Don’t Measure Social Media. Measure What You Accomplish with Social Media.

In my role as VP, Digital Research and Analytics, I’m often asked, “What is the true value of social media?”

This is an important question. I’m always happy when clients are looking for ways to have a greater impact. It means they’re thinking beyond engagement metrics and looking for the business value.

On the other hand, there isn’t one single solution for measuring the value of social media. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Is your end-goal a sale? A lead? A donation or volunteer? And what is it worth to your business?

When measuring social media efforts for clients, the first thing my team and I ask for are their business objectives (click to tweet).

From there, we want to establish KPIs (key performance indicators), which are outcome-oriented measurements tied directly to the previously established business objectives.

Then, we determine social media objectives that ladder up to those KPIs.

And, finally, (wait for it) we determine the social media metrics that best represent those objectives.

The mix of metrics is different for every client because every scenario is different. Even various programs launched for the same client often call for different metrics.

So, while the metrics may be customized, we have a standard framework that works in pretty much any situation. Our goal is to determine the appropriate metrics that fit into each of the five moments in the consumer journey listed below:

  • Exposure
  • Engagement
  • Influence
  • Impact
  • Advocacy

Exposure is most straightforward – usually impressions.

Engagement generally contains two components: engaging WITH you (liking/commenting/sharing posts you’ve published in your owned social channels) and talking ABOUT you (mentioning your company/brand/product within social media but not directed at you in particular).

Influence is ability to cause or contribute to a change in the beliefs or behavior of your audience. Ideally this is measured with tools like pre/post surveys, but when the budget isn’t available, common proxies are tone, message delivery, click-throughs, etc.

Impact is the bottom line. What’s the ideal outcome of the social media effort? Sales, registrations, downloads, leads? Whatever the end goal is, this is where we establish those benchmarks.

Advocacy is the final step. The closing of a social media loop designed to answer one primary question. Once someone has an experience with your brand, do they recommend you to their networks?

This internationally recognized framework for social media measurement was created, in part, by Don Bartholomew, the inaugural Director of Ketchum’s Digital Research & Analytics team. Once established, quantifiable goals should be set and measured regularly. Don’t wait for a final campaign wrap-up. Measure frequently to determine what’s working, what’s not and how to optimize moving forward – once you see the great results in the wrap-up report, you’ll be happy you did!

Dan Hindin is Vice President, Global Digital Research & Analytics at Ketchum, where he leads a team of researchers and analysts to drive social insights and measurement for a wide range of clients in the consumer, corporate, technology and healthcare spaces and beyond.

Dan holds a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication from Northwestern University’s Medill School, where he participated in the Media Management crossover program at the Kellogg School of Management and served as Managing Director of the student-run blog.

Earlier in his career, Dan also worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist and was named an inaugural board member of Social Media Club Chicago, where he served as Communications Director.