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Social media measurement: what the boss cares about

Winning executive support for a trial run — selling leadership on social media — is like getting your gear ready for a long climb. Once you’ve got the buy-in to try, you’ve still got the challenge of climbing above you.

As Ashley alluded to yesterday, as part of the blog panel, measuring its effectiveness is what gets you to the top. At risk of repetitiveness, there’s one guiding principle that I find is especially well suited for PR measurement, and fits nicely with social media: “Impressions are interesting, clicks are better, sales are best.”

The PRBreakfastClub sums this up poetically: All about the Benjamins. This post also outlines a number of measures for social media, like net promoter score, for example. These measures are useful, but I don’t believe they are a fit for the purpose of selling management on social media. These measures are first ethereal, second, debatable and third, they measure influence, usually of an individual, and not effectiveness of a program.

So what to measure?

Sales. This is a challenge — no doubt about it. First, because a prospect often requires multiple “touches” and social media especially, tends to facilitate the sales cycle. There is no magic touch that closes deals, engagement takes time and effort just like it does in person, on the phone or by email. However, if you get a lead through Twitter — or any other social network — and pass it off to sales, be sure to follow up and find out the outcome. This is especially important in a pilot phase to prove the value. As your organization becomes more sophisticated, refines its internal processes, you might look at integrating a tool like Salesforce to capture leads directly from social media, and document these touch points along the cycle. Remember to listen first, sell second.

Leads. If someone asks about your business on Twitter, offer them some relevant links and step back. They asked, you answered, now let them decide what to do next. But do capture this “lead.” Take a screenshot and keep a running tab. Twitter allows you to create lists that you can keep private. LinkedIn, if the prospect chooses to connect, offers a range of tools for organizing contacts. Facebook too has features to add people to lists. Keep track of who asks about your company, because if you hadn’t been working on this trial, those questions would have gone unanswered, or worse, answered by your competition. That will resonate.

Interactions. Facebook fan pages offer a wealth of automated tools to measure interactions. Once a week, Facebook will send you an e-mail that tells you several things, including interactions. Are people engaging you? If not, is it the content, the timing, or the platform? YouTube too offers a summary of statistics including how many subscribers you have, and how many views your channel or your individual videos received. Engagements are the checkpoints on your social media climb. Interactions can be measured in a number of ways, including, but not limited to:

– Retweets on Twitter and Shares and Likes on Facebook
– Comments on blogs, Facebook and YouTube videos
– Shares such as bookmarks like Digg, Delicious or StumbleUpon
– Facebook fan page comments
– LinkedIn discussions
– Backlinks

Clicks. If you aren’t using a tool like Bit.ly to track traffic to your content you should. It’s easy, it’s free and it integrates with Twitter applications like Tweetdeck, and works well on virtually any social media platform. It’s very easy to capture how much traffic your content receives which is useful for deciding whether or not to modify your content strategy.

Fans and followers. There’s a lot of chatter to the effect — the number of Twitter followers you have doesn’t matter. This is the silliest thing I’ve heard since some so called PR measurement gurus started saying clips are not measures of success. Of course clips matter and so do followers and fans! However, save yourself some angst by placing this number in context: chart the growth of fans, followers, members and views in a spreadsheet once a week — and benchmark it against your competition. Then graph it. The visual is compelling.

Social media is easy to measure and there are, ironically, an innumerable number of metrics you can gather. You can spend all day gathering data, to which some have sighed in exasperation, “What’s the ROI of putting your pants on in the morning?”

The key here is to focus in on those metric that are going to obtain your senior leader support for an ongoing social media program — tying social media to leads and sales is your best bet for building a solid case: the summit is within reach.

This post is my final post in a blog panel discussion with Ashley Wirthlin of Public Relations Blogger, who will wrap things up tomorrow with her final post.

Previous posts in this blog panel: 
PR Responsibilities Selling Social Media
PR Responsibilities Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Media
How to get executive buy-in for social media

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How to get executive buy-in for social media

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