I’m only a fan of measurement sometimes.
When it comes to things like gauging the effectiveness of a digital campaign, figuring out if the content on a website is actually engaging people and compelling them to act, or figuring out why I’ve dropped two spots in my Super Coach Competition overnight, I want to peer deeply into the numbers and figure out what I can do to increase my success… or just rescue myself from the bottom of the heap.
So when don’t I like to measure? First of all, when I cook.
There’s something about following a recipe down to the last grain of salt that makes me feel terribly uncreative. Like the dish I’ve created isn’t my own, but rather a Xerox copy of something the recipe writer made. I like to cook by feel and taste, and see where I end up.
I used to think this was kind of wacky and interesting, until a friend pointed out that my “creativity” was mitigated by years of experience and knowledge of what was “too much” of something, and how much of another something might improve the taste.
I wasn’t flying blind – I’d just doled out ingredients often enough and tasted enough results that I’d become instinctive about what worked. Oh, and all that tasting that was still happening? I was applying the “MMM metric.” Well, fine. I also don’t like to measure in the US.
I’ve been trying to convert everything from the imperial system to the metric system (without Google’s help). I’ve done the math to break down gallons into litres (1 = 4) and to make sense of how tall a foot actually is (roughly 30 cm) or how long a mile really is (1.6 km.) I can think in Fahrenheit now, but that’s not much of a step forward given my age.
Finally, I don’t have too much fun measuring when I’m told that my efforts don’t matter… mostly because they’re not understood.
I once worked with a guy I’ll call “Rick”. Rick was a big proponent of digital advertising, from paid search to banner ads to pop-ups and pop-unders (I’m sure he’d measure a popover if he could figure out how.)
He liked the way his beloved ads were “measurable”, in a way that “nothing else you do online is.” Rick was not a fan of social media for business (did you see that coming?) because he felt that the efficacy of social was “impossible to measure.”
Try as we might to dissuade him, he refused to budge… until he was given the task of integrating measurement and tracking for the entire company digital strategy – including social media. He wasn’t allowed to scrap the program (even if he was dying to.) No, he would have to work with the “Twitter people” (!)
And the Twitter people weren’t going to pass up an opportunity to get a little respect.
We chose four overall areas to measure, each of which had metrics beneath them, all of which would be based on numbers (even if they weren’t quite that simple) – all with the goal of bringing Rick onside:
- Community growth: Members added to our Facebook group, more subscribers to our blog, more (non-spam) Twitter followers, etc. Sheer counts that weren’t terribly meaningful until we considered…
- Community engagement: Facebook “likes”, Facebook comments, Facebook “Shares”, blog comments, Twitter “@ replies” and retweets – we clocked all of them. Did (what we defined as) engagement increase with greater numbers across the board? Where did growth actually generate response? More meaningful to Rick, in terms of gauging just how much interaction we were seeing, and learning about what our customers liked and wanted and responded to. To his credit, it didn’t take him long to see that gathering sentiment and feedback could inform his advertising plans. But here’s where he started to get excited…
- Clicks through to our website: Ah, the first step of conversion. Did people actually click on our product links from social channels? Which ones garnered the most response? On which platforms? What times of day yielded the most clicks? And, yes…
- Conversions: Rick loved conversions more than most things in life. If he did something that made you act the way he wanted you to act (giving us your email address, requesting more information, making a purchase), Rick would send you a digital hug across the tubes. Now Rick was seeing conversions from social traffic, and suddenly we were getting real hugs at work (awkward!) And just like that, social media had gone from being a unicorns-and-marshmallows bastion of vague hope to becoming a valued, measurable part of our digital strategy. Now we could talk about what social could do for our customer service and customer loyalty… without watching Rick make faces in the corner.
There are two sides to the power of measurement for achieving social media success: first, the way it helps you track, tweak, and re-jig your social efforts to ensure you’re meeting goals. It’s up to you to define what success looks like, and what your goals are, but by actually paying attention, you’re already headed in the right direction.
Second, measurement makes social “real” for people in your organization who think you’re spending your whole day in a chat room. People like Rick, for example, who told us daily that “conversations weren’t sales.”
Maybe not (although he saw quite a few quick conversions once we made him look!) – but by showing them your place in the sales funnel and your impact on customer behavior and response, you get the buy-in you deserve (and the accountability they desire.)
So – all things considered – I guess I really do like measurement. Still couldn’t tell you how much a quart is, though.