I watched an online presentation this week by Jason Falls - he's founder of Social Media Explorer if you wanted to check him out - it's relatively basic stuff but he gave some great pointers about the different ways to measure social media and how goal setting is the first key to success.
I believe that it's important to put clear goals to any marketing including social media. You will hear some purists talk about "conversations" and social media is all about being "human", I agree 100% with that sentiment and yet not having a clear purpose and measuring progress seems crazy to me. Especially when you consider how can be to persuade senior management to release investment into 'new' areas like social media.
The importance of a plan
Although some guru's like Guy Kawasaki might disagree with me, my belief is that social media marketing has little impact without a plan - here's why:
- No goals = no direction for planning to take place
- No objectives = no context for measurement, keep them SMART
- No strategy = lack of clear direction or focus
- Tactics alone will achieve little - align tactics to each of your strategies
What kind of goals might you set for social media?
- Build a fan base
- Get more traffic to your web site
- Support natural search marketing - increase rank / get inbound links
- Increase sentiment (or Q scores if you're a big brand)
- Improve the customer experience
- Create product innovation
- Generate direct sales
Falls' explains that it's crucial to look at opportunities through what he calls a planning filter. This allows you to define what opportunities are right, to establish your goals and ensure they're aligned to wider marketing and your business strategy. Once you have this the developing measures is pretty straight forward.
5 social media goals and how to measure them"€¦
(1) Branding and awareness, goals would include...
- Creating awareness, increasing reach or gaining 'eyeballs', ensure you benchmark these areas first so you have context for progress. Measure through qualitative methods such as focus groups or surveys - you can do this yourself or employ a professional if only to help create the process
- Understand and measure market conversations and have greater share of those conversations, understand how we can influence them and understand market reaction to our messaging. Measure through social media monitoring tools
- Learn what people see as good and bad - ensure sure that we are twice as preferred over our competitors, this would also include using Q score for big brands. Measure again through social media monitoring and/or a PR clippings service
(2) Grow a community of customers or users to help extend the impact of marketing, goals would include"€¦
- More fans, followers, friends and readers. This is easy to measure since you're effectively counting the number of uniques
- Grow our permission marketing email list. Measurement would be a combination of opt-ins and monitoring conversion rate changes in case quality dips unacceptably
- Increase the number of affinity or loyalty club members, measure by again counting member volumes
- Across all of the above you would likely add an element of conversational measurement to take get a sense of sentiment in your community/communities - "are we getting it right?"
(3) Customer service - facilitating consumers needs proactively on and off line, goals would include...
- Increasing positive or decreasing negative sentiment - the way that customers (specifically) are talking about you across the internet can be measured by social media monitoring services
- Increase performance in feedback or satisfaction surveys that you already manage
- Practical opportunities like decreasing call centre costs (i.e twitter usage) - if you know the cost of a customer call then you can deliver a highly measurable saving if less calls are fielded
(4) R&D - collaborate with consumers to facilitate product or service improvements through ideas, complaints and suggestions, the goals would include...
- New product ideas - and measuring how many (Dell publishes that 415 have come from using this approach)
- New product features and service lines - measure how many suggestions, respective efficiency or sales increases
- Generate market research and save on large firms doing it for us
(5) Direct sales and leads generated that go on to convert (the effective use of analytics is key)
- Generation of sales and leads from blog visitors and from social interactions (this might be on your own social network as well as Twitter, Facebook, You Tube or MySpace)
- Did you know that Twitter is used by Dell Outlet to sell $6.5m worth of product?
- Look at opportunities through a planning filter and define what each one means to your organisation
- Establish goal(s) for each opportunity
- Develop measures for each goal and benchmark first
- Track and measure success