One of the frustrations I have with the discussions that swirl around social media is that there’s a big, big difference between something that’s difficult, and something that takes work. Social media and specifically measuring and tracking its impact is not difficult. It’s time consuming. It’s meticulous, and takes thought and insight. But it’s not hard.
And as Katie Paine said to me today on Twitter: “Just because you can’t automate it doesn’t mean it’s not measurable.”
We demand far too many shortcuts. We want just-add-water strategies that don’t require us to do much work but rather roll out some kit of parts we can just plug into place. We’re busy, overtasked, under supported, and the idea of having to dig deep into something in excruciating detail with painstaking effort makes our skin crawl.
But it’s reality.
Results from business are rarely achieved easily. And as much as we’d like to use case studies as a template for what *we* should do, the truth is that someone else’s approach (much less that approach distilled into a two-page PDF) is often not going to line up with our business. We have different people, culture, infrastructure, customers, processes, challenges, priorities. But we want to look to case studies as the way to reduce the variables and decrease the likelihood – at least in our head – that we might fail.
That doesn’t work, either. At least in terms of delivering to us the nuts and bolts of how to create a strategy, set goals, and measure impact. That, my friends, is all on us.
If there is no road map handed to you for how to measure your social media efforts (and there won’t be), you must create it. That means:
- Setting goals that are measurable in the first place.
- Understanding that impact doesn’t always mean something goes up (like sales or eyeballs). Sometimes it can be that something goes down (like costs of customer service or traditional marketing costs).
- Benchmarking, which means measuring where you are NOW relative to your goals so you can track future progress and impact. This takes time, but you can’t ever determine results if you don’t know where you started.
- Understanding that social media may not be the sales channel itself, but that there are a pile of ways it IMPACTS sales, and measuring those is key.
- Knowing that determining ROI is ultimately about doing the math between dollars in and dollars out.
- Learning the art and science of correlation of data, so you can tie your efforts in one area of the business to the results and impacts they have elsewhere.
- Realizing that software can give you the data and even help you crunch numbers, but you need to engage your brain to make it valuable to your work. There is no substitute for human analysis, ever.
If you’re still saying to me that it’s too hard, that means that you don’t have the mechanisms in place to measure well, or you don’t have a handle on what you should be measuring because your goals aren’t clear, or you don’t know where that information lives inside your company. All of those are NOT an indication that measurement is hard. They’re an indication that you have some work to do to build the foundation for measurement.
And here’s my harsh statement for the day: If you aren’t willing to expend the time, effort, and resources to do this properly and comprehensively, you have no room to complain to me when you’re unsuccessful. You cannot blame the medium for your failure to execute.
So I’m focusing on measurement here, but the same philosophy applies to the strategic planning or tactical and execution work. It’s called work for a reason. And if achieving your goals for growth, revenue, awareness, happy customers, and a thriving business are worth setting in the first place, aren’t they worth working for?
Tucking my soapbox under the bed for the day…
photo credit: dmahendra