Saturday, August 14, 2010

How To Measure Your Social Media Efforts

Social Media efforts like any other marketing effort requires that it be measured, monitored and be accountable. This is simple business practice not restricted and not limited by marketing efforts alone. Typically in business terminology called Return On Investments or ROI.

It is certain that while Social Media is easily available and can be networked with, it still does require investment, skill and thorough knowledge. These investment at minimal level would be time, energy, technology [hardware, software the web and internet connectivity], dedicated human resource. Add to this just like any other marketing campaign we will require objectives and KPIs Key Process Indicators as well.

There is lot of research and discussion going on in the area of 'how to arrive at a ROI for Social Media'. There are two unique groups at the two ends of a spectrum. One group profess that Social Media has not as yet reached the stage of measurement and the other group states that Social Media can be measured. What is your take on this? Can Social Media be measured - as yet?

What we need to understand is that while we do measure the Social Media space we need to be very clear on what the parameters are to be. Naturally the most upfront one is mentioning that if the objective is achieved then all other things would fall in place. Now the objective for Social Media need not always be in terms of quantifiable terms. It could be qualitative and / or quantitative. The measuring process works just like any other profit and loss system however the parameters are very very different. Add to this not only are the parameters different but the scale of these parameters are also different.

One needs to understand 'how Social Media works' before diving into a measuring chase. This is the most critical part. If one does not know, understand and comprehend how Social Media actually works, how it performs and how to go about it then one is not [with due respect] qualified to establish the measuring criteria. As you read below you will get an understanding of  this statement.  

While measuring the Social Media efforts we need to consider the below parameters. The below parameters are indications of the various factors that are to be 'considered' and 'understood' before we start to set a formula:

Time: Time is of great essence here in Social Media. At one level we need to be clear that immediate results are not every time the only correct way for measure. Social Media by its nature works on two levels one is engagement levels with the members and the SEO level. If we go a little deep both engagement and SEO get better with consistent efforts.They require the time factor to get established. For instance the positive engagement which eventually should lead to loyalty and viral effect cannot happen at once by merely setting up of a Facebook Fan Page for instance and getting people to join in. To develop relevant interactions the brand and the customer set would require time. The next part is SEO. SEO work is like an investment. You consistently work on the SEO aspect while working online. The efforts put in today will reap you rewards in the near future.  

Number of followers / fans / members: This is the most sought after target. While it would be great to have a huge Fan base it is necessary that the topics we communicate is relevant to them and enhancing our brand image. It is equally essential to get them dialoguing with us and just not having a one way communication [only from us]. This means that we need to have quality and not just quantity based followers / fans / members. When our communication is engaging only then we can be sure to a large extent to have a desired response. Additionally we should remember that good quality of engagement would lead to a viral effect. Thus automatically leading to increase in membership which is relevant to us and to whom we are relevant and bring value into their lives. This leads us onto 3 aspects namely:
Quantity [number of members]
Quality [right members that are relevant to brand]
Engagement Level [level of interaction and involvement]

For those who would be satisfied with numbers there is still a way out: Hence instead of the typical, usual number game how about using parameters like:
How many customers asked for more information
How many have been retained for over three months as your Tweeter followers
How many come to your main site / main blog
What was the conversion taking place in terms of sales
Number of features that the customers suggested and how many have we managed to implement
Number of hours in a week when we have interacted with the customers and created a result
Number of new qualitative customers
How many qualitative customers are being retained over three months
Number of repeat customers [same customer interacting intensely and participating more]
Number of viral effects that have taken place
Reduction in support costs
Number of new things that we discovered as consumer insight
Increase in Page Rank
Number of redemption taking place [if at all there is redemption coupon made available]
Number of back-links that you receive [qualitative back-links not just quantitative]

Add to this be sure to measure the qualitative aspect in terms of:
Satisfaction
Loyalty [retention and viral effect]
Engagement
Feedback

So it could be the mix of qualitative and quantitative matrix.

Add to all of the above factors is constant improvement. Having set the parameters we need to consistently check with reality of out individual case. Many a times we may set a lot of parameters that will not really make sense to an individual case for measuring. The parameters need to be in-sync with the feasibility of there being an output in terms of the brand, customer set, competition and category. It is not the case of same parameters fit all.

So we need to be very clear on how we want to measure the success of a Social Media Network Campaign.

What are your thoughts? Do join in.