Breaking A Goal Into Metrics

Earlier, I posted about creating measurable objectives, because that seemed to be a hard thing for some folks to master. It requires some work, but ultimately, it’s well worth learning how to do. And it’s pivotal to today’s subject.

I keep hearing folks all over the place struggling with how to distill appropriate metrics from the goals they set. We’re still looking for some holy grail of turn-key metrics sets – the “accepted” ones that everyone uses. But here’s the thing: standard metrics are useless unless they specifically point to the goals YOU have set.

So, instead of thinking in terms of how everyone else defines success, worry about how you do. You might be able to take some hints from the guy down the street, but his goals aren’t yours, and neither should his metrics be the same.

Here’s how you can take your goals and break them down into the indicators that can help you decide whether or not you’re making progress.

Start with the Objective

Sample Objective: Use social media to increase new subscriptions to our email newsletter via the website by 15% in the first quarter.

This objective spells out specifically what we want to do, with whom, by how much, and by when. Presuming we have some subscribers to our email newsletter already (our benchmark), a 15% increase in a three month period is also measurable and realistic (following the SMART methodology).

It also presumes that we’ve done the legwork to know that increasing our email newsletter subscribers is good for business, perhaps because we get a good percentage of leads that way, or because those leads have a high conversion rate.  If your email newsletter is new, then perhaps you’ve formulated a hypothesis that it’s a valuable strategy, either via probable precedent (other people’s success), assumptions you’ve made about your business, or an out and out experiment.

Still with me? Good. Now that you know what you’re aiming for, think through your approach.

Consider your Strategies & Tools

In this example, let’s assume you’ve done some research and listening, and you’ve decided that you’d like to build strategies that involve your corporate blog , Twitter, and your company’s Facebook fan page as touchpoints and drivers. (Selecting the strategies themselves are a point for a different discussion altogether).

What you measure regarding these strategies will depend, in great part, on what you are able to measure given the tools and resources at your disposal. In this scenario, perhaps you’re able to measure with relative ease:

  • Fans on Facebook, including how many new fans sign on, and during what time period to determine growth
  • Followers on Twitter, including how many you accrue during finite periods (growth rate)
  • Blog visitors/traffic per day/week/month, and their sources
  • Engagement and interaction with you on these channels: blog comments, @ replies, likes/comments
  • Sharing of your content, retweets, wall posts, links
  • Traffic to your website/email signup page that comes directly from any of these places
  • Conversion rates for email signups and user paths on your website

These aren’t exhaustive, but you get the drift. Start figuring out what your tools allow you to measure. Resources like listening tools (yes, like Radian6 but you can go manual/free too with more work), Google Analytics or other web analytics programs, link shorteners like Bit.ly, and URL generators like Google’s URL builder can help you with the components you need to track your efforts thoroughly.

Map Potential Paths of Action

Now that you know what you can measure with the resources you have, time to start thinking about what actions and paths people might take to do what you want them to do. In other words, for our sample objective, people might:

  • See a link to your blog post on Twitter, visit your website, then sign up for the newsletter.
  • See your post on Facebook promoting your upcoming newsletter issue, like it, click the link you included, and sign up.
  • Read your blog post, and see the link in your post footer that suggests your email as a resource they might like.
  • Take action based on specific newsletter subscription ask with a unique link in a blog post.
  • Visit your website via search or other means, discover your newsletter archives from the home page, and sign up themselves.
  • Engage with conversation with your representative on Twitter, be curious about your company, click the link to your website in your Twitter bio, visit, and sign up for the newsletter.
  • See a whitepaper a friend sent them from your site via ShareThis, click on a link embedded in the document that sends them to a specific landing page, perhaps that includes a direct email subscription link of its own.

Note that I’ve bolded pieces of these. Those are the trackable elements and touchpoints that you can control based on the information you push out. Some of the signups for your newsletter are bound to be incidental, meaning they’re not directly connected to an action you engineered, but are as a result of a path the website visitor took and the information they sought.

And there are going to be gaps in the trackable path sometimes. Perhaps someone saw your Facebook page and didn’t click on your link, but came back to your site later via Google and then signed up for the newsletter. Facebook was an impact point, but the actual path was search traffic to signup. So you’ll have to take elements like that into consideration and account for a margin of error.

But the more breadcrumbs you can place in people’s paths to guide them to what you want them to do, the more accurately you can measure.

Determine Indicators and Metrics

So you’ve considered what you can measure, and what people might do that lead them toward your goal. What metrics indicate success?

Look at the measurements available to you, and combine them to demonstrate either probability that people will take the desired action, or definitive evidence that they did. That’s where the gold is. It’s not the single metric in itself, but the patterns they create that count. In other words, follower stats themselves are rather useless unless you can tie them to an action that has demonstrable value – in our case, the email signup. Dig?

In our example, you might track:

  • Conversions (subscriptions) via Twitter-specific links or referral traffic over a 30 day period, trended over time to watch growth.  (specific)
  • Comparison of  general search traffic that results in conversions vs. traffic from Twitter, Facebook, and blog views that does  (specific)
  • Conversions by referral source, comparing Twitter and Facebook (specific)
  • Ratio of @ replies per month to new email subscriptions via Twitter referrals (probability)
  • Ratio of Facebook fan increases per month to increases in email subscriptions overall (probability)
  • Percent of blog email subscribers that also sign up for the email newsletter (specific)
  • Percent increase in new blog subscribers alongside new email subscribers (probability)

See where this is going? You’ve got to examine how the data you have can point to the results you want. That’s what you measure. Pick the few that give you the most specific intelligence and results.

It doesn’t matter if the guy down the street measures that or not. Over time,  you’ll be able to tell whether or not your measurements are helping you understand progress toward your goals.

If not, you tweak them or rework them. No measurement should ever be set in stone forever and ever (though you need to stick with a few for a while, say six months rolling, before you can really make a judgment call on their effectiveness). Metrics evolve just like your strategy does until something settles.

Bonus Round: Attach Actions to Results

So when you’re reporting to your boss about the progress you’ve made toward your objectives, you should be able to analyze the indicators you’ve put forward above and draw conclusions. That’s how you put together a report, and where you make your decisions about how to maintain or amend your strategy and tactics moving forward.

Some examples:

  • Of 25 new blog email subscribers this month, 5 of them also subscribed to the newsletter. That’s a ratio of 5:1, and a trend we can track moving forward to see if it maintains, drops, or stays constant.
  • If we’ve determined via our sales numbers that each of our email subscribers also does an average of $200 in business with us every month, we can also say that every 5 blog subscribers has the potential to be worth $200 in monthly revenue (or $40 each) at that ratio.
  • Facebook fans click on our links 10% less frequently each month than our Twitter followers do. However, we get one subscriber for every ten clicks on Twitter, whereas we get three for every 10 on Facebook.
  • Landing page links embedded in our whitepapers shared via ShareThis generate less than 2% of overall website traffic. (That means they’re likely not a good source of email subscribers).
  • Specific subscription drives on our blog generated a 3% increase in subscribers in one month, and the same ask on Twitter generated an increase of 6.5%.

See how we’re connecting the dots, and starting to draw some assumptions and conclusions from what we’ve tracked? You need to work the data and look at it from different angles. Measurement is really kind of a waste of time if you aren’t going to do something with what you’ve learned.

In Closing

This is work, people. Do you hear me? Work. If the steps above seem daunting or like too much effort, you’ll need to get help, suck it up, or stop complaining that social media isn’t measurable. It is. But it’s not instant.

All the Google research in the world is not going to suddenly uncover a magic set of metrics that you can just adopt and run with. You’ve got to do the methodical, careful work to spell out the goals first, then figure out what measurements will tell you whether or not you’ve reached that goal. You have to build and deploy the tracking mechanisms and tools. You need to regularly capture and export the data. You need to mash it up, correlate it, and map it over time.

So, here’s a start. You’re not going to hit a home run out of the park every time. But measuring is like laundry. The more you ignore it, the more impossible it gets to tackle.

Get to it.

image by Mykl Roventine

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  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    This is very Comprehensive Amber. Thank you for your insights. When I work with clients I often tell them that many of the metrics they are looking to build (facebook friends, twitter followers) are in effect pointless unless there are back-end goals. The engagement, followers etc are what I like to call social indicators. Much like the stock market you can track trends in the soft social metrics to the hard ROI metrics.

    Well laid out and keep up the great work!
    keith
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    This is very Comprehensive Amber. Thank you for your insights. When I work with clients I often tell them that many of the metrics they are looking to build (facebook friends, twitter followers) are in effect pointless unless there are back-end goals. The engagement, followers etc are what I like to call social indicators. Much like the stock market you can track trends in the soft social metrics to the hard ROI metrics.

    Well laid out and keep up the great work!
    keith
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

  • http://noteasytoforget.com James Ball

    It feels like everyone is still waiting for an accepted and universal set of metrics for determining a definitive ROI from their use of social media channels. It seems to be the last bastion, the final and still missing piece of the puzzle for many. With a standard or “best practice” method to pull our numbers and analysis from, it would become so much easier to understand the whole of social media.
    I applaud you for attacking this topic from all of the many angles that you have Amber. You’ve been tireless in speaking to the individuality that must be a part of any social media campaign. You start from the more proper end of the story…objectives and goals first, and only then can you decide the tools (read: tactics) and measurements you will need to enact and watch as indicators. Decisions, action, and adjustments can then be undertaken based on the initial goals in order to re-align and keep striving toward them.
    I do think that as this moves forward over the next 12-24 months, that this methodology will become the more accepted and understood practice. This will be due to the folks like you who keep-on-telling-it like it is and has to be. You are appreciated. Very descriptive and educational article Amber, Thanks!

  • http://noteasytoforget.com James Ball

    It feels like everyone is still waiting for an accepted and universal set of metrics for determining a definitive ROI from their use of social media channels. It seems to be the last bastion, the final and still missing piece of the puzzle for many. With a standard or “best practice” method to pull our numbers and analysis from, it would become so much easier to understand the whole of social media.
    I applaud you for attacking this topic from all of the many angles that you have Amber. You’ve been tireless in speaking to the individuality that must be a part of any social media campaign. You start from the more proper end of the story…objectives and goals first, and only then can you decide the tools (read: tactics) and measurements you will need to enact and watch as indicators. Decisions, action, and adjustments can then be undertaken based on the initial goals in order to re-align and keep striving toward them.
    I do think that as this moves forward over the next 12-24 months, that this methodology will become the more accepted and understood practice. This will be due to the folks like you who keep-on-telling-it like it is and has to be. You are appreciated. Very descriptive and educational article Amber, Thanks!

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    James, I think your looking for a holy grail that does not exist. As tools develop it may make it easier to access, but every organization is different. Different metrics will be more and less important depending on the needs and goals of the company. In my opinion the space is too vast and diverse to create a one size fits all program.
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

    • http://noteasytoforget.com James Ball

      Oh I absolutely agree Keith! I wasn’t speaking for myself, but for the frantic search for said Holy Grail that permeates the conversations and posts across the whole of this social media and ROI/metrics topic. It is far too vast and diverse to expect a forthcoming one size fits all ANYTHING!
      .-= James Ball´s last blog ..5 Things That Small Businesses Want To Hear About Social Media (#3) =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      I actually think there’s middle ground between what you guys are saying. Is there going to ever be a set of standards that determines “global social media success”? No.

      But as we start drilling down with the social media strategies and the goals they line up to – awareness, lead generation, customer service, etc – I DO think we can come up with sets of metrics that can be somewhat consistently applied.

      For example, if a company is going to use Twitter for customer service, there are some pretty universal goals that apply to most customer service practices: shorter issue resolution time, higher customer satisfaction, decreased call center volume, etc. So in that specific *context*, I think we can start sussing out metrics that are at least worth considering as a set, like # of issues resolved via Twitter over a specific time frame, and how that correlates to call center volume. Stuff like that.

      So it’s not “social media” that will get a nice neat set of metrics, but as more use cases emerge from various types of social media channels, I think we’ll see some consistencies in measurement, too.

      • http://noteasytoforget.com James Ball

        With so many professionals from so many once well-defined specialties converging on this space to make use of it…the lines that are being defined are still quite blurry. Social media blazes a quick trail to so many valuable touch points for so many. The marketing professionals are trying to market and advertise. The PR people are tripping over the CRM guys, and so on. I agree that measurement will become more defined and consistent once understood in proper context. Measurement has to be aligned with purpose.
        .-= James Ball´s last blog ..5 Things That Small Businesses Want To Hear About Social Media (#3) =-.

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    James, I think your looking for a holy grail that does not exist. As tools develop it may make it easier to access, but every organization is different. Different metrics will be more and less important depending on the needs and goals of the company. In my opinion the space is too vast and diverse to create a one size fits all program.
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

    • http://noteasytoforget.com James Ball

      Oh I absolutely agree Keith! I wasn’t speaking for myself, but for the frantic search for said Holy Grail that permeates the conversations and posts across the whole of this social media and ROI/metrics topic. It is far too vast and diverse to expect a forthcoming one size fits all ANYTHING!
      .-= James Ball´s last blog ..5 Things That Small Businesses Want To Hear About Social Media (#3) =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      I actually think there’s middle ground between what you guys are saying. Is there going to ever be a set of standards that determines “global social media success”? No.

      But as we start drilling down with the social media strategies and the goals they line up to – awareness, lead generation, customer service, etc – I DO think we can come up with sets of metrics that can be somewhat consistently applied.

      For example, if a company is going to use Twitter for customer service, there are some pretty universal goals that apply to most customer service practices: shorter issue resolution time, higher customer satisfaction, decreased call center volume, etc. So in that specific *context*, I think we can start sussing out metrics that are at least worth considering as a set, like # of issues resolved via Twitter over a specific time frame, and how that correlates to call center volume. Stuff like that.

      So it’s not “social media” that will get a nice neat set of metrics, but as more use cases emerge from various types of social media channels, I think we’ll see some consistencies in measurement, too.

      • http://noteasytoforget.com James Ball

        With so many professionals from so many once well-defined specialties converging on this space to make use of it…the lines that are being defined are still quite blurry. Social media blazes a quick trail to so many valuable touch points for so many. The marketing professionals are trying to market and advertise. The PR people are tripping over the CRM guys, and so on. I agree that measurement will become more defined and consistent once understood in proper context. Measurement has to be aligned with purpose.
        .-= James Ball´s last blog ..5 Things That Small Businesses Want To Hear About Social Media (#3) =-.

  • http://www.ChomzTV.com Dave Chomitz

    Great information and well presented … thankyou.

    How do you quantify the relationship between visitors or subscribers and the quality or effectiveness of the copy they find on the blog, or the Tweet compelling them to take the next step.

    I think too often watching the “numbers” can over ride the “language” of the presentation. Traditional copy writers may not understand the media well enough to capture people in 140 characters, but won’t that impact the effectiveness of the campaign. And at the same time, from what I’ve seen most people who understand the numbers really don’t have a grasp of the language of sales. And that language is relevant to New Media Marketing.

    However New Media is so immediate and short lived the traditional testing methods really don’t work.

    Is it just hit and miss ??

    ~~~~

    From an old Canadian Sales Guy …. You use the metric far too often.

    Cheers ….. Dave

  • http://www.ChomzTV.com Dave Chomitz

    Great information and well presented … thankyou.

    How do you quantify the relationship between visitors or subscribers and the quality or effectiveness of the copy they find on the blog, or the Tweet compelling them to take the next step.

    I think too often watching the “numbers” can over ride the “language” of the presentation. Traditional copy writers may not understand the media well enough to capture people in 140 characters, but won’t that impact the effectiveness of the campaign. And at the same time, from what I’ve seen most people who understand the numbers really don’t have a grasp of the language of sales. And that language is relevant to New Media Marketing.

    However New Media is so immediate and short lived the traditional testing methods really don’t work.

    Is it just hit and miss ??

    ~~~~

    From an old Canadian Sales Guy …. You use the metric far too often.

    Cheers ….. Dave

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    I agree with you Amber, in fact in my last comment I meant to say that you might have better luck within specific genres or industry. However, the space is very new and I see a lot of things that are accepted as best practice before people/orgs have all the data they need to make that statement. There are absolutely some great practices and techniques that can be applied across a multiple of industries and organizational goals but they normally need tweaking to make your own.

    I use a lot of the same thought processes for each of my clients but ultimately use what is most important to them to create custom solutions.

    Great Discussion. :)
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    I agree with you Amber, in fact in my last comment I meant to say that you might have better luck within specific genres or industry. However, the space is very new and I see a lot of things that are accepted as best practice before people/orgs have all the data they need to make that statement. There are absolutely some great practices and techniques that can be applied across a multiple of industries and organizational goals but they normally need tweaking to make your own.

    I use a lot of the same thought processes for each of my clients but ultimately use what is most important to them to create custom solutions.

    Great Discussion. :)
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

  • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

    I’ve counted 3 dollar symbols in this post. This is not an ROI discussion.

    • Amber Naslund

      Who said it was? ROI is one metric. And only one.

      • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

        I’ve seen it brought up in several of the comments…usually termed as “holy grail”.
        .-= taulpaul´s last blog ..Designing for the Future (Literally) =-.

        • Amber Naslund

          If I’m interpreting correctly, I believe the holy grail being referred to above was more about seeking some mythical, standard set of metrics. I see what you’re saying though: using ROI as the catch-all term to discuss all things related to value and measurement.

          Because in that case, you’re right to point out that ROI is about dollars, and dollars alone. I too get frustrated when the term “ROI” is bantered about, when we’re really trying to say “business case” or something similar. Fair point. Thanks for making it.

        • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

          Thanks Amber,

          I know I can come across as snarky, but conversion metrics are a great topic, but I see so many jump to this as the solution to the ROI solution. It’s a start, but far from the answer. Thanks for the post.
          .-= taulpaul´s last blog ..Designing for the Future (Literally) =-.

        • Amber Naslund

          Absolutely right on that front. No question. ROI is a dollars in, dollars out equation, and defining it otherwise just isn’t accurate. As for snark, you’re in good company over here. No worries.

        • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

          This was a good place for me to start when I started asking the hard questions: http://www.slideshare.net/GasPedal/blog-well-msp-general-mills-25 (slide 11)
          .-= taulpaul´s last blog ..Designing for the Future (Literally) =-.

  • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

    I’ve counted 3 dollar symbols in this post. This is not an ROI discussion.

    • Amber Naslund

      Who said it was? ROI is one metric. And only one.

      • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

        I’ve seen it brought up in several of the comments…usually termed as “holy grail”.
        .-= taulpaul´s last blog ..Designing for the Future (Literally) =-.

        • Amber Naslund

          If I’m interpreting correctly, I believe the holy grail being referred to above was more about seeking some mythical, standard set of metrics. I see what you’re saying though: using ROI as the catch-all term to discuss all things related to value and measurement.

          Because in that case, you’re right to point out that ROI is about dollars, and dollars alone. I too get frustrated when the term “ROI” is bantered about, when we’re really trying to say “business case” or something similar. Fair point. Thanks for making it.

        • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

          Thanks Amber,

          I know I can come across as snarky, but conversion metrics are a great topic, but I see so many jump to this as the solution to the ROI solution. It’s a start, but far from the answer. Thanks for the post.
          .-= taulpaul´s last blog ..Designing for the Future (Literally) =-.

        • Amber Naslund

          Absolutely right on that front. No question. ROI is a dollars in, dollars out equation, and defining it otherwise just isn’t accurate. As for snark, you’re in good company over here. No worries.

        • http://www.tweetandmeet.com taulpaul

          This was a good place for me to start when I started asking the hard questions: http://www.slideshare.net/GasPedal/blog-well-msp-general-mills-25 (slide 11)
          .-= taulpaul´s last blog ..Designing for the Future (Literally) =-.

  • Hank Merkle

    Keith and James,
    Never fear, our superhero will be coming to the rescue soon! Robin hood (at least @thebrandbuilder) and his merry men will be in Devon England at http://www.boveycastle.com for a team “mind meld” or something new-age Trekkie like that, to develop / document Social Media best practices and successes. While I am not sure if this is game changing, I have the greatest respect for people like Amber, Olivier,Keith and a whole host of other top-notch characters in this “stage-play” that will, and has been life changing for some people. While I am not a full-time, fully immersed Social Media geek, (maybe a wanna be-since I am sitting here at 9:30 on a Friday night reading and commenting on blogs… :-) ) I know this tool is here to stay and hanging around smart people (physically or virtually) will help me be “All I can be!”
    Amber, as always, FANTASTIC post, cuts to the heart of it AND makes your reader think!
    THANKS ONCE AGAIN!!

    • Amber Naslund

      Thanks for being here, Hank. I’m honestly not a big fan of the term “best practices” because too often I think it’s jargon for “gimme a shortcut so I can just duplicate what they did, cover my butt with precedent, and not have to think for myself very hard.” And I think that’s why we clamor for them so much.

      That said, putting our money where our mouth is is critical for the long term viability of social media as part of business strategy. If we can’t quit pontificating about it and actually get down to execution and analysis in business terms that matter, we’re just wasting everyone’s time.

      • http://rjleaman.com Rebecca Leaman

        See, Amber, right there – your description of “best practices” as jargon for “gimme a shortcut” etc., – that is the kind of “the Emperor has no clothes” plain speaking that brings me back to your blog with embarrassing frequency.

        If all the small resource-strapped volunteer-driven nonprofits out there are ever going to be able to take decent advantage of the opportunities offered by social media, obfuscating jargon has to be swept aside so they can begin to see where they need to be going. Thanks for helping.
        .-= Rebecca Leaman´s last blog ..Facebook Bra Color Meme: So, Did It Work? =-.

      • Hank Merkle

        yes, you are right!
        “WE” MUST be careful and diligent to with our terminology.
        People do look for short cuts. I was fortunate to meet Gary V on Wednesday and hear him talk and he pointed out that “if you are a wallflower in person you will be on-line and if you are a jerk…”, well you get it. The process takes time, trust takes time to build. (I steal equally form everyone) Stephen Covey says “Short is long and long is short” meaning a shortcut is typically the long way to the end and visa-versa. There is no short cut to creating a product or service people want and being there to help them use it (service) Social Media is simply a tool that helps delivery and awareness. I loved it when Gary V said “People will try to take advantage and they will be found out!” (paraphrased) That is so true, I can’t tell you the people I have friended or followed because of first impressions and then unfollowed when their “True colors” came out.
        Thank you for being a lighthouse on the craggy shore of this new place we are about to land!

  • Hank Merkle

    Keith and James,
    Never fear, our superhero will be coming to the rescue soon! Robin hood (at least @thebrandbuilder) and his merry men will be in Devon England at http://www.boveycastle.com for a team “mind meld” or something new-age Trekkie like that, to develop / document Social Media best practices and successes. While I am not sure if this is game changing, I have the greatest respect for people like Amber, Olivier,Keith and a whole host of other top-notch characters in this “stage-play” that will, and has been life changing for some people. While I am not a full-time, fully immersed Social Media geek, (maybe a wanna be-since I am sitting here at 9:30 on a Friday night reading and commenting on blogs… :-) ) I know this tool is here to stay and hanging around smart people (physically or virtually) will help me be “All I can be!”
    Amber, as always, FANTASTIC post, cuts to the heart of it AND makes your reader think!
    THANKS ONCE AGAIN!!

    • Amber Naslund

      Thanks for being here, Hank. I’m honestly not a big fan of the term “best practices” because too often I think it’s jargon for “gimme a shortcut so I can just duplicate what they did, cover my butt with precedent, and not have to think for myself very hard.” And I think that’s why we clamor for them so much.

      That said, putting our money where our mouth is is critical for the long term viability of social media as part of business strategy. If we can’t quit pontificating about it and actually get down to execution and analysis in business terms that matter, we’re just wasting everyone’s time.

      • http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/default.aspx Rebecca Leaman

        See, Amber, right there – your description of “best practices” as jargon for “gimme a shortcut” etc., – that is the kind of “the Emperor has no clothes” plain speaking that brings me back to your blog with embarrassing frequency.

        If all the small resource-strapped volunteer-driven nonprofits out there are ever going to be able to take decent advantage of the opportunities offered by social media, obfuscating jargon has to be swept aside so they can begin to see where they need to be going. Thanks for helping.
        .-= Rebecca Leaman´s last blog ..Facebook Bra Color Meme: So, Did It Work? =-.

      • Hank Merkle

        yes, you are right!
        “WE” MUST be careful and diligent to with our terminology.
        People do look for short cuts. I was fortunate to meet Gary V on Wednesday and hear him talk and he pointed out that “if you are a wallflower in person you will be on-line and if you are a jerk…”, well you get it. The process takes time, trust takes time to build. (I steal equally form everyone) Stephen Covey says “Short is long and long is short” meaning a shortcut is typically the long way to the end and visa-versa. There is no short cut to creating a product or service people want and being there to help them use it (service) Social Media is simply a tool that helps delivery and awareness. I loved it when Gary V said “People will try to take advantage and they will be found out!” (paraphrased) That is so true, I can’t tell you the people I have friended or followed because of first impressions and then unfollowed when their “True colors” came out.
        Thank you for being a lighthouse on the craggy shore of this new place we are about to land!

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    Hank, Olivier is certainly a great mind in this field. I asked him if someone could beam me in from skype. I’d love to partake in the talks but I have a pregnant wife that need me to stay in town :) Please take copious notes, lots of video and hey…. beam me in Scotty!
    -Keith
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

  • http://www.keithburtis.com Keith Burtis

    Hank, Olivier is certainly a great mind in this field. I asked him if someone could beam me in from skype. I’d love to partake in the talks but I have a pregnant wife that need me to stay in town :) Please take copious notes, lots of video and hey…. beam me in Scotty!
    -Keith
    .-= Keith Burtis´s last blog ..The Transformative Nature of Social Media…. a metaphor. =-.

  • http://socialmediaanswers.com Kevin Palmer

    Wait there isn’t a magical plugin that we can use to track and tell us if what we are doing is moving the needle? We have to think? Ugh…

    You are dead on about setting goals. Once you set goals, attribute how you can track the goals, and work with the tools that can track them you can determine so much.

    The problem with so many people is that they set such general goals or they don’t break them down into measurable segments that they quickly get frustrated and poo poo all of this.
    .-= Kevin Palmer´s last blog ..Working on Local Search =-.

  • http://socialmediaanswers.com Kevin Palmer

    Wait there isn’t a magical plugin that we can use to track and tell us if what we are doing is moving the needle? We have to think? Ugh…

    You are dead on about setting goals. Once you set goals, attribute how you can track the goals, and work with the tools that can track them you can determine so much.

    The problem with so many people is that they set such general goals or they don’t break them down into measurable segments that they quickly get frustrated and poo poo all of this.
    .-= Kevin Palmer´s last blog ..Working on Local Search =-.

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  • http://www.bhbco.com Jason Hoeppner

    Amber,
    As with any repeatable process at a structured organization, defining processes, identifying metrics, and measuring the results (and validity of the metrics themselves) are critical components of proactively managing expectations. This, however, needs to be preceded by strategic thought and deliberate planning – much of what you discuss starting with selecting your objective.
    With that in mind, marketing processes should be approached the same way, with social media as a subset of one’s marketing practices. And as mentioned several times, the expectations, results, and even the goals need to be identified first. Then the tools to achieve the results should be evaluated (social media only being some of what is available), and implemented. Finally the appropriate metrics should be tracked to measure the results against the expectations. Without the right metrics (as you mention), you cannot accurately gauge the results – and more importantly, make future adjustments and improvements to your process.
    A mistake I have seen too many times is to start with a specific social media platform in mind and make that the end objective, skipping over all the good technique(s) discussed here!
    Regards, Jason

  • http://www.bhbco.com Jason Hoeppner

    Amber,
    As with any repeatable process at a structured organization, defining processes, identifying metrics, and measuring the results (and validity of the metrics themselves) are critical components of proactively managing expectations. This, however, needs to be preceded by strategic thought and deliberate planning – much of what you discuss starting with selecting your objective.
    With that in mind, marketing processes should be approached the same way, with social media as a subset of one’s marketing practices. And as mentioned several times, the expectations, results, and even the goals need to be identified first. Then the tools to achieve the results should be evaluated (social media only being some of what is available), and implemented. Finally the appropriate metrics should be tracked to measure the results against the expectations. Without the right metrics (as you mention), you cannot accurately gauge the results – and more importantly, make future adjustments and improvements to your process.
    A mistake I have seen too many times is to start with a specific social media platform in mind and make that the end objective, skipping over all the good technique(s) discussed here!
    Regards, Jason

  • http://jorge.threefivesup.com Jorge

    Great Post Amber,

    Adding up to all of what’s been said above. I think that if we want to measure social media we need to experiment a little, too. I liked the line where you said

    Landing page links embedded in our whitepapers shared via ShareThis generate less than 2% of overall website traffic. (That means they’re likely not a good source of email subscribers).

    In that line I like the “likely” word, because we don’t know for sure although we are measuring. But we can experiment and don’t release a whitepaper in a while and see how things evolve (if subscriptions or visits go down it may mean that the whitepapers generated more traffic than we thought).

    As we are business people for measuring and tracking we always need to become a bit of scientists (experimenting with the different variables) to find a way of measuring that works for us.

    We also need to use the long distance race approach to measurement that means establishing checkpoints that people go through before converting into a sale (if that’s our goal), or any other goal we have.
    .-= Jorge´s last blog ..User Controlled Privacy Settings =-.

  • http://jorge.threefivesup.com Jorge

    Great Post Amber,

    Adding up to all of what’s been said above. I think that if we want to measure social media we need to experiment a little, too. I liked the line where you said

    Landing page links embedded in our whitepapers shared via ShareThis generate less than 2% of overall website traffic. (That means they’re likely not a good source of email subscribers).

    In that line I like the “likely” word, because we don’t know for sure although we are measuring. But we can experiment and don’t release a whitepaper in a while and see how things evolve (if subscriptions or visits go down it may mean that the whitepapers generated more traffic than we thought).

    As we are business people for measuring and tracking we always need to become a bit of scientists (experimenting with the different variables) to find a way of measuring that works for us.

    We also need to use the long distance race approach to measurement that means establishing checkpoints that people go through before converting into a sale (if that’s our goal), or any other goal we have.
    .-= Jorge´s last blog ..User Controlled Privacy Settings =-.

  • http://amirk25.letmenote.com/ AmirK

    An awesome piece of information. A complete flow of a social media campaign but if I’m not wrong I think you emphasized too much on tracking stats. I guess it’s not all about “stats”. We can’t get results by tracking followers or fan numbers since there are many factors involved in the success of any social media campaign. Also, it’s not possible to track stats in such a great depth. And these are very “time consuming” efforts which is another draw back of social media.
    .-= AmirK´s last blog ..I’m back! =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Amir, this post is about just that: tracking metrics, or stats, as you call them. It’s not ALL about stats, no. But they *do* provide some of the quantifiable impact of social media (the qualitative impacts are important too, but not the focus of this post).

      You can *illustrate* results with fans or follower numbers *if* they line up with goals. And I disagree: it absolutely IS possible to track these things at depth with an investment of time, processes, and tools.

      As for the time consuming, you bet it is. Anything worth doing in a business context requires an investment of time. And once the mechanisms are built, it becomes about maintaining rather than rebuilding every time. If we’re going to continue to argue that social media deserves a place in business strategy, it’s about time we stop griping that it takes work.

  • http://amirk25.letmenote.com/ AmirK

    An awesome piece of information. A complete flow of a social media campaign but if I’m not wrong I think you emphasized too much on tracking stats. I guess it’s not all about “stats”. We can’t get results by tracking followers or fan numbers since there are many factors involved in the success of any social media campaign. Also, it’s not possible to track stats in such a great depth. And these are very “time consuming” efforts which is another draw back of social media.
    .-= AmirK´s last blog ..I’m back! =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Amir, this post is about just that: tracking metrics, or stats, as you call them. It’s not ALL about stats, no. But they *do* provide some of the quantifiable impact of social media (the qualitative impacts are important too, but not the focus of this post).

      You can *illustrate* results with fans or follower numbers *if* they line up with goals. And I disagree: it absolutely IS possible to track these things at depth with an investment of time, processes, and tools.

      As for the time consuming, you bet it is. Anything worth doing in a business context requires an investment of time. And once the mechanisms are built, it becomes about maintaining rather than rebuilding every time. If we’re going to continue to argue that social media deserves a place in business strategy, it’s about time we stop griping that it takes work.

  • http://amirk25.letmenote.com/ AmirK

    Yes, you’re right. I got it now. Thanks for the explanation.
    .-= AmirK´s last blog ..I’m back! =-.

  • http://amirk25.letmenote.com/ AmirK

    Yes, you’re right. I got it now. Thanks for the explanation.
    .-= AmirK´s last blog ..I’m back! =-.

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