Corporations and small to medium companies are pouring money into social media. For many of these companies social media also entails a lot of time and energy. The challenge lies in measuring success. Do we look at the number of Likes and retweets or perhaps just the bottom line on sales? Memeburn takes a look at some of the key ideas in the media industry around just what success is.
The Classic Graph – anyone can create it
Clay McDaniel, managing director and co-founder of Spring Creek Group is a leading social media marketing agency based in Seattle, Washington. He argues size isn’t as important as whether your social media presence is growing over time. In the spirit of the phrase “a picture is worth more than a thousand words”, his approach is pragmatic.
McDaniel offers the “sCRM” metric as a calculated way in which any coma pony can gain insight into the value they are creating for their social media communities. This calculation also measures the size of the “captured audience” or those who have “granted you permission to receive regular messaging, deals, and content”.
sCRM = #Facebook Fans + #Twitter Followers + #blog unique users + #YouTubeChannel subscribers + #all other registered managed community members
McDaniel advises companies to collect figures from key channels, calculate weekly or monthly, save the figures in basic spreadsheet and produce sparkline graphs to depict a trend line. The graphs should look something like this:
It is one thing to know how many people saw your message. But the increasingly important question is how many actually did something with it?
According to socialmediaexaminer.com, engagement is fairly easy to manage using tools like Radian 6 and TweetEffect. “These metrics highlight who you want to retain on social media channels,” the site advises.
Digital marketing consultant Chris Lake says you should “quantify the number of times your links were clicked, your message was retweeted, and your hashtag was used and then look at how many people were responsible for the activity. You can also track @replies and direct messages if you can link them to campaign activity.”
The same methodology applies in its own way to Facebook, blogs as well as emails.
Viktorix.com says companies like Klout and PeerIndex are rising to provide the means to sense of the myriad of stats one can draw by monitoring social media impact.
“These provide you with feedback about your influence, your amplification probability, your reach and your topical profile, which you can compare openly with your competitors to see how you are performing,” says industry expert Kirsty Pitkin.
Understanding the relationship between engagement and the bottom line has been the subject of a number of scholarly articles, but like so many elements in business, a mix of common sense and savvyness can help make sense of things. The difficulty seems to face big businesses as smaller companies are usually able to monitor ups and downs in sales more accurately given there are fewer variables. The difficulty lies in the fact that quantifying the time and effort of social media in line with just how many customers can be directly attributed to the company’s own direct efforts.
Marketing strategist Samir Balwani says there is no accepted or widely adopted standards as regards measuring social media impact and whether it’s translated into money in the bank. Entrepreneurs should not be afraid of the old adage “find out what works for you”. Economist Friedrich Hayek says individuals and organizations at the micro-level are often able to make first hand everyday options on what works which bigger organizations on the outside may miss.
There are a number of free tracking tools however that are aiding the process of measurement, even if research in this area remains in its infancy. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube are amongst the more commonly sites where many still don’t take advantage of the ability to track a campaign.