Measuring social media continues to be one of the biggest challenges that most social media marketers face. Social media includes countless metrics and measurements, yet turning these into meaningful and actionable insights tends to be the big challenge. As I’m preparing for our upcoming measuring social media training class, I wanted to share my thoughts on how to approach measurement.
In a previous life, I spent years as a financial analyst, where my job was to analyze the impact of our marketing efforts. The sad truth is that most marketing is difficult to measure, but over the years we’ve established benchmarks and rules of thumb that are generally accepted that allow us to attach numbers and compare investments. At the end of the day, we don’t actually KNOW for sure how many people bought a tube of Crest because they saw a print ad, but we have established metrics for effectiveness.
With social media we don’t have these generally accepted benchmarks, which makes measuring more challenging.
That being said, here are 3 steps to get your started in approaching your social media measurement.
5 Steps to Building a Social Media Measurement Plan
1. Identify WHY you are measuring.
This may sound obvious, but really it isn’t. The purpose for your measurement quest will determine how you choose to approach measurement. Why are you measuring… is it to:
- improve social media efforts
- report to a boss or stakeholder
- inform choices within your marketing budget
Depending on your objective, the approach and actual metrics will vary. Start by asking WHY you are measuring, WHO it is for and WHAT you hope to get out of it.
2. Identify potential metrics
At the end of the day, you are limited by the data you have access to. Start the quest for measurement by identifying all of the data you have access to (or could buy) so that you know what your options are. While there is a lot of data about social media efforts, often brands find that the data is still very limited once they begin to dig-in. Identify all of the potential metrics that you could use.
3. Link metrics back to your objectives for social media and measurement
Link the metrics back to your objectives. WHAT are the numbers actually measuring or telling you. How does this link back to your initial objective for participating in social media? How does this link back to WHY you are measuring? Link each objective back to the different marketing objectives that you (ideally) established before engaging in social media. Understand WHAT each piece of data is actually telling you.
4. Choose the best metrics
The most relevant metrics should be obvious at this point. I’ve worked with brands where we mapped out how metrics linked to each measurement objective. For example, the amount of engagement on an individual post is a great diagnostic for how effective an individual piece of content is, but when looking at building brand awareness for reporting to a brand manager we’d look at total people reached. Really think about WHAT the STORY is that you want to tell, and make sure that the metrics support this story.
5. Link to business value
If possible, draw comparisons or conduct further analysis to link this back to your business value. How do your metrics tie back to business value? Can you compare them to metrics from other mediums? How do you turn the data into INSIGHTS to make it meaningful?