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Metrics for Social Media--Is There Anybody Out There?

I read a post on Social Media Today written by Alan Maites expressing some frustration with the lack of good information about measuring social media. He was bemoaning a piece Brian Solis had written for Advertising Age on Eight Steps to Creating a Brand Persona, sort of using it as an example to say there is no real good practical info out there on best practices for social media. It reminded me that there are a lot of us PR/Marketing/Communications people trying to figure out how to quantify social media. He even included a great cartoon from Hubspot that expressed the dilemma.

It's true—metrics for social media is in its infancy stage, so there is a lot of information out there, but not much in terms of best practices. I have seen some good pieces out there, though, and I'll attempt to steer you towards some good resources.

First, let me come to Solis' rescue—he is most prominently a thought leadership guy. You're not going to get much A-B-C type stuff from Brian. He is a thinker and a researcher. I like his stuff, but always remember his context. I think his latest book, Engage, is great reading when trying to figure out how to frame social media in marketing. It is heady, however. Don't read it in bed before going to sleep. You need to be fully engaged with a highlighter in one hand.

Next, I am going to borrow from Beth Kanter (she writes an excellent blog on social media) who did a review of a free e-book on Facebook metrics on her blog. She tracks measurable data on her Facebook page with the help of a strategy from the above mentioned e-book by Shabbir Imber Safdar of the TruthyPR blog and Shayna Englin who runs her own consulting company. The book is blessedly available for free download here.

 Kanter said she took the objectives of her Facebook page (engagement and listening) and  measured the data that relates to that. She gives a list in the blog post here that she gleaned from the e-book. She mentioned that Safdar and Englin's e-book covered a lot more metrics than she mentioned, but she picked out the ones she felt fit her objectives.

I referenced these two pieces (Kanter's blog and the free e-book) to make a point that the information on metrics is out there, but there aren't any shortcuts to finding or implementing them. But, there aren't any shortcuts to implementing metrics for traditional media either.

I think what's befuddling me is that social media metrics haven't been around long enough to have any real best practices established so it takes some digging and working through. I'd like people to just hand me something I can implement—I don't think we're at that stage yet with social media. But these two pieces give me a good start on understanding how to implement some simple, effective metrics. And, I am hoping there is some carryover power there to other media.

Do you have a measuring system for your social media? I'd like to hear your thoughts--any tools you use?
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  • BrianSolis's picture
    May 30 Posted 6 years ago BrianSolis Thank you for the post and for coming to my defense. The most interesting thing about Alan's post is that it voices a frustration that served as the inspiration for the Engage.  He's not wrong, he's exactly right. I couldn't find meaningful advice or instruction. And I believe I share your view in the beginning of the 300 pages, it makes no apologies for the amount of information within, as there really are no shortcuts.

    You're reading Engage and I'm not sure whether or not you read that chapter on metrics yet, but as you'll see, it gives you the framework on how and what to measure to capture everything necessary for KPIs, ROI, and also action that has a pre-defined impact on any effort. But you can't measure what you don't know to track. I believe that programs inspired by insight, data, and objectives (before you start experimenting) set the foundation for a program that might share some attributes with many of the "how to's" that are out there, but are unique in their content, context, execution, support, and measurement - and that's the point.

    Much of the information online is helpful for inspiring creativity and direction. But, it's up to each one of us to get the answers through the hard work necessary to see how any of this applies to our unique challenges and opportunities that exist in each of our worlds. Meaning, we have to become the very experts in our space that we once sought to answer our own questions.

    Great post Chris...thank you again.

    My work will continue to focus on empowerment, placing place the responsibility of leadership and direction on us. Once we have the answers, we decide whether or not we can or want to capture that experience in a post such as "Top 10 Ways to Get from Here to There" or whether the real help lies in our ability to teach individuals to become self sufficient.

    For the context, here's the comment I left on Alan's post:

    Interesting article...I have to say however, that my greatest frustration when publishing guest posts is the amount of data and information stripped out in favor of punch, views, and shares. I also must share the sentiment you observe is that many of these posts raise more questions than they do answers.

    When I write A-B-C "how to" articles, they're dramatically edited down or new angles are requested...and quite honestly...even if they weren't, they would only apply to certain circumstances. For example, I just met with a handful of small businesses as part of a Citibank initiative to help companies get started in social media (with specifics.) It was very different than anything I write, and in each case, the steps they would take the next day shared very little in terms of execution.

    I spend every day experimenting with new media in marketing, advertising, communications, business, service, and I can assure you, that there is no "top 10 guide to do X" that will apply across the board. I answer my own questions in every case I work on and I share much of "how to get those answers" in my book and the blog.  

    I'm a champion of self-empowerment and the only replicable process that I've discovered that consistently works, is the processes used to obtain, interpret and implement insight into programming that's custom to the dynamics and challenges of the matter at hand - one company at a time.

    Sometimes it's easier to think outside the box, when there isn't a box to begin with...

    So the simple answer is, "I do know..."

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