In all of the conversations I have in working with folks to create a meaningful and measurable social media strategy, I work thru a series of 5 basic questions to help them not only think thru what they want to do, but also think thru how they’ll know when they’ve achieved success. Amazingly, time and again, the one question that always stumps folks is the one around measurement.
(I’ll cover the first 4 in greater detail in a series of other posts, but wanted to share them here high-level now, as well.)
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- What topics are you prepared to talk about and who are the subject matter experts already talking about it?
- Who are you trying to talk to?
- Where are they currently talking?
- How will you measure success?
How will you know you achieved your goals? What are your measures of a successful effort? What precedents have been set before, if any? How will you meet or exceed those?
Generally speaking, the first 3 questions are easier for most groups to answer. Although the answers may not be ideal in all cases, they’re at least prepared to discuss them and work thru them together. The metrics question, however, is the one that brings the most discussion and questions and debate and grief just about every single time.
A typical answer to that question goes something like this:
Me: How will you measure success?
Them: Our success measures will be that we achieve XX followers or fans in the first 90 days. Our success measures will be that we tweet XX times or post on our wall XX times in the first 90 days.
Ok. Let's chat this thru. How are these metrics helpful to the goals you just identified? In my view, these are metrics that anyone can achieve and are, frankly, meaningless numbers when gathered alone.
Them: But what else can we even measure?
Me: Well, there are lots of things you can measure. At the bare minimum, you need to focus on both audience and engagement numbers. Let me say it again – at the bare minimum, you need to focus on both audience and engagement numbers.
(I’ll get into all sorts of other useful measures in a later post.)
Me: While it may feel good to have 5,000 fans on Facebook or 10,000 followers on Twitter, what good is that to you (really) if those fans and followers never engage with you or your brand, never comment, never share the information with their networks by liking, commenting, retweeting, etc.? It’s not!
The sad reality is that you’re also not achieving your goals in any way, shape, or form. You’re not having a conversation, you’re not increasing awareness or share of voice, and you’re certainly not influencing anyone.
If they’re not engaging with you, they’re not really adding any substantial value to your brand, they’re not reciprocating any sort of information exchange or conversation – and you don’t even know if they like what they’re seeing, although I’d argue it’s a pretty safe bet that they don’t like what they’re seeing if they’re not engaging with you. This is the kiss of death because they’re going to tune you out sooner or later, if they haven’t already.
So, while fans and followers are a nice to have – they’re only part of the equation when it comes to measuring success in your social media efforts.
If you’re not measuring both – you’re measuring the wrong thing. And that means you’re delivering the wrong results.