If you work in the social media space you will be well aware that much of the conversation in recent years has revolved around Return on Investment (ROI). The initial excitement and novelty of corporate social media has worn off and the need to prove success and measure impact has moved front and centre. While those that manage online communities agree that measuring social media is essential, the metrics used track and report on ROI will differ amongst peers. We were particularly interested in understanding, through the use of a Poll, what metrics specifically were most important to those in the industry?
When asked whether Sentiment, Leads, Sales, Reach or Engagement was most important, the majority answered with Engagement followed by Leads/Sales. This is an encouraging result because striking a balance can be difficult. While quantitative measurements such as leads and sales derived from social media are important, value should also be placed on soft metrics like engagement levels and popularity of content because ultimately they work in tandem.
Answers will greatly depend on who you speak to and where along the social media journey they might be as the emphasis on any one of these metrics will change over time. In most cases the beginning of a social media strategy is marked by a predominant view to engage online and foster a community. Following on, as the community develops, the focus will tend to shift to tracking social media leads through to conversion or customer retention. This can be a daunting task but with the right social media and CRM tools in place it is achievable.
What Matters to Me?
So how do you assess which one of these metrics, amongst others, you should pay most attention to? Generally, this will depend on a number of factors but first and foremost this will be reliant on your goals and intention. If social media use within an organization is centered on providing quick and effective customer service then sentiment and engagement might demand a primary focus. Alternatively however, if a community is already present and they are discussing your industry or services as a matter of course then sales and leads might be more relevant.
In the end, for a comprehensive view on corporate social media there needs to be a balance of all four metrics listed in our poll as well as other metrics as they apply to the business. Undeniably all of these tie in closely together and influence each other. Ultimately, focusing on only one would be to the detriment of any social media strategy. Moreover, by placing equal value on these returns you will find that the social media stakeholders are present throughout the business, not just in marketing, PR or customer services. Connecting the business is the key to becoming a social business, which can ultimately deliver ROI across departments and be recognized throughout the organization.
What metrics do you use to track your social media success?