Measuring Social Engagement…My Two Cents

February 8, 2012
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Written by Ted Rubin

I believe many are looking at this in too narrow a fashion. Everyone is trying to assign a dollar value to a Facebook fan or Twitter follower instead of addressing the fact that engagement and interaction that takes place in these mediums are incredibly important to a brand. They build relationships, create an emotional connection and therefore lead to Return on Relationship™… simply put, the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through connection, loyalty, recommendations and sharing.

The mistakes I see being made is trying to measure social engagement with the same tools we measure every other digital touch point. In my view email, search, even banner ads, have spoiled marketers into thinking everything can be and must be measured with the same metrics used to gauge success in other mediums. Initially as you are building your Social Media audiences, and testing, I have three stages with which I measure… #1 is Audience growth, #2 is Reactivity… getting them to take an action, and #3 Stickiness… keeping them coming back, engaged and interacting.

In addition, setting expectations is important for the future. Setting goals for number of followers/fans and how you interact and engage with them, and them with you can be very useful. Growth of your audience is very important as clearly outlined in the study by research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey… Consumers Engaged Via Social Media Are More Likely To Buy, Recommend, and their follow-up report… 10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior on Twitter.

Five reasons corporations are not using Social Media effectively…

  1. They don’t talk about anything broader than their own products.
  2. They listen to customers but don’t take any action (which means they aren’t really hearing).
  3. Companies can’t expect to have a strong social media presence when social sites are blocked internally to employees.
  4. There is a fear that exists about jumping in, but while there have certainly been some hiccups and miscues along the way, social media has yet to be the undoing of any company.
  5. When employees are more concerned with what’s in or out of their job description than doing the right thing to help the customer, that’s not a culture that’s likely to build trust and advocacy for a brand and there is no way social media efforts can be effective.

Many people are finally realizing that social media is serious business. Not “serious” as in stuffy, fun-resistant, and devoid of personality, but “serious” as in something that is of great value to our companies and needs to be treated as such.

So of course, Metrics are incredibly important… what are the numbers we’re aiming for? What will tell us if it (the implementation and use of the tool / process) was a success? How will we get that information and make sense of it in a way that can inform our business strategy? These same questions – plus a few new ones — need to be asked as we begin taking social media integration seriously in our businesses and marketing strategies.

Defining metrics around social media advertising and marketing campaigns has been challenging enough that for a while many people said, “it simply could not be done.” Now, however, we are learning that social media measurement (re: use and impact) IS possible – just not always using traditional metrics and methodologies.

One of the most important new ways to establish social media metrics is to set “conditions of satisfaction.” In other words, what are the specific outcomes that will bring satisfaction to you, your brand, your business, and your customers? Notice how the word “satisfaction” here requires you to think not just about actions, but about the whole experience resulting from the outcomes. This is absolutely critical for successful social branding!

It is crucially important to set conditions of satisfaction in this emerging world of social media where standard metrics may or may not apply. Social media marketing campaigns need to be built on relationships, and metrics include words like “trust” and “engage” and “authentic conversation” and “online reputation” – all things that are at the heart of what a brand/company wants and needs … and all things that can be defined by setting up conditions of satisfaction.

Conditions of satisfaction around social media need to be different for every organization. They need to be based on the each company’s specific and unique GOALS, VISION and VALUES to ensure that the information gathered can strategically inform the marketers and the C-level Suite. Aligning your conditions of satisfaction with the heart of the company gives you the blueprint for plans that will go far in creating a genuine brand, and brand experience that connects with your customers.

Bottom line: Metrics matter and social media for business gets no exception. 

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