Guess What? Social Media Measurement Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

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What is it about social media measurement that makes it so hard for people to grasp? It is it really that it’s so hard, or is it that people are missing the point? According to Dave Fleet, the Vice President of Digital at Edelman in Toronto, marketers often make it harder than it is.

What’s your biggest frustration with measuring social media? Let us know.

“If you set business objectives properly and the way that a lot of marketers have become accustomed to over the years, [then] it’s not that difficult to tie social media activity back to the business objective,” said Fleet.

“That’s the piece that’s really missing from a lot of the campaigns nowadays,” he added.

The biggest problem with measurement is that marketers jump right in and utilize social media sites without having a plan in place. As Fleet explains, marketers need to develop business objectives and then find tactics that are measurable against the objectives.

He went on to say that these metrics depend on who users are reporting to. For instance, most executives don’t care how many retweets they have. Instead, they care about their bottom line and how their social media strategy relates back to their real business goals of increasing sales, expanding their business, etc.

Here’s an interesting pyramid from Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group that shows specific examples of which metrics the various business roles need:

Fleet also raised a good point in regards to a report that the Harvard Business Review published. The report suggests that the new metric of “Return on Influence” was replacing the conventional “Return on Investment” (ROI) metric. The way to find this “Return on Influence” metric, according to the post is to:

"Divide the total revenue generated via social efforts by the number of social media fans and followers, and you get a per-fan/follower value."

Fleet believes this is misleading for a number of reasons. For starters, the term “influence” is used widely across the social media industry, but there is not a clear definition of it. Fleet told us that “Return on Investment” was a business metric but that “Return on Influence” was not even a concrete number.

“I really think it’s a mistake to try to fit a square peg into a round hole with this and try and come up with a brand new metric,” he said.

“What we should be doing is trying to tie back social media activities... to business objectives. Anything other than that is just skirting the issue.”

Another mistake that marketers make with social media measurement is thinking that what works for one company will also work on another. Fleet told us that this is not true at all. To find out what specific metrics a business should examine, he said that the marketers needed to look at their individual business and their goals.

“You can’t just plug a name or a field into a computer and come up with a one-size-fits-all solution,” pointed out Fleet. “It really has to be tailored to the organization.”

Fleet said that he was “very alarmed” since so much misinformation is being distributed online about social media measurement. He told us that Katie Paine and others were advocating a mission to educate both agencies and clients on measurement.

Does all the conflicting information that is circulating online confuse you?