Measuring your social output

This is post is part of the Institutionalizing Social Media series. To see previous installments or to learn more about the series, click here.

As you begin to put your social media plan into action, perhaps the biggest thing that you need to do aside from the rollout is to establish what you are measuring. Now, the metrics can be different for each entity within your company, but you need have something that you can measure and benchmark against.

So where do you start?
Measurement
For that question, articulate what you want to accomplish. Below are some common areas of deliverable results along with ways to measure them.

Audience

For some segments of the business, their biggest win in the social space will be to acquire new fans or to transition existing customers to a specific social property. Measuring the number of fans/followers is the least labor intensive metric on this list. You can log on daily or monthly and track the growing number in an excel spreadsheet, or take advantage of existing tools that track this for you. Facebook provides this data under the site’s Insights function. For Twitter, you can sign up for a third party tool like Twitter Counter to track your account’s growth.

Engagement

One of the biggest benefits of social media is generating engagement with both existing customers and potential customers. Tracking engagement can be done on a number of levels. The first is the number of both inbound and outbound conversations on a specific social property. For example if you are using Twitter, you can count the number of @ replies that you receive or the number of overall conversations that you have each month. Tools like CoTweet, Hootsuite and Tweetstats allow you to measure these things. On Facebook, the Insights tool mentioned above allows you to drill down to see what builds the most engagement among your community. You can also look at the number of eyeballs and sessions on your website from social conversations or the amount of foot traffic to your location.

Quality assurance

If you are working with a product team on building a social strategy, a great measurable is to track product bugs and fixes identified by the community at large. To show a long-term value, tie these fixes to the amount of money and time saved in troubleshooting these issues or developing new features that customers are looking for.

Subscriptions

Size matters. Whether it is the size or an email list or subscribers to your blog’s RSS feed. For teams owning these two functions for your company, a good way to show value to them in the social space is to show how actions on social technologies have increased their subscriber base.

Sales

At the end of the day, executives want to see dollars produced from business functions. While the measurable above are great and tangible, nothing spells success like dollars and cents. Many of you may be asking how you can track dollars from social media. It may sound daunting, but is actually not that difficult.

If you are selling (or completing another transaction) online, track all traffic using a targeted URL (ex: http://www.vistaprint.com/twitter). If you can’t do this through your site’s tracking system, you can use coupons or short URLs that tie back to social media. For example if customers save 55% from a Twitter deal, use Twitter as a coupon code. At the end of each month, you can track the sales that have come in from the network.

Offline companies can also track the volume of their social efforts in the social space using the couponing structure. To do this, you can offer a printable coupon code on your Facebook page and have it be redeemed in your location. To track the exact revenue, simply have the folks running the register write the sale total on the reverse of the coupon. If you don’t want to get that granular and only want to show incremental change, you can offer $5 off of a $50 purchase, which would tell you that for each coupon received, the average order value was above $50.

Once you have the sales numbers in place, you can also see the value of your online interactions each month. To get the final number divide the total sales over the total interactions (or time spent interacting) to get the average value of an interaction. This number will allow you to determine if the time you are investing in the space is truly a positive return on your investment.

These five measurement areas are not perfect for every business, but rather a guideline of things that you can measure. At the end of the day it is up to you to decide what should be measured when expanding your social media program across your company. If you don’t measure anything, you will be destined to fail and lack of organizational buy-in.

What are you measuring?

Tune in next week for the next installment of Institutionalizing Social Media, if you want to get it sent to your email, please click here.

Image – whoswho

One Response to Measuring your social output
  1. Measuring social media
    August 30, 2011 | 9:10 am

    […] we have ever interacted on the social web or read this blog, you know that I am passionate about is social media measurement.  Many people say that it can’t be done or that only unicorn and rainbow numbers can be […]

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