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April 01, 2009

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Chuck Hemann

Jon - a truly fascinating conundrum, and I sense you are not alone in your frustration. Sure, there is an element of "squishiness" to any measurement process - traditional media or not. if you are struggling with this, as it seems like you are, I'd encourage you to check out David Alston's eMetrics presentation that's posted on slideshare -

http://www.slideshare.net/davidalston/awareness-to-action-draft-emetrics-toronto-david-alston-radian6

Trina Willard

Jon - this is an intriguing question. As a measurement consultant, I'm tempted to throw it back to you and ask whether your clients' goals for social media efforts are substantially different than the goals for traditional ones, or simply an extention of them. There are many possibilities to measure, as you have mentioned, depending upon the client's intent: controlling the message, number or quality of endorsements, traffic (as an indicator of awareness), perceived credibility, etc. Once that is sorted out, your ROI calculation should rely on measures that are relevant to those goals. It will also be critical to collect baseline data so you can assess the desired changes, especially for new social media initiatives. Given that general feedback, there are two measurable possibilities from my perspective that you have not yet mentioned: (1)Is your organization reaching the same or expanded target audience more efficiently using social media (time savings)? and (2) Can social media efforts more effectively engage a wider range of staff as proxy-marketers, thereby expanding your marketing capacity and perhaps reaping other organizational benefits? I will be interested to see how your direction develops on this.

Daniel Durazo

Hey Jon,

Great post. I'll jump on Trina's bandwagon. I think social media's value is derived through its ability to reach the "right" people. Social media has taken off because it has the ability to segment audiences like never before. I can join only the LinkedIn groups that interest me, I can listen to social radio podcasts and I can read blogs like yours that include topics I'm interested in. Everything else I ignore. I think that social media results should be measured purely by its success in reaching pre-defined target audiences.

Lorna

Hi Jon,
I just read The Groundswell (http://tinyurl.com/2tb2gj) written by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff and it talks about Web 2.0 and using the tools people are connecting with to reach them.
From what I understand, putting out viral videos like the Southwest Airlines (http://tinyurl.com/dga6tw) is a tactic for punching through the noise, for generating awareness. But it's what you do with that increased visibility that's more important. Blendtec (http://tinyurl.com/yk6rku) made a series of videos for its $399 blender in which the CEO blended an iPhone, golfballs, marbles, etc into just in the blender. This campaign, which cost $50, caught fire and soon the CEO was on the Today Show and the Tonight Show.
There are various ways you can tap into the people online- for research, to increase awareness, for product development even. Each stage has its own measurement tools as described by Li and Bernoff. But most importantly you have to stick with the people you attract and use the momentum to build your brand, sell your product and profit. This, of course, calls for strategic planning with an end goal of where you want your customers to be along with measurable objectives for getting there. Number of views, Web site traffic, "friends", blog subjects, etc. are all ways to quantify that your social marketing is working, but retention of those customers - the true relationships you form with them and maintain for continued conversation are going to be the bigger success.

Spingirl

Jon - great post addressing an on-going conundrum. I totally agree with Trina, and want to add a new dimension. How about customer service? Social media can put you face to face with your customers and others who interact with your brand. There is great in the direct feedback. In my opinion, monitoring that feedback (sentiment) and mitigating issues that arise is of huge value and the same ROI calcs as used in customer service can be applied...

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