Three reasons why the “experts” are wrong about social media measurement

There is an argument around the blogosphere that is DRIVING ME CRAZY.

When it turns to the topic of measurement and social media marketing, many “authorities” flippantly rely on the “double standard” argument — If you’re trying to measure the value of SM, you might as well measure the value of a cell phone, the company car and the receptionist.    One popular blogger and author recently said if your manager asks for the ROI of your social media initiative, you should ask him for the ROI of his pants.  Their point is that you just need to accept the social web as something ubiquitous and necessary, so why worry about it?

This is lunacy.  Here are three reasons why this “no need to measure” view is an irresponsible position:

1) Never get caught with your stats down

Let’s examine the argument that you don’t measure the value of a company car, or email so insisting that we measure social media is a double standard.

Even if you don’t directly account for the on-going value of these items on a spreadsheet, there is an implied economic value to cars and cell phones and all this everyday stuff.

At some point in the life of every company, there will be a financial imperative to slash overhead costs.  On that day, everything will be evaluated — do we cut or not cut?  This is the point of reckoning that defines the “implied economic value” of any effort.  Yes, that company car  may be cut.  Probably the receptionst too …  along with many initiatives that have no measurement attached to them.  Which is EXACTLY why you MUST measure.

If you have measurable value attached to your social media initiative, if you can demonstrate how your projects align with strategy and contribute to shareholder value, your implied value goes up and you have a shot at surviving the cuts.  No stats = No chance.

2) The fallacy of free

One argument is that this stuff is free any way, why spend time measuring it?  By now, I’d hope we could put aside the argument that a corporate social media effort is “free.”  Right?

But just how much money are we talking about?

Let’s assume you have one person working full-time on social media marketing. We’ll assign that person a salary of $60,000. In a typical company, standard health, 401(k) and other benefit costs equal another 50% of the base salary, or in this case, $30,000.

We’ll assign another 20% of base salary for overhead such as office space, shared services support and technology. That’s $12,000.  We won’t even address travel, training, or bonuses.

So, our minimal full-up cost for one social media professional is $102,000.  As a business owner, are you willing to spend more  than $100,000 per year without requiring any accountability for a return?  What kind of a company are you running?

3) Measure what you treasure

As my teacher Peter Drucker used to say, you can’t manage it if you can’t measure it. Measurement is necessary to determine progress and opportunity.  How can you NOT measure a strategic imperative like marketing, especially when the metrics are flying at you for free?

I’m a practical guy. I know it may be cost-prohibitive or even impossible to determine the specific ROI of your efforts.  But there is no excuse for not tracking key non-financial measures that contribute to your company’s goals.  To support your credibility, your long-term viability,  and your personal career in social media marketing, you must measure.

This is an emotional topic for some, but it shouldn’t be.  This is basic business common sense. What do you think?

{grow} community alert: Frequent contributor Chris Bailey wrote a nice companion piece to this post and fleshes out some of these ideas. I recommend it!

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  • Of course it needs to be measured. Sorry for this very basic question as I am new to this space. Can you provide some basic insight as to what can be measured through the use of SM and how to show that?

  • Mark,

    You’re exactly right about the need for measurement with any and every social media strategy.

    Although I do think there is some hope that this conversation is shifting.

    Amber Naslund recently said that “Social Media Needs Accountability” [ http://altitudebranding.com/2010/02/social-media-needs-accountability/ ] and included Brian Solis’ prediction for social marketing in 2010 was a section on measurement [ http://www.briansolis.com/2010/01/social-marketing-in-twenty-ten/ ]

    But of course, for those two shining (with your post three) examples of all that’s right in this conversation there are hundreds of schmucks clinging to the double standard logic that you called out here.

    In the end though, this shouldn’t be an emotional topic (as you said). IMO, solid business decisions are made from research, data, logic, and experience. Allowing emotion to rule a conversation like this clouds our judgment and our clear vision of the bottom line.

    Thanks for this post Mark.

  • 100% agree, Mark. Without it there’s no real accountability.
    Plus, I need to be able to say what’s working and what’s not working.

    @Marc – you can measure Retweets, comments, increase in Facebook Fans, visitors to a blog, brand mentions, etc.

    And you can measure how this impacts on sales, requests for consulting, turnovern, and so on.

    You have to be a little creative and perhaps the results aren’t as concerete as “sales”; but you have to be looking to measure the impact of your efforts.

  • My take: Measuring social media efforts is a lot like measuring the success of PR. First you need to define a baseline and then have the patience to wait for a sufficiently long time to see a meaningful change.

    I also tend to support the school of thought that says you will have to measure how your social media efforts support your business goals on the whole. There’s no way to break it down to the effect of an individual tweet or Facebook entry.

  • Mark

    @Marc — in 2009 Jamie Wallace and I did an entire series on social media measurement that begins with this post:

    http://businessesgrow.com/2009/07/20/the-biggest-lie-in-social-media-marketing/

    At the end of this post there are links to articles in the series that cover ROI measurement, contribution to brand equity, non-financial indicators and starting a measurement program. I think these will be very helpful. If there is a topic you can think of that I need to cover, let me know.

  • Mark

    @Kimmo Ironically, it is many of the leading PR gurus who are so against measurement. I think they fear that turning a microscope on social media will turn a micrscope on them too. Yet, all the arguments above apply to any meaningful corporate function, including PR. I started my career in PR so I feel their pain, but I also know the ways to measure community engagement and public sentiment are a lot easier and cheaper today than when I was in the field decades ago!

    @Jon — Thanks for your ideas here!

  • Mark – Thanks for stating this so emphatically. The “No Measurements Possible / Necessary” argument is 2nd only on the Irritation Scale to the “Corporations Will Give Up Control of Their Brands/Images” statement.
    You can and you must measure. There are lots of tools available, and no excuses. For our own platform, I invested far more money in the reporting and analytics than in any other functionality. Measure and Manage are the next steps after Listen and Engage.

  • Mark

    @Andrew In the past six months, there has been a wholesale and dramatic shift in the attitude of the traditional “purists” like Amber, Brogan and Jason Falls. This move toward alignment with business fundamentals is a good thing. My theory is that as these really talented folks have tried to preach their philosophy beyond themselves they’ve been smacked down by real business folks asking for accountability. Jason basically said as much in one of his excellent posts. It’s all good. : )

    @Lisa — Yup that’s another one that drives me nuts. Maybe the next post : )

  • Measurement is so crucial, but 5/6 social campaigns still don’t measure ROI… We’re trying to improve it by channelling the best bits of conversation back into your standard PR & ad campaigns (which makes the extremely measurable ad performance a proxy for social performance).

    But there’s still a long way to go before real standards emerge. It’s an uphill battle when each company’s goals are different and the most obvious number (follower/fan count) is often irrelevant.

  • Mark

    ATTENTION! I just noticed that Lisa Foote posted comment number 2,000 on {grow}. Lisa has been a wonderful contributor to our community for a long time. To mark this milestone and to show our appreciation on behalf of the entire {grow} community, Lisa, I will send you a gift certificate for dinner for you and a friend. Thank you, and thanks to all of you who have made the comment section consistently better than the orginal post!

  • Mark

    @Rob Beautiful point. Any organzation has to step back and think, “what behavior am I trying to drive?” If you can answer that, you should be able to figure out the metrics, too.

  • I work at a PR firm. Our challenge since I first started in this business has been measurement. However, I’ve always looked at measurement as being able to answer the “so what?” question that a client could throw at me at any moment. “got you a cover story, dearest client!” “so what? What does that do for my business, PR dude?”

    We can measure lots of things, but it’s mostly output. Where it gets complicated is in contribution to the bottom line. This is not a new problem, but that doesn’t mean our clients or bosses will be happy with the old, lame “positives are better than negatives” and “500,000 people might have read that tweet”.

    When a client tells me that she can run a TV spot and get a 30% sales lift, do I tell her that she should read Joe Jaffe’s blog so she can find out what a dinosaur she is? We’ve got a long way to go before we’re measuring success using anything other than gut instinct.

  • Dan Levine @schoolmarketer

    Lots of people up and at it early today, Mark! I agree 100% – gotta measure. However, measuring means accountability. And b/c measuring is so nuanced (there’s no one-size-fits-all answer), it can be overwhelming. So we need to find a tool that isn’t cumbersome, that adds real value, is manageable, and that fits our specific business needs. Not easy. Or is it? As always, thanks for the discussion!

  • Mark

    @David I spent a good part of my career in PR so I feel your pain! I think the hardest thing — maybe the impossible thing — to measure is the impact of any individual success. But hopefully it all adds up to something that translates into the tangible: positive sentiment, overcoming community hurdles to success, brand equity. Are the new measurement tools like sentiment analysis helping you in this quest?

    @Dan As usual, the answer is, “it depends.” The measurement tool is dependent on the business objective. Some are obviously more difficult to measure than others (see David’s comment above!) : )

  • YES YES YES!

    I always say “plan to measure or plan to fail”.

    You need to bake in measurement metrics as you’re planning your social efforts, and that means you need to create ways that your goals can be measured. People struggle to measure because they try to bolt it on afterward and are stuck with what they can triage together.

  • Mark

    @Jody – oh yes, the “bolt on” : ) Funny. Measurement should be viewed as LIBERATING. It frees us from finger-pointing and “guesses” and places our efforts in a world of data. It can validate our hard work and demonstrate that we’re serious about adding real value. Measurement rules.

  • Mark – you hit it out of the park (pitchers and catchers reported, so I can use baseball metaphors again).

    At the Institute for PR Measurement Commission we’re linking the science and art of PR.

    Measurement doesn’t have to attain discrete ROI calculations to be valuable. It can be quite cumbersome and expensive to tease out specific activity ROI, which is one reason people don’t do it.

    But setting measurable objectives that link to business objectives is the simple “step one” of effective measurement. We all ought to be able to do that!

    How about determining impact of PR activities on brand/marketing efforts? I wrote about this in a paper last summer: bit.ly/bgCz8h. How about determining comprehension and understanding of your business and strategy among employees? I got one of those too. Start on page 536 bit.ly/9SoMaz.

    Measurement can be qualitative — the trick is to just start doing it. Social media isn’t exempt from this requirement, as a lot of people are learning. Someone is going to wake up and ask, “what are we getting out of our social media effort?”

    Good on ya for this post!
    Sean Williams
    @commammo

  • Mark, I think it all comes down to a very simple question: How the hell do you know what’s working and what’s not? Forget the money variable of ROI. Is it worth the human resources of time, effort, and ideas to make social media tools work? And if so, what aspects are working toward a business goal and which ones need to be tinkered with. I can’t imagine doing anything and being blind as to whether its making a difference or not.

    And as an anthropologist, I really like Sean’s addition that measurement in online effectiveness can be qualitative. It absolutely needs to be to create a well-rounded concept of success. Quantitative metrics only tell so much. Add qualitative elements such as deep-dive interviews and observation to gain a richer picture of not only what’s working but *how* and *why* its working.

  • Mark

    @Sean — Thanks so much for the links. I will look at them when I have time to read them carefully tonight or tomorrow. I am really interested in the work of your institute and will dive into this!

    @Chris — Great wisdom here. Not all success can be put on a bar chart. Sometimes it shows up in stories. I have some of my own great stories about that. One of the best value measurements I ever saw was a single videotaped comment from a customer. Thanks for the blog post idea : )

  • Dan Levine @schoolmarketer

    Great posts — @Sean and @Chris, love the idea of qualitative data. Question is, how do you get your stat-hungry CEO and Board to accept qual data in place of quant? Any advice? Thanks!

  • Absolutely!

    Measuring your performance in any activity is necessary to give us benchmarks for the future, set goals, and compare buzz from one time to another.

    Great points by Sean and Chris, too. Although qualitative data is more difficult to analyze and compare, it is absolutely essential. Brand equity is not calculable, but of extreme importance as it allows us to gain a more clearer image of a brand’s total value.

    Thanks for this post, Mark 🙂

    Best,
    Michelle @Synthesio

  • Good stuff as always…

    Lemme talk about measurement. I was running a large corp a number of years ago – we had a dozen corporate sales guys and gals. They were clamoring for all the latest toys. I said absolutely, if they work. And by work I mean increased sales, increased profits, save time save money. Make the job easier and more effective.

    So I did a test I took half the folks and bought them the best phones and the best plans etc etc. The other half – no mobile. Did a 6 month test. Guess what i found?

    The half with phones had no uptick on sales numbers. In fact a couple of the non phone users did better. And all the company realized was the costs from the phones and plans. As I have always suspected mobile, and being available, and toys/tools are not what makes great selling. Anyway that is a topic near and dear to me – actually wrote a book on it. Who knew?

    The point here is before you start implementing and then trying to find ROI ask yourself if it (whatever it is) fits in your strategy, marketing, business model and process.

    SM does for some. Others not at all. And the time effort and resources taken to try and figure this out is a waste. Skilled savvy practitioners know what works for their markets. Old saying – if all ya have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

  • Mark

    @Mose — You are my hero. What a great story to illustrate the point of the blog today. It’s always healthier to have a mantra of “what really works?” than “what’s the latest trick?”

    @Michelle — I think I need to riff on the qualitative part a little more. It’s important but not discussed in the social media context very often.

  • Don’t take this the wrong way, but telling people (who are presumably in the marketing biz) that measurement isn’t optional seems like a huge waste of keystrokes. If they don’t realize this already they’re going to get their arses handed to them by some CMO.

    What irks me is all the authors of articles/posts I’ve read recently on Social Media ROI seem to dance around the topic. To brand marketers and CMO, ROI isn’t some philosophical theory. ROI boils down to how much revenue a particular marketing activity generated per dollar of cost. The concept is simple, but everyone seems to forget the basic reason our clients hire us is to sell stuff.

    I happen to believe it is possible to quantify the ROI of social media activity, however, to do so with any degree of accuracy/reliability is extremely expensive – possibly too expensive for most national CPG brands. Apparently a lot of agency folk have difficulty articulating this. They can’t present the pros/cons of various types of measurement, and instead, opt to whipping up a silly phrase (return on _______), trying to convince clients they’re dinosaurs for thinking about ROI.

  • Tom – On CPG in particular, I agree. CPG firms are very wrapped up in difficult-to-wrangle engagement / offer / redemption processes.
    But for many other types of companies, including most franchise and MLM systems, as well as SMBs, it is possible to measure social media interaction and hard ROI. And newer web 2.0 services mean it does not need to be expensive (even accurately). – Lisa
    PS Enjoyed finding http://koolaidantidote.wordpress.com/ !

  • Tom K – it seems quite intuitive, but isn’t, apparently. There still are many communications folks who don’t think they have to measure. Hence, a blogging cottage industry in telling them they must!

    My point is that not every measure of value is return on investment. If your issues management person keeps you out of a negative story, what’s the ROI? How much is a positive story worth in the value chain? How much does your company yield when employees better understand the company strategy and their role in achieving its objectives?

    These all are contributors to the revenue/expense relationship, but they’re darn difficult to isolate. We know, however, that Goodwill is an item on a balance sheet — perhaps the impact on that amount is easier to calculate, I don’t know. But in data driven organizations, you’d better find out how to represent the value of your activities (which is different than justifying them) in terms that executives can understand.

    This is a huge challenge. It is why many of us evangelize in this space.

    When I ran internal comm for Goodyear, we focused on increasing knowledge and comprehension among employees — of the overall strategy, and of the line of sight between their goals and those of the company. We looked at intranet, newsletters, news media and managerial communication. To the surprise of no one, managers had the most impact.

    Managers who hold staff meetings, work on staff development plans and explain the connection between departmental and business unit (and ultimately corporate) goals tended to have employees who knew and understood more.

    What is the ROI on that?

  • I’m in agreement with you on all points, but probably a bit more optimistic. In the scenarios you presented, measuring ROI is probably possible, but prohibitively expensive.

    My point is for many brands, particularly when the POS is technically disconnected from the marketing activity, measuring true ROI may be too expensive. Does that mean we throw up our hands and measure nothing? Nope. Does that mean we discontinue using a particular tactic or activity altogether? Nope.

    I think we’re in agreement. Metrics aren’t optional, but measuring true ROI down to the penny can be extremely expensive, challenging, and yes, sometimes even impossible.

  • Tom, I think we are in violent agreement! I’d add that setting measurable communication objectives remains the most important and least used measurement strategy in business.

  • Chris had it right using anthropology as a framework for evaluating social media. When conducting ethnographic studies, for example, conversations are the content that an anthropologist’s fieldwork leaves him/her to analyze. There are ways to code the data and filter it much in the way social media monitoring tools filter online buzz – hey, I just realized why I loved my job right away..thanks Mark 😀
    Anyways, the final conclusion always takes into account that as necessary as it is to code and analyze data (conversations), it is also imperative to recognize what we cannot translate into numbers and formulas.

    Emotions (sentiment) cannot be broken down into “positive” “negative” “neutral” or “other” – but we do, because businesses need performance ratios to measure their initiatives.

    We are human, and social media is us. With the unique background of every person that participates in social media, the web 2.0 has given us a profound tool to look at ourselves.

    Great conversation here, as always, Mark 🙂

  • Mark

    @Tom — Up above in my response to Dan Levine I referenced a blog post from last summer. You really need to read it! You will love it.

  • @Dan I would say you really should never completely replace quantitative research with qualitative. Both can be part of your measurement and analysis toolkit. It’s very similar to what @Michelle writes above: qualitative isn’t just collecting stories and interviews…it’s building harder statistics that can easily be evaluated. It’s an area where anthropologists and other social scientists can really help businesses improve their efforts.

  • Nichole_Kelly

    Yes Yes and more Yes! Thank you for saying all the things I’ve been thinking. The days of unmeasurable marketing are long gone. I present social media as the all mighty assist. It helps leads at every point in the funnel but at the end of the day the leads go through your normal sales process. This means you have to measure all the way through. I just wrote a post on The 5 Categories of Social Media Measurement and would love to hear your thoughts. I not only believe it is possible. I’m doing it. http://www.nicholekelly.com

  • Mark

    Thanks for taking me to school again today everyone. Great insights and you’ve pushed me to write a little more about qualitative research tomorrow (although this is something Michelle should be writing!!). Ever humbled, consistently inspired, your WordPress servant, Mark

  • Mark

    @Nichole I would be glad to look at your post and provide feedback, but it might be tomorrow until i can get to it. Thank you so much for your contribution!

  • The thought that comes to mind after reading your post:

    Just because something is hard to do (or explain) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

    Maybe that is what the issue is since there is no simple 1 + 1 = 2 formula for measuring social media, the response is to just say don’t do it.

    However that’s certainly not going to get you very far. Facts are friends. Without measuring what you are doing you will never understand what is or isn’t working.

    Ugggghhh! I can’t believe you even needed to write this post. I feel like I could write a novel but I will spare every one that.

    Thanks for keeping the business thinking in everything you do Mark. It is a helpful guide in these new waters.

  • Mark

    @Jeremy — So as we navigate these “new waters” can I be Gilligan? I called it first.

  • @Mark

    Read your post. Amen brother! Amen.

  • If you insist!

  • Mose says it all. I’ve found that CMOs are so caught up in the SM vendor hype that unless they have someone come in that can explain reality they leap for fear of being out of touch

  • Great article Mark.

    I remember when measurement of web traffic meant pulling server logs and pouring through pages of meaningless IP addresses and timestamps to make sense out of the number of “hits” the site received, which was our “success.” Tools like AWstats came along to visualize these logs, and that helped to have some meaningful analysis. But the greatest improvement in web analysis came with Google Analytics (because it was the magical price of free). The nomenclature of web traffic analysis changed because we could all speak from the common page.

    All of that to say, I think social media measurement is where we were with web logs 15 years ago. We need more multichannel analysis tools that do for social media measurement what Google Analytics did for web analytics–put everyone on the same page. With bit.ly stats in one hand and our web analytics in the other we parse traffic to tell a meaningful story. We’re simply not there today.

  • Courtney …

    Pardon my French here but there is a saying in the music business. I saw it taped on the wall of a studio many decades ago.

    Shit with reverb, is still shit.

    Same applies to any and all toys. You have to be strategic to have a strategy.

    I see a lot of folks missing the meat and potatoes of strategy. And then jumping to page 60 of the marketing book.

    Old chestnut. Look after the dimes and nickles and the dollars will look after themselves.

    Oh, still blushing.

  • hmmm sorry i used a couple of funny characters that comment started off or should have

    Courtney … (blushing)

  • Tom Buday

    Excellent article. Common sense points, well made.

  • Great post, Mark! I couldn’t have said it better myself. You need to measure to understand if your activities are moving the needle, to benchmark, to course-correct, keep a finger on the pulse of the industry and customer needs, and even to keep an eye on competitors.

    The problem is that SM engagement doesn’t always map to revenues neatly. I think Olivier Blanchard (The Brandbuilder) makes a good point in talking about nonfinancial impacts (awareness, sentiment) vs. financial (as in the case of direct response)impacts of SM activity. It’s important to measure both, and if you can find a way to map nonfinancial to financial eventually, well, that’s even better 🙂

    Maria Ogneva
    Director of SM, Biz360
    @themaria @biz360

  • Not only do you have to determine ROI but you have to determine what exactly is valuable for your company to measure. Once you have the tools to measure and categorize data on the Web, it’s up to you to build strategy around that. Because of the endless amounts of variables involved, will a standard formula ever emerge? Great ideas in this post/comments section!

    Eric Melin
    @Spiral16
    @SceneStealrEric

  • @Eric – another kindred spirit! Measurement isn’t a master formula that will always work for everyone in all situations. There may be some situations where it just doesn’t matter at all. But, we won’t know that unless we explore the measurement angle during our strategic planning. This is where communicators fall down — they want to jump right to the cool tactics and don’t want to do the hard work of determining a) what this stuff is going to do for the business; b) how we know if it worked, and c) dealing with the worry that they’ll be held accountable if it doesn’t. It’s a lot easier to fly by the seat of one’s pants than create a plan that doesn’t succeed.

  • Jim LeBlanc

    Another superb post Mark. And they always seem to come just when I am facing a challenge in a certain area. Thanks for being timely!!!

  • Mark

    @ Courtney — Appreciate that you gave your time to {grow} today!

    @Jeremy — Great insight. This is such a dynamic and exciting area! Can you imagine where we will be on measurement even in a year from now?

    @mose thanks, man

  • Mark

    @ Maria I would say measurement RARELY maps to revenues neatly! very, very difficult. Put “engagement” right up there with “brand equity” on list of intangible yet crucial metrics!

    @Eric — I have long called for a somebody to step up with a free, simple, comprehensive monitoring solution for small businesses. I’ve heard rumors, but nothing tangible yet!

    @Sean — you and I are SO on the same page with this stuff. I hope to learn a lot from you and your research!

    @Jim My pleasure!

  • Excellent post, Mark, and outstanding discussion! With the advent and spread of new mobile capabilities, opt-in digital interactive by consumers at retail store shelf, combined with the right algorithms, may bring us a big step closer to estimating real (ie, financial) ROI derived from social media participation.

    When my Mentos brand team was in the midst of the “Mentos+Diet Coke Craze” back in the “dawn” of mass social media (ie, about 4yrs ago!), we were able to attribute most of a 20% sales boost to sm by correlating online activity to our trade marketing activities during that campaign. I’m sure there will be more sophisticated and less cumbersome ways in the near future.

  • What a terrific post and excellent comments that speak to the most crucial and fundamental point that will drive the use of the social web to the next level. If you are not creating value for your business, your work life expectancy is going to be short. If you want your initiatives to be taken seriously, you must prove thier value. If you want the business to spend money, you must pay it back with tangible returns. Why, because if you don’t, other priorities will push you out of the way. Business is about making money, period. If your initiatives are not making money, they are wasting money that can be used by other resources to achieve the corporate profitability goals. That is the language senior executives speak, ruthlessly.

  • Mark – thanks for your comments above very useful links. I found this article and thought I would post it here for the community to see. A good round up of “how” to measure aside from your other posts: http://bit.ly/cXpUPF

  • Mark

    @ Pete — Boy it would be fascinating to have a beer with you over those stories. Really one of the first episodes of “viral,” right?

  • Mark

    @Steve — a man after my own heart. Always love hearing from a fellow red-blooded capitalist pig dog.

    @Marc — A helpful article. Seeing lists of possible measures is always thought-provoking. I always say if you can figure out what behavior you’re trying to drive the metrics will follow.

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  • { bangs head on table repeatedly }

    As an ops guy rather than a marketing one I’m wondering what all the fuss is about? I’ve had the tools and techniques available for years that allow me to track the sources of contacts that comes into the business. Social Media is no different.

    All that this is doing is creating a new “contact centre” that needs to be performance managed as would any other part of the business be. If I have staff manning the Twitter feed I need to cost that. If I’m using Facebook to drive people into a sales funnel I need to track it. Etc.

    Everything already exists to sort this one out. Maybe all we need to do is get Marketing and Ops talking to eachother 😉

  • Mark

    @Ross We’re kindred spirits. I also grew up in a manufacturing environment (and loved it!). The ops guys are held to relentless performance standards and an expectation of continuous improvement. Always made me wonder why the marketing folks should be held to a different standard. They shouldn’t be. If they are spending company resources, they should be accountable for results.

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  • Thank you for a very insightful article! The time aspect of Social Media campaigns if definitely where the measurement needs to come into play. Man hours! That’s what it comes down to. Looking forward to wading through all the comments for useful measurement tools!
    Thanks again

  • Mark

    You’re welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Amen x infinity.

  • I don’t think he is right or you are right, as you are both thinking within a totally different frame a reference.

    You need to measure the ROI, fair enough.

    The crucial question perhaps ought to be: can you afford not to have a social media initiative?

  • Mark

    @Pascal You are raising a VERY key point — the cost of doing nothing. probably deserves an entire blog post just on that topic! It is so great to have one of my Twitter friends comment on the blog! Really brought a smile to my face.

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  • Its not free, but Social Media is the Cheapest marketing vehicle out there, especially for the small business owner.

  • Some good points. Especially the Drucker quote.

    But lets’ go back to the pants argument… You don’t measure company sales increases that come from wearing pants, but we can assume that not wearing them would affect sales in some way.

    If I have a company where the use of pants is an option that I need to manage, then I’d better get some measurement and compare pants to no pants (or may blue pants to red pants, short pants to wool slacks). Sales number may not be immediately affected. More likely that there would be many other ways to measure. (ie. number of lawsuits, employees refusing to participate, or perhaps a flood of new traffic)

    Use of social media is similar in that you get some immediate results AND some things that may not be obvious when you start. A manager ought to know that it’s as important as putting on pants, a decision that needs to be made TODAY. From there, we have a myriad of things we can measure, and Drucker’s advice is appropriate.

    What we call “Social Media” today will be called “doing business” in the future. There may be new buzz words and phrases, and the technology will keep changing. The revolution that has changed business is not a fad. It’s allowing us to listen in ways we never could before.

    If we listen, respond and engage with our customers with the same love that we have for a cherished friend or best client, it’s business as we always knew it.. the company that solves problems, answering a market need and treats people right will prosper.

    Measure anything you want to manage. You can assume that when you do, you’ll know the answers if you have the “Listen and Love” mindset.

  • There’s no issue on whether you want to have social media source in your lead tracking.

    What is new is our ability to listen to conversations well beyond our front door (or landing page)… before someone becomes a customer, or even a lead.

    We knew that customers where talking to friends about our brand, now we can listen in and react (when necessary) in real time.

    Some are using this as an excuse to barge into these conversations and handout coupons.. about as welcome as the new MLM recruit with new business cards at your mixer.

    Like the salesman who learns to get beyond spamming cards, we’ll all learn to do this better. The difference now is that it’s real time, in public and we can really screw things up to millions as we stumble. Not doing something could be much worse.. seen by many you never knew existed, and sparking more conversations that may not go your way.

    Social media as we know it is just a tiny segment of conversations between people in our marketplace. The difference now is that we CAN listen in. If we measure it, we can manage it.

  • Anonymous

    Mark – You’re never one to shy away from the tough stuff – kudos.

    I agree – social media MUST be measured and contain KPIs (key performance indicators). The trouble lies with the term ROI (as opposed to KPIs). Formally speaking, ROI = (Sales – Investment) / Investment. I often preach that social media should not be measured by sales. Yes, the long term effect will be greater sales. This is because social media should focus on some type of awareness, engagement, relationship building, and/or lead generation – but stop before sales. (My position with marketing as a whole.)

    One must start with objectives – what are you realistically looking to accomplish? Then set appropriate parameters around the objectives that can be accurately measured AND be attribute to social efforts.

    As you probably know from some of our exchanges – I could go on much more about social media ROI, but that might turn into a class instead of a blog comment. 🙂

    Keep up the stellar work.

    Thanks and best,
    Social Steve

  • Great post, Mark. I’m still gaining experience and expertise in social media, but in my humble opinion I think you’re hitting the nail on the head.

    Where I work we are starting up a number of social media initiatives and right now I’m trying to learn all I can about how to measure the ROI. In our case, the investment part isn’t so much money as it is time. So, the idea is to show our clients that social media is worth making a priority.

    With that in mind, I definitely do NOT want our clients thinking that social media is nothing more than an excuse to be on Facebook all day.

  • Shane

    Great article, now we just need to get more people sharing the great numbers and case studies with others! Can you share anything like that in a future post?

  • Mark

    Perfect sentiment Christine! Thank you!

  • Mark

    And I would l would love to take that class!!

  • Mark

    I don;t think we’re far off on this one, Warren. My perspective is that social media is an evolution in how we communicate. So in that respect, you’re right. It will be business as usual. But it is also an evolution in how we MARKET and i have heard too many people get lazy about this stuff. I know when it comes to marketing you;re a stickler for measurement too so I think we’re saying the same thing. If we’re investing in time — which can be more precious than money for a small business — we better see some returns, even if we have simple measures in place. Thank you!!

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  • Kenny Rose

    The fact is a lot of the so called social web experts have no business expertise. It is clear to a large extent a lot of there “knowledge” is based on a weak foundation. It amazes me some of the comments and the lack of a basic understanding of business, marketing and management theory.  Anybody who says they cannot measure the use of social media does not understand what ROI actually is 🙂 and you know from the confusion on the social web that develops a lot of people use that term as a way to implement the smoke and mirrors strategy to hoodwink those with less insight into the business analysis process. 

    Everything can be measured. You just have to know what/why/how/when you are going to measure it and link this to business development objectives. 

    And that is where the value of consultant/coach business development professional with the right expertise earns there fee among other things. 🙂 

    Appreciate the fact you are calling their bluff. In the words of your esteemed teacher 🙂 

    But the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, ” Top Management” he holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole. Peter Drucker 

    Respect Sir 🙂 

  • Excellent ! I did not use to see it this way.

  • “…the ROI of his pants…” now that one made me LOL

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