Three Questions for Measuring Social, Not Media

You Manage What You Measure.broken dreams, broken heart, broken relationship, broken key

This should be a call to ensure you measure your social media activities, and to measure them correctly.

One of the challenges of measuring social media ROI is the return comes in many different forms. As companies develop social media plans and programs, anticipating the ways social media will deliver ROI is a challenge few have addressed. Most companies quickly implement traditional media measurements, slightly adapted for social media.

Before you continue, ask the following questions:

  • What is the return on relationships?
  • What is the return on participating in and driving industry discussions?
  • What is the return on people talking about your brand and product between each other?

Are your answers the returns you are expecting from social media? They should be. Social media activities creates these relationships and enables these discussions. If your social media measurement is focused on transactions and direct revenue (something many companies strive for), you are ignoring the social side of social media. Half of your social media program is broken.

Where is social in the measurement of clicks, page views or even revenue? It doesn’t exist. Focusing social media measurement on direct traffic and activity is as ludicrous as doing a TED talk and judging its value by how many visitors you had to myTEDtalk.mycompany.com. It captures a tiny fraction of the benefits, and more importantly, it doesn’t capture the most valuable benefits.

If you are stuck measuring, and thus managing, followers, fans, clicks, or even direct revenue, you will not effectively change what you do until you change what you measure. If you are not already measuring valuable relationships and discussions, here are two measurements to add to your social media measurement today:

  • Stories. These are the anecdotes about the individual relationships and discussions you are creating in social media (see Point 6 in the Jay Baer’s post). Someday, each of these anecdotes can unlock a real revenue opportunity. They are valuable discussions and relationships because of the potential they represent, not because of the measured results they drive today.
  • Targeted Engagement. Unlike the notable and unexpected anecdotes, targeted engagement is conversations with specific targeted individuals. For B2B marketers, this might be an industry analyst, a named prospect or someone with a specific job function. In B2C marketing, this can be driven by circumstance, such as someone looking for a new vehicle.

Social media has both social and media elements. Don’t ignore the return on the social side in your social media planning and the long-term return of developing valuable new relationships.

These measurements are certainly not right for every business, but if you are going to manage towards valuable relationships while continuing to share measured results, I believe you must find equivalent measurements.

How do you measure building real and valuable relationships in social media? How are you measuring the social side of social media? Share in the comments below or with me on Twitter.

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  • kenny

    superb

    • http://digitalb2b.wordpress.com Eric Wittlake

      One of my new success measures is when a staunch detractor to most advertising activities gives my post a single-word label: superb.

      Thanks, coming from you I really appreciate the comment!