I am so proud and happy to shine a spotlight on Rebecca Denison in today’s Community Week post. She was one of the first true fans of {grow} and one of my first guest bloggers, while she was still a student at UNC. She’s an Edelman measurement fanatic and here’s her take on the topic as it relates to her personal brand …

There has been an incredible focus on social media measurement lately, as well there should be.  If you want to convince business professionals and marketers to dive into social media, you need to be able to prove that there is value in it. Ideally value equals sales or dollars for most campaigns or projects, but is that really applicable to social media?

Is the bottom line really the only measure of success businesses focus on? Not exactly. For example, if you want to measure employee morale or satisfaction (arguably an important factor for any company), would you focus on dollars? Probably not. You’re more likely to track turnover or hallway chatter.

So why not measure social media the same way? Why not focus on the true goals of your social media marketing campaign?

Once you’ve decided that social media really is right for your business (and it may not be), your next step should be deciding what your definition of success is and how it will be measured.

Instead of trying to make social media try to fit traditional or common metrics, figure out how you will measure success.

When I first decided to put myself out there by joining Twitter and starting a blog, I did a bit of poking around to see how others were measuring their own social media success. A lot of the most common metrics and stats didn’t seem to fit my goals:

  • Number of Twitter followers
  • Number of retweets and @replies
  • Number of blog subscribers
  • Blog comments
  • Total page views
  • Unique page views

All of these metrics would only seem to feed my ego. I could never deny that it’s certainly nice to see these numbers grow, but to truly understand my progress, I focus on more specific numbers.

To understand my measure of success, you should first know why I joined social media in the first place. I wasn’t always such a digital nerd, but I’ve certainly always been a measurement nerd.

After I graduated from college last year, I took an internship focused on PR and media analysis. As I settled into my position and got a sense of the industry, I was curious to find more people who shared my interests and could offer expertise. And on a personal level, I wanted to meet more people in a new city. Lastly, something that is important to me both personally and professionally is to become a resource for measurement for others in my industry.

Knowing these goals, I brainstormed metrics and measures that were the most appropriate.

Social Media Goals & Metrics:

Goal: Connect and build relationships with other PR professionals and those interested in measurement. Metrics:

  • Number of folks added to my “Measurement” list on Twitter
  • Number of LinkedIn connections made with others interested in measurements
  • Number of conversations per week about measurements

Goal: Find more ways to build friendships in Chicago. Metrics:

  • Number of friends added to my “Close Friends” list on Twitter.
  • Number of clubs and organizations discovered.
  • Number of people I know I can count on in a pinch.

Goal: Become a measurement resource for others. Metrics:

  • Number of recommendations received on Twitter.
  • Number of guest blog posts written about measurement.
  • Number of times per week I’m asked for advice about measurement.

While many of these metrics may not be appropriate for business, they all fit the goals in this case. Even though I may never be able to measure social media in the same way I can track the amount of money I spend on groceries month-over-month, I can easily track whether I’m reaching my own expectations.

What’s your biggest social media goal? How can you measure it?

Rebecca Denison is a social media analyst at Edelman Digital in Chicago who is passionate about all things measurement and all things UNC.

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