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Seven steps to effective social media measurement

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 19th October 2009

At a Marketing Week conference I attended recently, one of the speakers asked the assembled crowd (all senior marketing people from some of the UK’s top brands) if they were participating in social media.  Amazingly, only three out of about a hundred put their hands up!

The vast majority of brands think they should be embracing social media, and most want to be there, so why this reluctance to take the bull by the horns?

Social media is still unexplored territory for many and marketers  want to be sure it will actually make a difference.  By putting in place a measurement strategy right from the outset, you are taking the first step to gaining a clear justification for your social media activity.

Here are our seven steps to getting social media measurement right:

1. Put in place an overall objective – if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve through social media, then any kind of measurement will be impossible. Keep it simple and top line, at least to start with.

2. Identify the specific measures that will demonstrate progress – these goals will likely change over time, but try and put in place some metrics that can be easily benchmarked.

3. Don’t tie metrics to specific platforms, but to conversations – it’s very tempting to chart success against metrics tied to a certain social network – e.g. Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Flickr group numbers. But what does this actually mean to your overall objective or business aim? Monitoring conversations across the whole social media space is a much better success metric as it charts engagement right through to conversion.

4. Be patient, don’t expect instant results – this is not an exact science and there is (quite rightly) still a certain amount of trial and error in social media campaigns – and it’s likely there always will be).

5. Choose your destinations carefully – nine times out of ten, the conversations you participate in during a campaign will usually focus on some sort of end destination – be it a microsite, webpage, Slideshare presentation etc. Choosing the right destination, with the right content, is crucial and make sure you also have the right tools to measure their effectiveness.

6. Review the campaign on a regular basis – a day is a long time in social media and campaigns need constant care and attention. Don’t forget that the real-time web doesn’t have nine to five hours. Measurement needs to be ongoing.

7. Always try to tie metrics to specific business goals – at the end of the day, if you are unsure whether social media is helping your business, then either the campaign is wrong, you’re not measuring the right things, or it’s time to call it a day!

Danny Whatmough