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Social Media Metrics: Easier Than That First Metric System

by James Ball on January 18, 2010

In social media, the ability to measure results and adapt strategies according to sound metrics is what will separate the pack this year. The smoke has cleared and the hype has calmed…this is serious business. If you want to be viable and competitive, you’ll need a good yardstick.

Social media marketing is about business, and competition is still a factor. In your industry, especially on a local level, the company who shines the brightest across social media channels WILL have the competitive edge. Are you doing things that are markedly different and better than your competitors? How exactly, do you know this? Are you able to explain how you are monitoring your own efforts and those of your competition? Do you have a clear picture of what’s working (for them as well as for yourself) and what is not?

*Note: For the record, I’m not saying that social media in and of itself is about competition. It is about how well you can be yourself, represent your brand, and effectively broadcast this in order to build and engage a community. Competition is alive and well in this space, even more so in local “territories”.  We are all vying for the attention of our target audience. The more attention we can draw, the less there is available for our competitor. That’s real enough isn’t it?

“…learn instead what activists and marketers have known all along: Attention is the scarcest resource of all.” – Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in Trust Agents

Measurement Matters

It already seems that 2010 will be remembered for the shift toward the practice of measurement, analytics, and determining ROI of social media marketing. It would be far too shallow to simply say that “everybody’s going to be doing it”, and therefore so should you. I think that the reality is that those that take measurement seriously this year will fare (read: survive) much better than those who don’t.

Consider this quote from the Dec. 11th ReadWriteWeb article: 10 Ways Social Media Will Change In 2010:

“Return on investment on social media activities has been challenging to most companies this year. Surveys show only 18% of companies say they saw meaningful return on investment from their social media activities while the other 72% report modest, no return or inability to measure the return on their investment in social media. While the definition of ROI is evolving to better fit the world of relationships and networks, the ability to demonstrate ROI in hard numbers — not in followers or fans — will become a baseline business requirement in 2010. Already, both traditional firms and startups are working feverishly to demonstrate they can turn hype into science. But, only those companies who will be able to analyze and predict hard returns on investments will last.”

Identifying a return on investment (ROI) from a specific marketing effort can be difficult at best. Most in business have adopted some methodology or formula that enables them to chart and document their results as they are received. This is how we decide what works and what doesn’t. It’s this documented information that is looked at and considered as we plan our next steps; where we spend our time and money in order to more effectively market ourselves.  Social media marketing commands the same attention and considerations.

It’s truly not about the number of Twitter followers you have, how many Facebook fans you have, or how many views you get on YouTube. It’s about the goals and objectives that you set for your company. If using social media marketing is helping you to get there, or you plan for this to be the case, then measuring the steps toward these goals is what’s important. Don’t get distracted by adding math to the tools. One follower on Twitter who is influential in several local communities and organizations can do more for you than 1000 followers who are only there to promote themselves.  You can count the 1000 or engage and enable the one.

If you want to know the low-down and the how-to about measuring, metrics, ROI, and even the KPI of social media, click through the following links. Get all the way through and see if you’re not just a little excited about measurement!

Are you already using a system that’s working for you? Have you found a social media measurement “best practice” that you’re willing to share?  Leave a comment and enlighten me. This is certainly a topic that’s quickly evolving. All of the wisdom and input we can throw at this can only help.

Andrew January 19, 2010 at 1:51 am


I think that you were exactly right when you said, "You can count the 1000 or engage and enable the one." Determining returns is not about numbers alone.

That said though, even though determining social media's black-and-white ROI (simply, "this is how much it costs us to be active on the social web, this is the revenue it generates") is difficult, it is essential.

Sure it's nice be be influential, but what good is influence if it can't help you raise sales, bolster donations, etc?

Perhaps the answer to the question of bottom-line impact lies within social CRM, but more than just influence, I think revenue measurement should be our ultimate goal.

Thanks for thoughts and the great post.


James Ball January 19, 2010 at 3:09 am

Andrew, thanks for stopping by today, I’m a fan of your blog! I do think that customer relations across social channels could use much attention. Depending on things like context, I believe that the metrics that WILL be associated with CRM roles will unlock many mysteries. Nurturing a social relationship into a “customer” isn’t easy, nor is it well defined/documented as a “best practice” with accompanying metrics so far, but I see effort and progress happening! I really appreciate your comment. Stop by again soon Andrew.

Urs E. Gattiker January 20, 2010 at 11:54 am


Thanks so much for linking to our ROI post.

I have gotten to the point where I feel ROI is for the birds since it is a financial outcome that you can rarely if ever measure.
Similar to not measuring the ROI of air conditioning, it seems to make little sense to measure ROI of information security or social media.

Nevertheless, this does not mean we cannot measure the cost-benefit from social media in one way or the other. Using social media means transaction as well as opportunity costs that we must take into consideration. After accounting for those we come to the core of the matter…

Thereafter, it becomes a more qualitative assessment.
In my latest post about Twitter I wonder about benefits we get from tweeting as @ComMetrics — our clients, etc.

James, I appreciate your review of this material and I am honored that you thought our post about ROI was worth joining the great group of citations/links you used to support your points and insights. Thank you.


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