (and/or probably shouldn’t be measured). Ignore these people (or find ways around them).
Sticking with what’s tried and true (and what you know how to do) will take you only so far in these times. In a tumultuous, frenetic field with no benchmarks, no settled industry standards and no baselines, you’ll need to be creative, experimental, and unfazed by obstacles.
Trust the “experts,” if you like, but trust yourself and your creative intuitions even more. Translation: Pioneers needed in social media measurement.
Senior executives understand business goals. They do not get (nor do they want to get) follower to following ratios, average engagement per post, or true Twitter network size. (And, no, they are not likely to laugh if you throw out that cute little sound bite about calculating the ROI of your mother.)
If you do not translate measurement into a context that can be understood by senior management, you lose credibility (and possibly even your job).
Take your metrics and data points and turn them into calculations that speak to the business goals understood and valued by senior executives. For example, do some calculations on the leads and customers generated by social media.
Do social leads convert at a higher rate? Do customers who are connected to your brand through social channels have a higher life time value? Do they cost less to acquire?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.