If you aren’t measuring social analytics, you’re just operating on intuition.
That’s what Adele McAlear told the group attending a gathering of IABC/Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators. Adele is Director of Operations for Measurement & Analytics at Edelman Digital’s Montreal office, heading up a team that provides social insights and measurement to help guide business decisions.
Some reasons for measuring social analytics include reducing risk, proving or disproving your work and improving results. But there’s always a hard reason behind everything you do, which generally comes down to one of two things:
- Reducing costs.
- Generating revenue.
Calling social analytics the “starting point for engagement,” Adele pointed out that we’re tracking conversations on the web and “trying to move the needle.” To those who say social media can’t be measured, Adele noted that “If it changes, you can measure it, and if it doesn’t change, why are you wasting your effort?”
Adele ran through five steps to measuring social analytics:
1. Define your objectives.
What changes do you want to make? Be specific, and more than just “awareness.” Push for a goal, whether it’s selling your product or changing perceptions. “There are ways to measure social media, but it’s not ROI [return on investment],” Adele stressed. “What does success mean to you? Is it increasing customers, increasing repeat purchases, streamlining customer service? Measure THAT.”
2. Establish benchmarks.
Do an audit to review where you are online. How do people talk about you? Your competitors? How far have you come? Use Google Insights to see how people are searching and finding you — it’s the difference between a company saying “mobile device” and most people saying “cellphone.” Pick something to measure and stick with it. Look for patterns. Always benchmark at the beginning and end of campaigns or promotions.
3. Set key performance indicators.
A small business owner with a goal of gaining new clients will want to measure the various ways prospective clients can move along that path. Companies might want to measure a shift in sentiment or conversation topics.
4. Report on results.
Track your output (blog posts, tweets, press releases, events, etc.) and look for reaction, comments, brand mentions, click-throughs, web visits, likes, sales revenue. What are people reacting to? Isolate the peaks and valleys and find catalysts, such as a price drop or YouTube video. Look for positive, neutral or negative sentiments and correlations between sentiment and the market segment important to you.
Free measurement tools include BlogLevel, BlogGradr, Facebook Insights, Google Insights, TweetLevel and Twitalyzer. Paid tools (although check for free trials) include Crimson Hexagon, Radian6, Simply Measured and Sysomos. Whatever your tools, learn to love Excel, because you’ll track most information in a spreadsheet.
5. Use insights from the data you’ve gathered to structure future objectives and strategy, and then “rinse and repeat.”
While the whole process may seem daunting, Adele encouraged the group to “Figure out what you want to achieve, and start small and try a few things.”
Pencil and measure photo credit thanks to Paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Thanks Sue! I was really interested in that topic and sorry I had to miss the event. The definition of success IS personal. There is no one-size-fits-all benchmark, or indicator, or measurement tool. I wonder how many people really consider the “why” behind their social media efforts. Thanks again.
Perfect synopsis, Sue. Thank you.
Thanks for commenting, ladies! Patricia, I hope you and Excel are starting to get chummy. 🙂
“There are ways to measure success in social media but it’s not ROI.” This is the crux of the matter. Yes, but if there is no ROI, what is the point? If you have terrifically high numbers but it’s not bringing in more revenue, aren’t you just good at your hobby? This is a real problem.
Gloria, you’re right, it’s NOT terrifically high numbers, because those in themselves do not necessarily bring in more revenue. You can have 3,000 followers on Twitter, but if they don’t contribute to your goals, it might as well be 300 or three. You want to know things like did your tweet or blog post prompt click-throughs that led to more subscribers, for instance. It all comes down to figuring out what success means to you, and how to measure that.
I agree. And isn’t that ROI?