Tag Archives: social media ROI

Five Social Media Measurement Questions I Hope (NOT) To See in 2014

2 Jan

I get asked lots of great questions about social media measurement. Following are five not so great ones I hope not to hear in 2014. 

How do you measure social media?

I get this question quite often and I enjoy it each time because if provides me the opportunity to make an important point about measurement and be a little snarky at the same time. Good stuff! When I get this question, my answer is always the same; “I don’t measure ‘social media’, I measure what you are trying to accomplish with social media.” This may seem like I’m playing semantic games, but the distinction is very important. Measurement is fundamentally about performance against objectives. So, we measure our performance against the objectives established in the social media plan. A lot of what passes for measurement in social media is really data collection – tracking Followers or Likes, blog traffic or consumer engagement on Facebook. Unless you have measurable objectives and targets in each of these areas, you are collecting data not measuring. What do you want to happen as a result of your social media campaign or initiative? Measure that.

QMarksHow much is a Like worth?

This question doesn’t come up quite as often as in 2012, but it is still asked and, unfortunately, answered largely based on flawed logic and/or research design. You may recall the first two ‘research’ studies attempting to answer this question came up with widely disparate values – somewhere around $3.14 in one case and over 100 dollars in the other. This alone should raise major red flags. Setting the flawed research aside, trying to assign a value to a Like happens because people are desperate to assign financial value to social media and determine ROI. Those are noble things to do, but we need to focus on the other end of the customer journey – have we created engagement, has the engagement changed opinions, attitudes, beliefs or behavior, and how those changes translate to Impact. Unless you understand the Impact created by your social media program you really can’t attribute value properly. I would argue that Likes, which can be bought or gamified, really have no inherent value.

Can I use a banner ad cost to calculate social media AVE?

This question is somewhat related to the ‘Like worth’ question in that it reflects a desire to quickly and easily assign financial value, when in fact assigning financial value is often hard and expensive. In this case, the questioner is attempting to take the highly flawed and discredited concept of Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) and apply it to social media. Where this question typically comes up is in blogger relations where a company/brand/organization has worked with a blogger to earn ‘coverage’ on the blog and wants to assign a financial value to the post. They would like to say that the post is worth X, with X being the cost of a banner ad on the blog (setting aside, of course, that many blogs do not accept advertising). Equating cost with value is comparing apples to oranges. First, a better practice is not to assign value to each post, but to all the posts together in a campaign. Then instead of trying to say the campaign is worth say 14.35 ads, try to explain the actual impact the campaign has created on the target audience – e.g. increase in awareness, increase in purchase intent or, higher propensity to purchase more often. Once you understand the impact, decide if you have the data, time, expertise and budget to assign financial impact to the impact created.

Which social media listening tool do you recommend?

The correct answer to this question is, “it depends.” This is a bad question simply because there is no one ‘best’ social media listening tool for all circumstances and use cases. I believe you should always develop a set of platform requirements driven by the social listening stakeholders in your organization. Once these needs and requirements are understood, develop a custom RFI designed around the specific requirements you have identified. Have each of your potential platform partners respond to the RFI. Have the best respondents given you a platform demonstration according to a custom demonstration script you have developed. Pick the listening tool that best meets your unique requirements. The last three evaluations I have conducted for clients resulted in three different ‘winners’. There is no ‘best social listening tool, so find the tool that meets your requirements the best.

How many Impressions did we get with our latest social media campaign?

This is not a terrible question at all unless it is the only question asked or is perceived to be the key metric for measuring social media campaign performance. Too often, organizations use Impressions as their primary social media metric instead of engagement, influence or action-oriented metrics. Also, keep in mind Impressions represent an opportunity to see content, they are not the actual number of people who saw the content, that number is MUCH lower. Impressions always overstate the actual number of people who were exposed to your content and message.

If you plan to report on campaign impressions, please seriously consider only taking credit for those impressions that are directly against your target audience. If your target is 25 – 34 year old Males, you should only report on the impressions against this target group. Why take credit for 45 – 60 year old Female impressions when the product is not at all relevant to this audience?  Target audience impressions are really what you should be concerned about and what you should be reporting. Many people know and understand this but still persist in reporting all impressions because the number is usually much larger – meaningless but larger.

If you do report on Impressions, please consider using the emerging industry standard definitions developed by The Coalition. This will help ensure we define Impressions consistently and don’t confuse Reach with Impressions.

See things differently? Have your own pet peeve social media measurement questions to share? As always, thanks for reading. All the best in 2014!

@Donbart

Image credit: amasterpics123 / 123RF Stock Photo

Social Media Measurement at a Crossroads

21 Aug

We are at a crossroads in social media measurement. Expectations for rigorous and relevant measurement have risen more quickly than delivery. Too many are fixated on quantitative outputs – speeds and feeds – at the expense of understanding the outcomes achieved by social media marketing and social business. There is still too much emphasis on vanity metrics and not enough on business results. And, if you take a step back, there is simply too much talk about all this and not enough action. At the risk of exacerbating the last point, let me explain.

 

Social Media Measurement Started with the Wrong Orientation

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, digital measurement focused on website analytics. The orientation was heavily quantitative. How many unique visitors? How many page views? How long did people remain on site? By 2007, with Facebook now three years old and Twitter completing it’s inaugural year, social media measurement was becoming a hot topic.

Crossroads1Early social media measurement practitioners generally came from the web analytics world. Early social media measurement efforts focused on quantifying outputs and not addressing the outcome of the program. The orientation was on ‘How Many?’ and not ‘What Happened?’ The quantitative orientation also came at the expense of qualitative assessment. The emphasis was on getting easily accessible statistics and not on content analysis to understand meaning and implications. These issues remain today, although we have made significant progress toward shifting the orientation to outcomes and business results.

In the early adopter phase of social media, social media measurement was under little pressure to go beyond quantitative output analysis. Many brands, companies and organizations viewed social media participation as a bit of an experiment to see how it best could be used within their organizations. But this was soon to change.

Struggle Between Easy/Superficial and Hard/Meaningful

It is difficult to pinpoint when social media crossed the chasm into a mainstream business activity. An IDC study in the Fall of 2009 suggested the state of social media still best fit the early adopter and not mainstream use pattern at that point in time. 2011 felt like the year the leap happened to me. With it came a new and emerging set of expectations around social media measurement.

Crossroads2In measurement, it is a truism that the metrics that are easiest to measure are seldom the ones that are most meaningful. It may be easy to measure outputs, but it is often much more difficult and expensive to measure outcomes. It is much easier to determine brand mentions in social media than it is to assess whether or not social programming has changed opinions and attitudes of the target.  It is infinitely easier to measure unique visitors per month than it is to determine the return on investment of a social media initiative.

Now that social media clearly is a mainstream business activity, the pressure to demonstrate the impact and value of social media has greatly increased. As the resources and investment against social media and social business become meaningful line items in the budget, the game changes. Demonstrating business impact and value requires an understanding of the business model of the company or organization and how social media/business creates impact (e.g. change in awareness, increase in purchase consideration, increase in active advocates around an issue) in that environment. Measuring impact is more difficult than measuring audience or engagement. It often involves primary audience research so the price tag is higher.

This is a key struggle we face – will we continue to take the easy, less expensive, minimal-value-of-the-findings approach or we will take social media measurement to another level, focusing on outcomes, investing in audience research and applying rigorous analytics to get at meaning and insight? The imperative is clear, how we respond will be telling. 

A Final Turn to the Right

One of the key themes at this year’s AMEC measurement conference in Madrid was creating a bias toward action. The time to (just) talk about measurement is in the past, the time for action is now. I might suggest this goes double for social media measurement. Here are three areas we can address that will help make the leap from talk to action.Crossroads3

  1. Every social media initiative has a measurement plan. Let’s make this happen. Literally any social media initiative, program or activity should have a measurement plan defined before implementation begins. Start with writing social media objectives that are measurable. Align social media metrics with business KPIs. Select metrics across multiple dimensions – programmatic, channel-specific and business-level metrics, for example. Or perhaps paid, owned, earned and shared metrics if your program is integrated across these dimensions. Collect data. Assess performance against objectives. Rinse and repeat
  2. Take a stand on standards. An exciting cross-industry effort has produced a set of proposed standards for social media metrics. Adopting standard definitions and metrics for social media is an important stage of measurement maturity that other marketing disciplines like advertising and direct marketing have already reached.
  3. Understand, articulate & demonstrate business impact.  The heat is on to demonstrate how social media is helping drive the business or organization forward. We must do a better job of connecting the dots between business KPIs, social media objectives and social media metrics and measurement. In some cases, we want to go beyond understanding attitudinal and behavioral changes to understand the financial value of the impact created. Capturing the financial value of social media requires expertise, data, time and money. We would always like to measure impact, and when it makes sense, we may push further to attribute financial value.

It will be interesting to see what the next year in social media measurement brings. The move toward standardization alone should be fascinating to watch. I have tried to make the argument we are at a crossroads or inflection point in social media measurement maturity. What ‘worked’ for us in the past will not work in the future. We know the expectations. The great unknown is how we respond.

Note: This post was inspired by a Carma webinar,co-sponsored by PRNews, I gave recently. You may download slides from that webinar here.

Social Media Measurement at a Crossroads

25 Jul

Please join me on August 6, from 2:00 – 3:00pm EDT for CARMA’s fourth quarterly webinar, co-sponsored by PRNews, titled “Social Media Measurement at a Crossroads.” Here is a little more information on the webinar:

With social media clearly entrenched as a mainstream business activity, the need to measure the impact on the organization has never been greater. While social media practitioners talk about Like or Follower growth, organizations want to understand how social media is helping drive the business or cause forward. 

Another challenge in social media measurement is the lack of standard definitions, approaches and metrics. In response, a cross-industry push to define social media standards was initiated and initial standards recently published. Social media measurement is clearly at a crossroads where new thinking and approaches are emerging.

In this session you will learn:

  • How to align KPIs and metrics to demonstrate organizational impact and value. 
  • What industry efforts are being made toward standardization and the implications for how you approach social media measurement
  • New models, metrics and frameworks you can use today to develop more effective social media measurement programs.

I will be joined by PRNews Group Editor Matthew Schwartz, who will moderate the discussion and lead a Q&A session.

Here is a link to register for the session. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you would like answered during the webinar and I will do my best to address them. Hope you can join!

Measurement 2020 and Other Fantasies

23 Sep

At the 3rd European Summit on Measurement held in Lisbon in June 2011, standardization, education, ROI and measurement ubiquity emerged as the key themes in response to a call to set the Measurement Agenda 2020.  Delegates to the conference voted on 12 priorities they thought were most important to focus on in the period leading up to 2020.  The top four vote-getters became the Measurement Agenda 2020:

  1. How to measure the return on investment of public relations (89%)
  2. Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement (83%)
  3. Measurement of PR campaigns and programs needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit (73%)
  4. Institute a client education program such that clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from PR programs (61%)

For a very nice overview of the Lisbon session and the Barcelona Principles that came before, read this post from Dr. David Rockland of Ketchum who chaired the Barcelona and Lisbon sessions.  David pretty much said it all on these sessions, so I’ll just add a couple of comments and share a few thoughts on what I believe the future of measurement 2020 could be.

The rallying cry coming out of Barcelona has been focused and loud – death to AVEs!  Will there be a similar thematic coming out of Lisbon and what might it be?  My money is on standardization, borne out of cross-industry cooperation.  As David points out in his post, and in the words of AMEC Chairman Mike Daniels, “The Summit identified some significant challenges for the PR profession to address by 2020.  However, what we also accomplished in Lisbon beyond setting the priorities was to harness the commitment and energy of the industry to agree what we need to do together.”  The current cooperation and collaboration between industry groups – AMEC, Institute for Public Relations, PRSA and the Council of PR Firms is unprecedented in my time in this industry and is focused on tangible outcomes.  Cross-organization committees are already at work developing standard metrics for social media measurement for example.  The spirit of cooperation is uplifting.  While the outward thematic appears to be standardization, cooperation is the enabling force.  

I was also struck by the symmetry of the call to end AVEs in Barcelona and the call to codify ways to measure ROI in Lisbon.  One follows the other.  In my opinion the primary reason AVEs exist is because PR practitioners feel pressure to prove the value of what they do, and quite often they are asked to describe the impact in financial terms.  AVEs are perceived as a path of least resistance way to express financial value.  Except, as we all know, AVEs don’t really have anything to do with the impact public relations creates.  They are a misguided proxy for financial value.  Hence the need for research-based methods to determine true return on investment.

All of the priorities coming out of Lisbon are excellent goals for the industry.  And like David Rockland, I believe they will be achieved, and be achieved before 2020.  Here are three other items on my wish list for Measurement 2020:

Word of Mouth/Word of Mouse Integration: For those of us focused in social media and other digital technologies, we can’t allow our digital lens to color what is fundamentally an analog world.  Research studies suggest the majority of word of mouth happens in real life.  From an influence perspective, I don’t think too many would argue that word of mouth from a trusted friend or family member is more powerful than word of mouse from someone you follow on Twitter.  Digital cross-platform research is difficult enough, but when one huge platform is ‘real life’, we have significant challenges in measurement.  WOMMA and others have made early attempts to define measurement approaches for offline WOM, but much work remains.  We need ways to assess its impact and then we need to think about ways to attribute value to that impact.  Mobile is a wild card here as it becomes the preferred platform for online activity.  The need to triangulate online, mobile and ‘real life’ measurement presents significant challenges today, and may still by 2020.

Cookie Wars: We all know the measurement versus privacy showdown is coming, right?  The first shots have already been fired.  The collection of source-level personal data, enabled by cookies, is crucial to measurement and insights but has the potential for misuse or unintended disclosure.  Some sophisticated consumers have had their fill of cookies.  Although the broader issue might be framed as social sharing versus privacy control, how it plays out will have a direct impact on digital analytics and measurement.

Integrated Measurement across the Paid Earned Shared Owned (PESO) Spectrum: Measurement has increasingly become integrated.  It began with integrated traditional (Earned) and social media (Shared) measurement and then progressed rapidly to Earned, Owned and Shared, which is where most integrated measurement programs are today.  Many leading-edge integrated programs today also include advertising or Paid media.  By 2020, integrated measurement across the PESO spectrum will most likely be the norm and not the exception.  A key enabling element here in my view is some base level of agreement on how each area should be measured and standard metrics for each.  It will take significant cooperation between industry groups, vendors, agencies and major customers/clients for cross-discipline standardization to move forward effectively.  We are at the beginning of this movement in 2011.  By 2020, it will be fascinating to look back and see how all this plays out.

When looking ahead to 2020, I am reminded of a measurement discussion pulled together by PRWeek a couple of years ago.  Many of the Measurati attended.  In response to a question of where measurement will be in five years, David Rockland replied (paraphrasing here), ‘Who knows?  Five years ago who would have guessed we would all be focused on how to measure social media?’  So, there is a certain fantasy element to discussing 2020 challenges in measurement.  What are your measurement fantasies?

How Much Does a House Cost?

8 Nov

I don’t come from the “there are no dumb questions” school.  For example, in an academic environment, I would define a ‘dumb question’ as one in which the answer should be easily known had the student read the assignment or attended the previous class.  There are a lot of dumb questions asked all the time and social media gets more than its share of these.  Many of them are specific to social media measurement/ROI.  For example:

  • Which has higher ROI, Twitter or Facebook?
  • What ROI should I expect from Twitter?
  • How do I measure the ROI of social media?

The flip answer to all these questions is, it depends.  All results are contextual.  Results are also specific.  While industry averages may be interesting, averages mask any real meaning for an individual brand or company.  They result in ‘one size fits none’ thinking.  Let’s go back to our house analogy and bring this to life.  The cost of a house depends on several factors:

  • Where is the house located?  You’ll need to know the city and the specific neighborhood.  You may also want to know which block the house is on within a given neighborhood.
  • How large is the house in terms of square feet?
  • How large is the lot?
  • Is the house new or previously owned?
  • In what condition is the house?
  • What is the level of finish-out?  For example, granite versus tile countertops.  High-end appliances or mid-range?
  • What are the desirable or unique features of the house?

In social media measurement we have our own list of questions to ask before attempting to answer generally stated questions about measurement and ROI:

  • What brand/company are we speaking about?  The answers for a well-established cult brand will be very different from those of a less well-established brand.  Answers for eCommerce companies will vary from those of B2B companies.  Answers will also vary by industry segment.
  • How long has the brand/company been participating in social networks?
  • How much investment in social media marketing – time and money – has the brand/company made?  What has been the level of effort?
  • What other communications channels (e.g. advertising, direct, search, public relations) are being utilized in parallel with social marketing?
  • What is our point of view on the role of social media in the marketing mix?  For example, is the role of social media primarily to drive exposure to content or is the program or initiative designed to drive conversion events through social channels?
  • What were/are the specific objectives of the program or initiative?

This last question is especially important because measurement is fundamentally about assessing performance against stated objectives.  When someone asks you how to measure something in social media your first response should always be this question – What were the specific objectives of the program or initiative?

The question of when to expect a return on social media efforts is also an interesting one.  Brands often expect an immediate ROI on social media efforts.  Social media marketing is a process not an event.  Too often people forget about the ‘I’ aspect of ROI – you usually have to make an investment in resources and time before you can drive a return.  It is wise to listen to social conversations before engaging, and build your presence and trust before trying to drive conversion events.  Listen and learn and then convert.  I would argue the majority of social media efforts today are likely in the investment phase and not the return phase.  It is somewhat unfair in these cases for the social media effort to be held to an ROI standard in the short-term.  Measuring impact rather than ROI is advised.  Perhaps we can add another question to our list of dumb social media ROI questions – ‘What ROI should we expect in the first year of our social media initiative?’

If you are one of the prescient humans who has a crystal ball that enables you to answer the ‘how much does a house cost’ question, I have another question for you, ‘how long is a string?’

You Coming to BlogWorld? Let’s Talk Social Media ROI.

13 Oct

I hope to see many of you at BlogWorld later this week.  It will be great to finally meet the many online friends I have who will be speaking or attending.  Please make a point to DM me (@Donbart) or email me (don.bartholomew@fleishman.com) if you have a few minutes to meet and talk at the show.

On Friday October 15, as part of the Social Media Business Summit, I will be on a panel speaking about social media ROI with David Alston of Radian6, Connie Bensen of Alterian and Ken Burbary of Ernst & Young.  Ken has the formidable task of being our moderator.  Here are the specifics:

Panel: Social Media & ROI

Date: Friday October 15

Time: 2:45 – 3:45

Room: Islander V3

If you cannot attend the show, you can follow along with the hashtag #BWE10.  There will probably be a few hundred folks live-tweeting the event, including me.

Safe travels.  -Don B

Social Media ROI Twitterchat

1 Sep

Yesterday I was the guest on Shonali Burke’s #measurepr twitterchat.  The subject was Social Media ROI.  The conversation was lively and engaging.  I found it exciting and stimulating, and appreciate Shonali letting me share with all of you.  Shonali did a great wrap-up of the session on her Waxing Unlyrical blog.  You can read it here. You can also download a transcript of the chat here:  #measurepr transcript 8.31

Shonali was kind enough to invite me back for another round.  So please join us for Social Media ROI Round II.  The date is September 14.  The time is 12:00 – 1:00PM (Eastern).  DM Shonali (@Shonali) or shoot her an email if you have a question you would like us to address.  You can sign-up for the chat here, or just join us on the 14th. using #measurepr.  Hope you can join us!  – @Donbart

The Difference Between Value and ROI

12 Jun

Social media and public relations programs create value and in some cases generate demonstrable ROI.  The two concepts are different in important ways.  They are related like the rectangle and the square.  Remember that silly distinction you learned in elementary school?  A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square.  ROI is a form of value, but not all value takes the form of ROI.

ROI is a financial metric – percentage of dollars returned for a given investment/cost.  The dollars may be revenue generated, dollars saved or spending avoided.  ROI is transactional.  ROI lives on the income statement in business terms.

Value is created when people become aware of us, engage with our content or brand ambassadors, are influenced by this engagement, and take some action like recommending to a friend or buying our product.  Value creation occurs over time, not at a point in time.  Value creation is process-oriented.  Value lives on the balance sheet.

From a sales process perspective, the ultimate value of a social media program may be in Cash_registerincreasing the number of people who are likely to buy our products and services.  Other programs may be designed to improve or protect corporate reputation or to build and enhance brands.  Much of this value is said to be intangible.  It is goodwill that becomes tangible at the point in time a transaction occurs.   When buying decisions happen, your investments in marketing, brand and reputation work together.  They become tangible.  You can measure the ROI.

Many of the well-intentioned but misguided attempts to rename or reinvent what ROI means in social media – return on influence and return on engagement probably getting the most play – seem to be the result of an inability to distinguish value creation from ROI.  We know social networks hpiggy-websaveave the ability to create value through customer engagement and community building.  However, ROI can only be measured by their ultimate impact on downstream metrics like sales, employee retention and customer loyalty/repeat purchase.

Your investments in social media or public relations remain an investment, creating additional value if done correctly, until which time they can be linked to a business outcome transaction that results in ROI.

Trying to get, keep or increase your budget for social tools, people and programs?   Estimate ROI where you can, but also try to articulate the value your programs will be creating, and how this value aligns with, and contributes toward achieving one or more desired business outcomes.  Propose metrics to track and assess progress in exposure, engagement and audience influence.  This is a better conversation to have than, “Let me tell you about Return on Influence…”

Make sense?

Five Things You Should Know About Social Media ROI

8 Jun

In a January post of 2009 social media predictions I wrote:

2009 will be the year when the pendulum swings from experimentation to accountability.  2009 will raise the bar on all of use to demonstrate how social media and PR programs are helping to drive desired business outcomes.

Are you are seeing the accountability bar being raised this year?  In my corner of the world, the volume of conversation about social media ROI is high and accelerating. Unfortunately much of the conversation has been misinformed and misguided.  It seems like every week brings another post attempting to reinvent the acronym or the meaning – ROI really means Return on Influence, or Return on Engagement is the new ROI, and on and on.  There is another group of online Zen Masters who would have you believe social media ROI is old school thinking and not in tune with social media Zeitgeist.   In that case, I’ll take’ Old School’ for $100, please.

Here are five things about social media ROI you should know:

  1. Return on Investment is a financial metric.  It tells the percentage of financial return you generated for a given investment level.  The financial return is usually revenue, butdollar-sign.jpg (JPEG Image, 520x731 pixels) - Scaled (85%) may also be money you saved by making the investment or money you avoided spending in the future.   Notice the common thread here – its about money.
  2. Attempts to reinvent the acronym are counterproductive.   Return on Influence/ Engagement/Whatever; do not ever get to the basic money question.  Most of these attempts share two characteristics – they are confusing ‘return’ with impact/results (read Olivier Blanchard’s The BrandBuilder Blog for more on Impact/Return confusion), and/or they are making an argument that social media ROI is largely intangible, represented by relationships, engagement and community.   What they are really saying, perhaps unintentionally, is ROI is often difficult to determine and I really don’t understand it.  In my opinion, attempts to reinvent or circumvent ROI discussion in social media actually hurt credibility with the people writing the checks.  They expect an apples-to-apples – money in and money out – discussion.
  3. ROI in social media has a time dimension.  Value may be created in the short-term and longer-term.  Social media-specific promotions are an example of easily measuredsand.jpg (JPEG Image, 300x400 pixels) short-term ROI.  Longer-term value is much more difficult to quantify.  There are some similarities between social media and brand in this regard.  Success in each is a process and not an event.  You generally will have ongoing activities that sustain the brand/social media program and brand building events or campaigns that provide short-term spikes in awareness and engagement.  Contribution to organic search results is another example of longer-term value creation with branding and social media efforts.   Managing and measuring your social media effort properly requires thinking about the value you are creating in the short and longer-term.
  4. Linkage and correlations are important.  In order to demonstrate ROI in social media it is necessary to link the results seen in social media with the relevant business processes they are addressing.  For example, in a B2B company, you might try to link social media efforts with the lead generation and closure process.  For a program aimed at empchain-links.jpg (JPEG Image, 245x328 pixels)loyee engagement, you might link social media efforts to the employee recruitment and retention business process.  For an eCommerce company you might be able to directly link to the sales process through unique URLs or click-tracking technologies.  When attempting to show statistical relationships, correlations become important.  We might try to correlate social media brand engagement and audience influence with metrics like likelihood to recommend to a friend, likelihood to seriously consider the product or likelihood to purchase the product in the next X months.
  5. All ROI studies are custom.  The simple fact is you cannot buy an off-the-shelf solution to calculate the ROI of your social media effort.  All ROI studies are custom.  This is primarily a reflection of the unique objectives each company may have for their social media efforts.  Objectives are specific and contextual, and your ROI measurement efforts will need to be as well.   Attempts to develop ROI Calculators where you simply plug in several numbers and hit a button to calculate your ROI are not worth the time it takes to plug in the data.  They are a one-size fits none approach to ROI.  (Read this brilliant and very humorous post by The Brand Builder where he methodically skewers a recent ROI calculator attempt).

We are in the very early stages in our ability to measure the ROI of social media.  Not enough cycles yet.  Case studies are limited but growing.  The need to demonstrate a financial return on social media investment, if not here already, will be here shortly.  We have a lot of work to do.  Let’s get started.

Measuring Influence in Social Media

4 Jun

Every week there are multiple articles and posts on measuring Influence in social media.  The vast majority of these focus on assessing who are the ‘Influencers’ – those analysts, pundits, micro-celebrities and visionaries whose words and actions influence others in their online communities.  Influencers are an important element of your audience targeting strategy.  (Here’s a great post from Todd DeFren on audiences and influencers).

Influencers are a potential social media strategy, but we should measure social media objectives to determine whether or not programs are working as planned.  For that we have to turn to the other type of online influence, audience influence.

With audience influence, we want to understand what influence, if any, our social media efforts have had on audience opinions, attitudes and behaviors.  Here’s a social media measurement model that shows where audience Influence fits with the other major measurement stages, Exposure, Engagement and Action.

Social Media Model.pptx

  • Exposure – to what degree have we created exposure to content and message?
  • Engagement – who, how and where are people interacting/engaging with our content?
  • Influence – the degree to which exposure and engagement have influenced perceptions and attitudes
  • Action – as a result of the social media effort, what actions if any has the target taken?”

In the model, successful relationships with Influencers would be represented as an aspect of Engagement – i.e. Influencers have the ability to influence if and how consumers engage with brands.

To measure audience influence typically requires primary research to quantify attitudes and opinions and to assess the role, if any, social media efforts had in any attitudinal changes and subsequent behavior.  Once we understand how Exposure and Engagement are impacting Influence, and whether or not Influence is motivating Action, we are well on our way to the understanding and data necessary to demonstrate the true ROI generated by social media.

In summary, determining who has influence should be part of your audience targeting strategy, determining whether or not you are creating audience influence should be part of your measurement strategy.

See it a different way?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 169 other followers