Like all new emerging media, there is always a hype period where companies jump in with a less strategic plan based on “getting in the game” more so than a tight integrated plan. This is natural. We all learn this way. What is interesting is that according to marketingsherpa, marketers move from a trial phase (phase 1) of social media to a more strategic phase (phase 3). The top 5 criteria of measurements didn’t change, but the % of focus on the areas have. For the 3rd phase of Social Strategies they report the shift of focus as so:
1. Increase Website Traffic – 88%
2. Increase Lead Generation – 75%
3. Increase Sales Revenue – 71%
4. Increase Search Engine Rankings – 69%
5. Increase product/Brand Awareness – 54%
6. Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs – 45%
7. Improve Public Relations – 44%
8. Improve Customer Support Quality – 36%
9. Reduce Customer Support Costs – 32%
Ironically the bottom 2 relates to customer service. (customer support quality at 36% and customer support costs at 32%). The irony here is that the benefit that social gives us is access and support to information that enables us to make decisions whether it is advice, product purchases, or a job. Sears.com (as well as amazon) has done a very good job integrating customer conversations and advice surrounding any of their products. And the conversations are real both negative and positive.
The challenge here is that those types of benefits are somewhat intangible to measure. Customer service, feeling about your organization takes time to survey and align to your social strategies. But there are ways to do that and you simply have to commit to those objectives upfront. Website traffic, Lead Generation, Sales Revenue have tangible data that can be spit out and thrown into charts. But be aware of the limitations those numbers give you.
There are 3 fundamental categories that go into measuring social:
1. Awareness – Who is talking about you?
2. Influence – What are they saying about you? (negative/positive/perceptions and attitudes towards you)
3. Action – What are they doing that will affect your business?
The point is that social is multifaceted. It affects multiple components of your marketing strategy and relies on an integrated plan. It cannot be judged by just one category. Each category tells a story so you shouldn’t judge the entire campaign on one category producing less than the desired results.
If you are about to embark on a social strategy, or are in the middle of one, check back to your objectives to make sure you know how you are measuring, but also what is social going to give you.