Sunday, January 27, 2013

12 Ways to Measure & Monitor Social Media

There is a management adage that says that you can’t manage if you don’t measure. 

Social media marketing is the biggest thing to hit marketing since it was invented. Marketing textbooks are being hastily revised as you read this. Undergraduate courses and graduate programs are all undergoing rapid change, because of what is happening in the world of social media.
The old marketing world is changing almost as fast as if you’d put a stick of dynamite under it.
One of the things that is happening is the way that marketing is now becoming pervasive throughout organisations. Everyone needs to think with a marketing hat on if they are getting involved in social media.
An understanding of what is word-of-mouth marketing, where people tell each other about your products/services, and what is viral marketing, where lots of people tell loads of other people about something, is spreading. Marketing is coming out of the stuffy office and getting involved in the real world.
One of the other aspects of marketing that is also changing, is the things that you will measure. Social media monitoring is taking its place among the key performance indicators and dashboard metrics that have pervaded modern management.
If you are looking to decide what to include in your measurement systems here are some suggestions:
1.       Sentiment analysis – how many negative comments and positive comments are there on social media platforms about you or your service - in actual and percentage terms. Keeping a track on this, and all mentions of you on the most likely social media platforms, is the most basic action all organisations should take. Not knowing what is being said about you, when that information is readily available, might almost be considered irresponsible.
2.       Tone – on a 3 or 5 or 7 point scale, of how enthusiastic/couldn't care/disgusted posters are. This is not a perfect art, but you can get data on key themes in the tone of comments.
3.     Influencers – the numbers of high "follower ratio" followers you have & their engagement levels with you. Having a lot of influencers is good, but it is better if you are engaging with them. Natural engagement will come when you first make contact, when you post and when you are retweeted.
4.      Demographics – traditional measures of geographic, age, sex, status, interests of your followers. It is useful to know who your followers are, where they are from and all the other pieces of demographic information. You will be better able to decide what to say, when you know who you are talking to.
5.         Sub communities – number and types of sub communities spawning around your main social media presence. If you make cakes these could be chocolate cake lovers, gluten free users etc. Sub communities will require separate conversations and talking points, and they do have to be re-assessed as your community builds.
6.       Base statistics on follower numbers, unfollower numbers, re-tweets, messages, posts for each platform, including smaller/up and coming platforms such as Pinterest/Flickr, forums, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine, specialist blogs, etc, depending on which you focus on. These stats are not the most important things in social media, but they are good for people with a competitive instinct. If social media is to deliver what you want and you have only ten followers, who are all dedicated evangelists for you, than that is a success to me. Quality trumps quantity on social media, like in most things.
7.        New markets, new trends, new topics emerging from conversations with customers and prospective customers. You may pick these up instinctively or you may list these in a structured way.
8.         Competitor activity, sentiment & other key metrics for your competitors. Incredibly, you can do much of the same analysis for your competitors as well. This is a period of unprecedented openness in social media where we can all see what our competitors are up to on Twitter and Pinterest and many of the other major sites. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
9.       Theme clouds – what are the key topics, popular words and phrases that are bubbling up and falling away among key communities. These can be tracked on a regular or irregular basis and placed in lists or theme clouds.
10.      Keyword tracking – do you have key words? How are they doing? Are you tracking raw numbers and patterns of change? If you are using key words you may want to check what your competitors are doing and what other people you would like to emulate are doing on keywords too. Key words are part of your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. SEO is a world of technical website marketing in three little letters.
11.       Internal benchmarking – How are internal divisions/branches doing compared to each other on key metrics? How are things changing over time? Most of the above key metrics can be done for divisions within your organisation, as well as for the organisation itself. Comparisons between divisions can be useful if they highlight laggards who could be using social media and who aren’t.
12.      External benchmarking - How do your stats compare with peers, competitors? Social media sites occasionally throw up useful data on case studies of how people are doing on social media. These can be particularly useful if you still have people in your organisation who are not on board with your social media strategy,
The above are 12 key metrics. I am sure you won’t need to develop “target scores” in all of these areas, but the above should give you plenty of food for thought when it comes to picking the key metrics that you will report on.
But it’s not just reporting you should be thinking about when you develop your metrics. You should also be thinking about return on investment (ROI). If you are investing considerable sums in social media you need to see where you are getting the best return. The above metrics will help you assess that.
ROI analysis should be considered carefully for social media. ROI analysis was originally developed for the financial services industry and has some key components. Financial analysts use formula for deciding what the ROI is for any given investment.
These formulas require you to decide what is the initial value of the investment, what the period of the investment will be, and what the final value of the investment will be.
The final value calculation is always the trickiest one. That value can be calculated at the end of the period or estimated in advance. When an estimate is used the final outcome can be compared against the estimate after the period is over.
An investment of 100 which achieves a return of 150 is rated as a 50% yield or return in the given period.
If you can achieve that you will be doing very well. If you achieve less, consider whether the period of investment should be extended. If you continued investing you could end up with the required yield. In some cases firms invest for many years in areas of opportunity before achieving a target return. The question is always; who decides how long you will invest for.
And on that discussion point many boardroom bust ups take place! If someone says you must pay back your investment in social media in year one, then be wary that they are expecting too quick a return.
Did the first people to install telephones in offices have similar ROI struggles, I wonder? I am sure they did in some places. The dinosaur home for instance.     

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