Three key take-aways from "How to Measure Social Media"

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We are fairly familiar with typical social media metrics from numbers of fans, followers, likes, retweets, shares, comments and content clicks to site referrals. These standard metrics are more awareness-centric, which tend to focus on the top of the sales funnel.  I often wonder how to attribute social media to revenue impact or lead generation.  Nichole Kelly's book, "How to Measure Social Media", answers my question.

Align social media with core business objectives:  According to Kelly, marketing has three primary goals: increasing brand awareness, generating leads and retaining your existing customers. Understanding the company's goals will help you define the purposes of social media engagement.  If the company's goal is to generate revenue through new and existing customers, the social media team's job may be to generate new leads and encourage existing customers to upgrade or purchase more.

Define ROI that management can understand: Kelly argues that management only cares about volume, cost and revenue. For them to value the impact of social media, it's vital to speak their language, not social media jargon such as likes, retweets, fans, etc.  Instead of reporting the total number of followers on Twitter, it's better to report cost per follower (number of followers/total investment on Twitter). If you can track inbound traffic from various social media sites, you may be able to quantify cost per conversion and cost per lead by different social media sites. Furthermore, you may be able to compare cost per conversion and cost per lead from various social media sites with online advertising, event and other marketing tactics to show the effectiveness of various marketing techniques.

Integrate tools to provide end-to-end measurement: The reality is that tools, processes and workflows are often lacking or exist within various separate departments. Most tools are not connected. You will need to manually pull incomplete data from various different places. For many companies, social media metrics are neither impressive nor comprehensive. It's important to educate management that social media is still in its infancy and it needs time to mature. There is a lot of trial and error necessary to reach that stage. In addition, we need to continue to learn where the dots need to be connected to facilitate end-to-end measurement. Unfortunately, this does add resource and budget burdens to the social media team. There is no easy solution for this.

In this book, Kelly shares examples of specific metrics to measure for awareness, lead gen and customer retention and step-by-step suggestions. I find it very useful. Unfortunately, each company's situation is different; you will still need to adjust and create your own version of a step-by-step social media measurement guide.

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