Blog

May 28, 2009

Keeping Score with Social Media Marketing and Measurement: Three Things to Consider Before Getting Started

By: Susan Engleson

I was a member of the measurement panel at the IAB Social Media Conference recently, and we talked a lot about the social media ‘scorecard.’ There were a variety of perspectives represented as Bryan Wiener, CEO of 360i, moderated the discussion between Liza Hausman of Gigya, Keith Kilpatrick from Buzzlogic, Jonathan Carson from Nielsen Online and me. We all agreed that we wanted the discussion to be practical and useable.

I imagined the social media scorecard in vivid color, its clarity overwhelmingly simple, something marketers and agencies could put in their pockets and use immediately when next evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of social media channels in an upfront media mix. Sounds easy, right?

Enabling quality conversation (ranked on a ten point scale) with my consumers? Check. Possessing pass-along value that inspires influencers to inspire others about my core brand message, directly relatable to product sales? Check. The fundamental elements of virality, guaranteed to spread like wildfire through cyberspace? Check. Keep full control of my brand? Double-check.

Now, I am fully in favor of scores and scorecards. Without them, how can you know if your efforts are effective, or if you are winning or losing? But while we all agreed that measurement must be the cornerstone, we also recognized that there is no silver bullet. Especially in emerging areas that are still defining the rules of the game, where many marketers are still deciding whether to get in the game to begin with.

So let’s put away our scorecards and magic bullets just for a little while, and talk about what we need to know to get started.

Three Useful Points to Consider in Social Media Marketing and Measurement

1) Clarity is key: define your success
As with all media, before diving in, ask yourself: what will it take for you to look back at the campaign and say that it was successful? Perhaps it will be based on the number of coupons downloaded, the number of 18-24 year olds who become fans on Facebook, CRM signups or overall brand effectiveness measures and attitudinal shifts… Only you know what is important, but whatever it is, be clear about it so you can prepare to measure it, and adjust your campaign on the fly if need be.

2) Keep measurement simple and familiar

To break this down, separate quantity questions from quality questions. On the quantity side, keep it simple: know how many people you want to reach, and then measure how many you actually reached post-campaign. Make these metrics as familiar as possible – if they are expressed in comparable terms to other parts of your campaign, they are more likely to be tangible and accepted. Reach and frequency metrics are not going away any time soon.

The quality question allows for a bit more creativity – here is where you can bring in ‘engagement’ and otherwise tie in your KPI’s from (1) back into your web program. Basically, you are building a track record with your brand and making the case that there were quality elements which underscored that social media marketing was a good choice. Depending on what your success markers were, these metrics will vary – but can range from ‘branding” metrics (e.g. as measured through comScore’s Brand Metrix studies) all the way to the lift in offline purchasing.

3) Control is not the point, listening is

We know, we know… this is a scary premise. But even the best clarity, choreography and execution cannot completely guarantee control in a social media campaign. So let’s imagine for a moment that we can suspend our disbelief about relinquishing control and needing to communicate, and focus instead on how to be heard -- because attention, after all, is a scarce commodity. How might this be valuable, and what is the added value of being able to listen directly, and adjust when needed?

The value proposition here is also the trade-off – this is two-way, and frequently one-to-many. Listen to the good. Respond quickly to the bad, and respond even faster to the ugly. Enable the conversation, rather than attempting to put it in a chokehold. People are talking about your brand anyway, so you may as well get down in the weeds and know what’s going on.

And don’t forget to bring your scorecard with you.

Follow @taniayuki on Twitter!

Tags: Social