How is it possible that with 2013 only 3 weeks old I’m already behind schedule? I’d hoped to open 2013 with my resolutions blog (check), finishing up the strategy series (check), and then doing a recap of all of 2012 writings to highlight favorite pieces and revisit some of the thinking (un-check). Perhaps I should have tackled that in December, but somehow the holidays just got in the way. I still hope to do that big recap, but before I go there, I wanted to highlight this past week’s release of our first whitepaper for 2013: Measuring and Evaluating your Social Media Effort.
In this year’s resolutions, I argued that measurement and analytics is often much less impactful than we’d hope or expect and I laid out a half-dozen things that enterprise analytics should be focused on to make measurement matter. Social media wasn’t directly on that list and plays a part only in the final item around revamping online customer research. So does it really matter?
For most Semphonic clients (large-scale, well established multi-channel enterprise), social media is not the marketing channel that matters most. It’s not where our clients spend the most money. It’s not where they put the most effort. It’s not where they get the best returns. But there are two aspects of social media that make the potential for measurement impact unusually high. First, and probably most important, is that social media efforts and techniques are still evolving and maturing rapidly. Few organizations believe that they have “figured out” social media, so the demand for and interest in measurement is very high. Second, the organization of the enterprise around social media has not coalesced in a single common model. Many enterprises haven’t decided on organization or ownership of social media functions and those that have may not have fully grasped the implications of their decisions.
So while social media may not be the biggest piece of most digital marketing programs, it may be a piece that measurement can impact dramatically.
Measuring and Evaluating your Social Media Effort provides a comprehensive view of how to think about measurement in social media and how measurement can drive not only the actual social media program but the enterprise organization around social media.
The goal of measurement, after all, is clarity. A good measurement foundation for social media begins with a functional consideration of what social media might be used for and accomplish. These use-cases not only drive down into the actual measurement required, they drive “up” into the pieces of the organization that should own them. So creating a good measurement foundation for social media will often provide helpful clarity around organization.
That’s why Measuring and Evaluating your Social Media Effort opens with a look at the wide-range of different business functions that social media can support: from viral campaigns to customer support to brand research.
The argument here is simple. The term “social media” doesn’t capture one thing that can be packaged up in a single place in the enterprise and measured in a single way. Instead, it encompasses a wide variety of purposes, owners, measurements, and meaningful analytics. That diversity has deep implications for how your organize social media efforts across the enterprise. It's almost impossible (and usually totally mistaken), when an enterprise has a diversity of social media interests, to lodge ownership in a single place.
Given that diversity of functions, how can the enterprise approach social media measurement? In the white paper, we lay out Semphonic’s answer. It’s an answer rooted in our approach to digital measurement in general. Start with your audience. Break audience down by purpose. Measure accordingly. It’s Two-Tiered Segmentation for the social media world.
Of course, moving this digital measurement approach into social media requires some significant adaptations. Not the least of these is understanding how to begin the process of segmentation in social media and the critical role of sampling in that segmentation process. Almost every social media measurement you make is part of some sample, even when your goal is to measure the entire population. The size and complexity of the social environment make true population capture nearly impossible.
Typically, social media measurement works by capturing a very large percentage of the conversations taking place. Surely if you’re capturing 80% of all conversations, you’re conclusions are likely to be much more accurate than traditional opinion research where samples were often no more than tiny percentiles of the actual population…
It’s actually better to have a small but truly random sample of a population than a large non-random sample. The process of listening in social media often introduces significant non-random filters of the population, making even very large captures potentially misleading for measurement.
If deciding on your audience is job one in social media, getting your samples right (or close to right) is job two.
With audience and function defined, the next step in effective social media measurement is to create appropriate measurements of success. As with all digital measurement, good KPIs must be set within the context of audience and function. The whitepaper carves out a set of likely KPIs for functions as different as communities, customer support, viral campaigns, and PR.
These KPIs deepen typical social media measurement and are meant to provide a powerful kick-start to effective thinking about metrics and reporting in social dashboards.
Sometimes, of course, it’s as important to know what NOT do as it is to get positive guidance. The whitepaper addresses a class of really bad social media KPIs and using two examples (Brand Mentions and Facebook Fans) shows why there are misleading or wrong-headed.
Finally, the whitepaper delves into the implications for technology. Just as measurement imperatives drive up to organization and down to metrics, they also drive across to technology. That tie between measurement imperative and technoloy stack is a big piece of what I’ve been showing how to connect in the series on Digital Measurement Strategy. With so many different functions, types of success and organizational owners, it’s no surprise that, in our view, choosing a single “social media technology” is wrong-headed. The white paper lays out some key groupings of technology by function and, in particular, delves into the role of listening tools for data collection.
You can download the entire white paper (for free of course) on the Semphonic Website. Download here!