The social media community has been hit with ROI fever. We've quenched our thirst for counting followers and fans, and have turned to the deeper well of actually measuring to see if what we're doing is working. Information is flowing, people are weighing in. If you are looking around for quality information on measurement, here are three tips to get you on your way to measurement wellness.
1. Know your outcomes from your outtakes from your outputs.
Take a short course in measurement--I mean real PR measurement tactics. Many of us jumped in the social media pool with very little background in PR and marketing tactics and don't know the difference between an output, an outtake, or an outcome. You don't have to know all the details, but you should be able to understand the basics. I'd suggest reading Katie D. Paine's Measure What Matters and Olivier Blanchard's Social Media ROI. If you can get through those two, even skimming if you already know your stuff, you're on your way to wellness. I also get the good stuff following these blogs:
- Don Bartholomew's MetricsMan, Tom Webster's BrandSavant, and the blogs of two above authors above as well. Amber Naslund from Radian 6 is also tackling a series of pieces on measurement starting with "Counting Isn't Measuring."
2. Start with objectives, then find the tools.
I think we get this backwards because forming measureable objectives can be hard, and tools produce instant numbers. Here's a good resource on creating measurable objectives from Amber Naslund to get you started.
In December 2010, Radian 6 published a small free ebook called "The Nine Rules of Social Media," focusing specifically on monitoring, measuring, and engagement. In the measurement section, rule # 2 states, "Give your numbers context." Raw subscriber numbers, fans, followers, retweets, whatever--they need context to inform the process. The tool box is full. It's time to start with the question, "what are we going to build?"
3. Know that social ROI isn't always measured in dollars.
Don Bartholomew did an excellent job explaining this in the piece, "Five Things to Forget and Five Things to Learn," (Dec. 30, 2010) speaking about what measurement will bring in 2011. He says, "ROI is a form of impact, but not all impact takes the form of ROI." He continues that most social media initiatives are designed to create impact, not ROI, in the short term. Traditionally, we think of bottom-line dollars when we think of ROI, but social media can take you well beyond monetary outcomes.
I like Amber Naslund's encouragement to "please stop shorting your measurement practices by assembling some quantitative data point, throwing it on paper, formatting it in a pie chart, and calling it accountability. Your measurement deserves more."
I'm interested in hearing your take--how is your ROI journey going?