social media: Metrics to know and metrics to skip FAQ #2

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/07/26 · 1 comment 1 views

in d business SME

    So while a newspaper or magazine may increase readership of a particular issue with popular rankings (e.g., US News & World Report – annual college rankings) most important is that more printed copies are being sold on the newstand. Of course, this increases revenue.
    Get the inside story – I discuss how marketing metrics can make a difference for your social marketing efforts.

Previously I addressed some of the issues that must be addressed when trying to establish the metrics needed to assess if your blogging or social marketing efforts are a success or not:

    Tip 1 – choose your metrics carefully and then stick with them – it takes time to succeed
    Tip 2 – don’t wait to measure ‘conversation’ for your blog – the accepted metric to do this properly will not be here next month

I explained this here: social media – metrics to know and metrics to skip – FAQ #1

So now you have chosen your metrics carefully (tip 1) and figured out that measuring conversation as far as your blog is concerned might be a bit difficult. But where does this leave you?

Unfortunately, things do not get easier from here. Below, I outline some additional issues you must master in order to use metrics that make sense for your purpose(s).

3) What do you want to know?

Recently, influence in social media has become a buzzword that many suggest they can measure and even more bloggers and corporate clients want to measure.

In this context, we should maybe ask ourselves four questions, namely:

a) are influencers impacted by social media usage of clients, vendors, and media;
b) can influencers get others to listen and, in turn, increase your sales;
c) how will all this affect the bottom line, and finally
d) should I focus on brand building instead of trying to quantify the ROI of my social media or social marketing efforts?

Naturally, addressing the above as a Fortune 500 is a bit different from a micro enterprise with maybe eight employees using social media.

Influencing people means that besides wanting them to notice what you do, you want readers or clients to change their minds and, ultimately, make a purchase or adopt your philosophy as their own (i.e. vote for you as the candidate, become more careful about their household’s carbon footprint, and so on).

three metrics – influence, impact and outcome

So what kind of outcome measure does the job best for you? If you are a Fortune 500 corporate blogger, asking how well you do regarding:


might be a good start indeed. However, as a micro enterprise, it means measuring success by the kilogram rather than the ton.

Regardless what you decide, will this help in making your firm’s cash register ring? Because you had an impact and influenced your blog or book’s readers, will they consider hiring your firm for the next job? Alternatively, will they take all this and go down the street to the other car dealer in town to purchase a gas-guzzler?

The recommendations made in the blog post linked to below are most certainly interesting. Nevertheless, do they matter to your enterprise with 50 people or your department with 300 employees within the larger firm?

Blog Metrics: Six Recommendations for Measuring Your Success

I am not sure; in fact, I doubt that these suggestions make a real difference. So what are you supposed to do? Glad you asked.

Tip 3 – focus on outcome the rest is just fluff – figure out what outcome measures you want to focus on and yes, quantitative measures might not always give you the insight you want.

As Katie Paine said it best in a comment, she wrote on our blog here, namely:

“It’s not about the data, it’s about the outcomes and learning from the data what works and what doesn’t work.”

I fully concur. Nonetheless, before you decide which outcome to measure (e.g., unique visitors, Google PageRank or whatever), figure out what you will do with the information.

4) What are you going to do with the data you get?

Paul Dunay provides us with a great entry into this difficult challenge by writing:

I still feel there is only one metric that counts – SALES. Ringing the cash register is the best if not the only way to prove marketing value (as I have told you in the past). And our lead nurturing platform has been immensely helpful in giving transparency into that process and showing that value.

Unfortunately, an entry or page on Facebook might not be linked easily with an improvement of web site impressions you experience. Neither will frequency of blog posts necessarily be related to what percentage of people filled out a form. Neither will ABB’s marketing and sales efforts be helped with such measure when trying to sell a power plant equipment next time around to Escom, the South African utility company.

What we have learned is that blogging can help increase your visibility and reputation you get as an expert in your field. In turn, this might get you invited to bid for a contract. We win about 25% of public contracts we compete for. Fortunately, this percentage is higher for those contracts we submit a tender to private companies. Therefore, we could get the idea to test if an increase in the number of blog posts made each week could change these percentages positively. In other words, could this have any impact on the chances of us being more successful with our tenders submitted to government agencies?

Put differently, if I increase unique visitors by 30 percent or more each month it might provide me with additional data and such data is great to have. Nevertheless, how does having an ever greater number of unique visitors help build my brand (e.g., ComMetrics or CyTRAP Labs) or more interestingly, ring my cash register?

Before you decide what outcome, you want to measure under Tip 3, try to be clear what kind of decision will be based on these data. Unless you use your unique visitor numbers or web site impressions to make decisions that are linked to outcomes – your cash register, for instance, why collect such data?

Tip 4 – focus on two outcome metrics that you will act on – this means that unless you will use this information to make a decision that is important to you, don’t worry about it. Put different, looking at the Google PageRank or the Technorati Authority score may make you proud but does it make a difference to the bottom line? What decision will it trigger if your ranking drops, any and is it important to your brand?

Bottom Line

If you cannot understand it, do not measure it. Moreover, there are two critical questions you have to ask yourself when trying to measure your social marketing activities, namely:

1. What do you want to know? Identify the metrics that have a significant impact on the bottom line – focus on outcome.

2. What are you going to do with data obtained? Get data that will be used to make a decision and ignore the rest.

What is your take on this issue?

Please check out:
follow us on Twitter blogging for the bottom line – metrics that work CEO bloggers – ropes to skip – FAQs
be the first to know – subscribe corporate blogging – case studies – failures and successes Financial Times – is blogging good value?

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