The measurement and quantification of social media engagement has certainly been one of THE hot topics in the socialsphere this past year. The hotly contested subject has seen strong arguments on both sides of the debate. For example:
Con: The benefit of Social Media, for individuals and business’ alike are the relationships & community building that the social networks have enabled. And since the essence of a relationship is non-linear and varies so much from business to business, how can anyone successfully apply a linear measurement to it? And if you can, could it possibly be accurate?
Pro: The key is to not force a one-size-fits all measurement to your social media strategy. First establish what you hope to achieve (your engagement goals) and then design/execute the tactics to reach each goal. Set quantifiable metrics against each activity (# of positive mentions, # of inbound links, # of referrals, earned media, etc.) which can then be benchmarked and trended.
Rebuttal: By focusing on the tactics and their measurement, a business loses the ability to honestly and openly engage with the community. Instead, marketers push tactics and advertisements that try to achieve their desired targets thereby missing the essence of the online dialogue. Further, this fails to resonate on a personal or emotional level with the audience.
And the debate continues with no hope of a consensus in the near future. With the economy continuing to struggle the one thing that is clear is that businesses will keep accountability and profits a top priority, which will keep the measurement issue on the front burner.
But what are we missing in the measurement equation?
I’m participating in a cross country conference tour with the Social Media Club (www.socialmediamasters.com) where we’re exploring advanced marketing strategies with other seasoned marketers. Within the dialogue surrounding Social Media measurement is the discussion of “what’s next”: What are we missing that has failed to bridge the gap between the business’ need for linear, clearly defined metrics and the communities need for open, free flowing dialogue void of format or formulas?
So I’ve invited one of the tour’s Social Media Masters, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff to join me on this week’s #BizForum Twitter debate to discuss this exact topic: What’s the missing link in Social Media measurement?
The four themes we’ll be debating are:
1. What about the emotional side of Social Media engagement? Can they be measured?
It’s a well-known fact that most consumers make decisions first based on emotion and then justify it with logic. Sensei Marketing has created a business around the engagement of consumers on an emotional level to drive increased leads & conversions. So shouldn’t the emotional connection made with the audience be the real focus of a business’ social media measurement? Is it even possible?
2. Can the value of a community be defined? Should it be measured?
The great benefit most businesses receive from social media is the power of community; be it internal staff & stakeholders, consumers or the media. The Wisdom of Crowds can build momentum for your brand better than any advertisement and the resulting dialogue and engagement can power your marketing and sales efforts, from new product development to new customer research and insights to referrals. But can the value of community be measured?
3. Metrics in Social Media are useless for a business unless they can be directly linked to profits.
The crux of the Social Media measurement debate is the lack of a single, definable common denominator. Are you measuring “Likes” and followers, earned media or customer satisfaction scores, number of referrals or direct top line sales? Is the emotional connection relevant at all or does a business simply need that one critical metric: Profit. Is measurement only valuable when it’s linked directly to profit?
4. Does the decision to engage on a particular devices or through specific technologies warrant additional measurement scrutiny?
How does the introduction of mobile communication into the mix affect measurement? More importantly, why are people choosing to connect with your brand by scanning a QR code or why have then chosen to engage your business on Twitter but not on Facebook? Doesn’t the technology or location of the engagement tell us something about the psychology of the audience with respect to our business and communication tactics? If so, should they not be equally important criteria for measurement?
Join Dr. Natalie and I this Wed, September 7th, 2011 at 8 PM ET on Twitter by following the #bizforum hashtag on Tweetchat or your favorite Twitter client to debate these topics with other business leaders.
Post by Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego
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Image Credit: 321 Takeoff Inc.