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Actionable Social Media Metrics to Hit the Top 3 Corporate Goals

Even if you’re not new to running a social media program, you may still be figuring out how the heck you are going to prove its value to your execs.  In my experience, the proof tends to be in those metrics and findings that are most actionable.  Actionable data informs key business decisions and ultimately results in solving one or more of the company’s “Big 3” goals to increase sales, decrease costs, and improve customer satisfaction.

If you ever waltz into an executive meeting prepared to proclaim the worth of your social media program by simply showing how much people are talking about your brand and whether or not those customers and prospects like you, you may need to start updating your resume!  At the very least you might incur a bit of a public flogging, after which your deflated ego will need a new game plan for the next time you want to sing the praises of your social media efforts.  Don’t get me wrong, volumes of discussion and sentiment are essential to track, but not as standalone metrics.  Remember, the company wants to see some connection back to its bottom line and the “Big 3” goals in exchange for its willingness to provide you with a job (and heaven knows they don’t get just how big that job truly is).

Social Media Metrics that Count

So what should your game plan include when it comes to tracking social media?  I’ve found that social metrics (i.e. volumes of posts/tweets/comments, volumes of authors and sites, sentiment of authors, your team’s social media activity, organic findings, etc.) essentially tell the story around your:

  • Brand’s visibility and reach (what’s your share of online conversation and do people understand what the brand is all about?)
  • Audience’s feelings (what is their likelihood to buy and recommend your brand?)
  • Outreach efforts (is your blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, and YouTubing resulting in more biz, or higher loyalty?)
  • Organic findings (are new ways of talking about your products or industry emerging?)

Being a brilliant Social Media Manager, you of course have specific business questions to answer and SMART goals for your program (and if you are über brilliant, those goals ultimately connect back to the “Big 3”!).  Now when you track social data you will be able to answer questions that:

  • Inform key marketing decisions and advertisement approaches
  • Uncover (and mitigate) potentially harmful misuse of your brand or problems with your products
  • Provide the Search Engine Optimization team with invaluable social keyword insights
  • Show why a campaign was successful or not and gain insights as to why it did (or did not) lead to more sales
  • Identify social media value for promoting and increasing sales and customer loyalty
  • Enhance processes and procedures for your company’s customer servicing

Marrying Social and Online Metrics

I was invited to speak on a panel this week at the Search Marketing Expo in NY with Vanessa Fox (Search Engine Land), Maile Ohye (Google Inc.), and Conrad Saam (Avvo) – they on actionable search metrics and me on social media metrics.  Jim Sterne, author of Social Media Metrics, says that: “The vast amount of information already available about onsite behavior must be married up with the social data flow in order to reap the most benefits.  That’s going to take some doing.” There are page views, hits, subscribers, fans, followers, diggs, influence, relevance, reach, sentiment, tweets, retweets, replies, click-throughs, trackbacks, inbound links, impressions, page ranking, authority, long tail keywords, crawl-to-index ratio, server logs, 301 redirects, canonicalization problems, and the beat goes on.

The point is, talk to your Web Analytics and Search teams.  The actions your team takes through social will often benefit from tracking metrics that you don’t have access to.  For example, you know how many times your team tweeted or blogged a link to an online coupon but you also need to know how many people clicked on the link (and ideally, how many people made a purchase with those coupons).  Showing your program’s success will only get stronger as you join forces with teams who have related and relevant metrics that connect back to your social media efforts.

From Actionable to Profitable

If I’ve done my job here, by following a few of the suggestions above you should be able to avoid that executive flogging and perhaps even enjoy the fruits – usually in the form of more budget – of running a results-oriented, profitable social media program.  And yes, I did say profitable and now you are daydreaming of your executives salivating as you confidently drop the “P” word on them, aren’t you?

Kindly Yours,

Vicki, A Social Media Yogi in the Making

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