Arguably, one of the most-discussed topics among marketers over the last few years has been social media – in particular, how to quantify or otherwise measure the investment in blogging or participation on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the new Google+. Measurement, it seems, has been a sticking point for many who hesitate to delve into social media.
However, as Bob Dylan famously sang, the times they are a-changin’. A recent study by Lenskold Group found that most marketers feel they are improving in their ability to measure overall marketing ROI, including certain elements of social media marketing.
Opinions are mixed, but many experts agree that some of the same methods used to measure traditional marketing can be employed.
One approach is to examine social media outcomes.
Engagement (basically, who’s interested in what you’re offering) is frequently suggested as a metric. Companies can gauge their level of engagement by tracking the number of people who “like” it on Facebook, how many comments the corporate blog gets, or the number of times it gets re-tweeted. Scores on ratings websites like Yelp! or the Better Business Bureau can also be factored in.
Other potentially measureable outcomes include the number of new names, prospects, leads and sales generated from social media activities. Or changes in awareness or perception that resulted from those same actions.
Influence is a related and equally measurable concept – by reviewing a company’s online content in terms of: what is being commented on and shared, the quality and quantity of its inbound links, Facebook “likes” and comments, re-tweets and positive references from all Internet sources. Another metric can be the company’s significance to its social media sites, as determined by the amount of interaction per users (follows, likes, subscribers, etc.).
Share of voice can be another measurement of social media success. Comparing online conversations about a product (on social media sites, blogs and forums) to those that mention competing products can tell marketers how their brand stacks up.
Social media measurement, particularly the do-it-yourself variety, frequently involves spreadsheets, like those created with Excel. One method calls for tracking each interaction (post, tweet, update) on a spreadsheet, along with one or more of the following: how many “likes” or +1′s it received; the number of views or impressions that resulted; or how many click-throughs.
Larger brands, or smaller ones with robust social media marketing programs, may want to check out some of the new tools that have been developed to track and measure social media activities. Social Report and Radian6 are just two examples.
For more information on using social media for business marketing, contact Walt Denny Inc. at 630.323.0555, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.waltdenny.com.