3 Questions to Ask – and Answer – for Measurable Social Media

by Affect Team on November 2, 2011

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Everyone wants to know exactly how to measure social media results. There are a number of ways, but here we have asked Shonali Burke, who specializes in this exact conversation, to explain what companies should be discussing when they’re talking social media measurement.

When it comes to talking about the efficacy of investing resources in social media, one of the popular comebacks that has made more than its fair share of rounds is, “What’s the ROI of your mother?”

Personally, I prefer the “what’s the ROI of pants,” a question that my friends Katie Paine and Shel Israel have had an enjoyable back and forth about on and offline.

Seeing as how I’m not nearly as smart as Katie or Shel, I’m going to suggest that, instead of equating the measurement of social media to one’s mater (yes, that’s a word for mother) or clothing, you and I lesser mortals focus on what we can actually measure.

1.    Forget about social media. What’s your overall goal?

What many people forget about, in the rush to adopt new social media tools and platforms, is why they were invented in the first place. Social media – and networks – while wonderful technologies, do one thing very effectively: they help people connect.

Remember your strategic plan? It’s ok, I’ll wait while you go dust it off. Now, in there, you probably have something about reaching your target audiences in a Citius, Altius, Fortius kind of way.

OMG. Guess what? Connecting with your target audience is what you need to do! OK, now that we’ve gotten that straight, where are they congregating?

Yup. More likely than not, in some social network or platform. But you’ll have to do your own research to figure out which one(s) exactly. There are plenty of tools to help you do this but, believe me, you’ll still have to put some elbow grease into making sense of what the tools tell you.

2.    What do you need these people to do?

I have a favorite “Burkeism” when I speak/teach/write on public relations/social media/measurement. And that is, “begin at the end.”

What are you trying to achieve? Higher sales? Lower acquisition costs? A more engaged donor base (for nonprofit organizations) that you can move into your conversion funnel for long-term donors? Whatever it is, that is what you should be connecting your social media efforts to.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not going to happen overnight.

You will still have to invest in a social media team (or consultant/agency) to manage your social media efforts, all the while building community while participating in the conversations that permeate the Interwebz. There is a definite cost to that, because even if many of the tools are free, the human resources are not.

But as you start getting more familiar, more at ease in these mediums, you need to start connecting and correlating your (or, rather, your team’s) efforts, to what, if any, impact they are having on these end-goals.

Focus on what you are trying to get people to do – the actions you want them to take – as opposed to meaningless (in my opinion) metrics such as how many followers you have, the value of a Facebook fan (a terrific read by Olivier Blanchard), etc.

3.    Did it make a difference?

This is the money question. Did your efforts make a difference to achieving your end objectives?

Did your social media efforts result in the actions you need your customer base – actual and potential – to take?

Because action is what makes our businesses tick. Whether it’s a purchase decision, or a referral, or signing up to an email list (for conversion to future customers), we need our audiences to do more than just follow, like and share.

We need them to “do” in real-world terminology. And only by tracking which tactics get more people to do, as opposed to those that don’t work, can we make our outreach programs more effective… and more measurable.

 Shonali Burke is one of 25 women that rock social media. Her business turns your corporate codswallop into community cool. She also blogs, teaches, and cooks.

{ 2 trackbacks }

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Davina K. Brewer 11.02.11 at 6:42 pm

Nice answers Shonali, and WORD to the ‘human resources not being free.’ I also think the people – smart, engaged, knowledgable – are the most valuable resources a business has. And FWIW, love the little bio at the end.

Patrick O'Keefe 11.03.11 at 12:57 am

Thanks for the mention of my article on the mother answer. :)

Patrick

Shonali Burke 11.04.11 at 4:51 pm

Patrick, you’re so welcome!

Davina – I’ve been working hard on that bio. Who knew it would take so long to come up with a short package that can pack a punch? :p Thank you for stopping by!

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