Tracking Social Media Marketing Activities & Metrics

This may be something many of you are already doing but it’s been an effective strategy for me so I wanted to share. I get a lot of questions around how I track our marketing activities on social media and which metrics are the most important.

The approach I have taken is to track our activities in three distinct buckets - Social Yield, The Social Effect and Social Results. This makes it easier to manage and understand the results. What most marketers already know is that many of the things we track in social media are not tied directly to the bottom line which is why calculating ROI on the social web has been so challenging. What you probably also know is that while all the metrics don’t make a financial impact, they all play a role in understanding the success or failure of your social media marketing campaigns. The buckets I use actually came from a marketing class I took in grad school (special thanks to Dr. David Gulley from Bentley University). At the time there was no such thing as social media so the buckets were used to track traditional programs (print, email, banners, etc).

  • Social Yield is a return against a specific target. For example, it could be the number of members you sign-up for a community against your stated objective or the number of twitter followers you gained vs. your goal. There are couple of keys for this bucket. First is to not be afraid to put a stake in the ground and set a realistic objective. You can do this based on previous experience or a SWAG (or a Silly Wild Ass Guess). Either way it’s critical to establish something and stick to it. Second, be sure to make the objective time driven. It’s not good enough to simply state that you want to have “1000 new community members." Establish the goal and put it on a time line for achieving it (e.g. In <1 month, in Q1, next year> we will increase community membership to 1000).

    Some things to consider measuring in this bucket include number of Facebook Fans, number of new community members, number of Twitter followers, number of retweets, number of YouTube subscribers, or number of LinkedIn group members over a given period of time.

  • The Social Effect is the performance delta from social activity. This could be as simple as a change in the number of retweets since beginning the social media program in general or around a product launch (e.g: retweets increased 120% during the week of our product launch). More sophisticated organizations will track a change in the bottom line such as sales or customer service inquiries (e.g: Since Oct 2009 when we launched on Twitter, inbound service requests declined from 500 the previous month to 250). Benchmarking key metrics like that up front will get you on a path for tracking an ROI.
  • Social Results are how social media met or missed the stated objectives. For me, the key to the results bucket is they are always tracked against metrics that make a financial impact. They could be marketing metrics like impact on cost per lead or lead conversion rates but the most important are those that impact the sales pipeline, closed opportunities and customer service incidents. Using the example above, “Since Oct 2009 we reduced inbound service requests by 50% resulting in savings of $15,000 in deflected inbound calls and emails”

I’m really interested in hearing what you think. Is there anything I am missing or things I should be tracking?

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